[R] Help with decrypting

MacQueen, Don macqueen1 at llnl.gov
Wed Nov 9 19:11:46 CET 2016

Thanks, Marc,

Unfortunately, I didn't choose the encryption method. My (only) need is to be able to decrypt an existing file that is maintained by others. I am able to use system() on a simple perl script to do the job, but I'm hoping for an R-only solution, primarily for portability.


Don MacQueen
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
7000 East Ave., L-627
Livermore, CA 94550

From: Marc Schwartz <marc_schwartz at me.com<mailto:marc_schwartz at me.com>>
Date: Monday, November 7, 2016 at 3:30 PM
To: dh m <macqueen1 at llnl.gov<mailto:macqueen1 at llnl.gov>>
Cc: R-help <R-help at r-project.org<mailto:R-help at r-project.org>>
Subject: Re: [R] Help with decrypting

On Nov 7, 2016, at 4:47 PM, MacQueen, Don <macqueen1 at llnl.gov<mailto:macqueen1 at llnl.gov>> wrote:

I have a file containing encrypted contents. The contents can be decrypted
using perl, like this:

open (FILEHANDLE, "/path/to/file")
chomp ($ciphertext = <FILEHANDLE>);

use Crypt::CBC;
$cipher = Crypt::CBC->new( -key    => 'my secret key',
                          -cipher => 'Blowfish'

$plaintext  = $cipher->decrypt($ciphertext);

(See http://search.cpan.org/~lds/Crypt-CBC-2.33/CBC.pm)

M goal is to have the value of $plaintext in an R object, so, is there an
R equivalent to this decrypt() perl function?

I've found R packages
that appear to have potential, but I don't understand this business well
enough to figure out how to use them, if indeed they can be used, for
this. Help would be much appreciated.


Hi Don,

Blowfish is Bruce Schneier's algorithm from the early 90's, which even Bruce suggested some time ago not be used. Bruce has some alternative Blowfish implementations available via his web site:


and there is a link there for some third party products that still have it and might provide for a CLI based interface as an alternative (e.g. GnuPG) if you need to use it.

>From what I can tell, 'sodium' does not support Blowfish and the implementation in bcrypt, if I am reading correctly, only provides for a one-way hash implementation, as opposed to encrypt/decrypt functions.

Thus, barring that my searching for alternative R implementations of Blowfish resulted in a Type II error, I do not see any R implementations of Blowfish that support encrypt/decrypt.

If you want to use the Perl module implementation via R, you can take a look at my WriteXLS package on GitHub:


and see how I call Perl scripts within WriteXLS.R:


around line 242.

That might provide one method for you.

That all being said, as per Bruce's recommendation, there are "better" encryption/decryption algorithms these days (some in the 'digest' package by Dirk), depending upon who you are trying to protect the data from... :-)


Marc Schwartz

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