This article covers some basic steps and commands to encrypt your connection string and other items in a configuration file using ASP.NET 2.0. Microsoft has made it much easier to have a portable key that encrypts certain sections in a web.config that are normally clear text. I haven't found a quick how-to reference to allow for a scenerio where the key is both on a local development machine along with being on a remote web server. Developers like to test out their code locally before publishing to production. In our case we have shared clients at ORCS Web that want to encrypt their information for added security. ASP.NET 2.0 makes this really simple. I'm not going to cover this topic and I'm assuming you already know this. If not there are several good articles that explain the architecture, basic commands etc. This article covers the scenerio of creating a key on a production server then exporting the keys to an XML file where the developer can import and use on their local machine. The web.config will be encrypted both on their local dev box as well as the remote server using the same RSA key.
Links to articles covering Encrypting connection strings
This has to be run on the server
How to create a key locally on shared server. The example is called ‘YourCustomKey’ but this can be anything. These are stored in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\Crypto\RSA\MachineKeys Make sure the everyone group has proper folder permissions to make this work
'step 1 - Add to container
C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\aspnet_regiis -pc "YourCustomKey" -exp
'Step 2 - Added to web.config at the root of the folder for the website. This has to be there prior to encrypting
<add keyContainerName="YourCustomKey" useMachineContainer="true" description="Uses RsaCryptoServiceProvider to encrypt and decrypt" name="YourCustomKey" type="System.Configuration.RsaProtectedConfigurationProvider,System.Configuration, Version=22.214.171.124, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a" />
'Step 3 Encrypt (can also put quotes around it)
C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\aspnet_regiis -pef connectionStrings c:\inetpub\wwwroot -prov YourCustomKey (web.config is assumed to already be present)
C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\aspnet_regiis -pdf connectionStrings c:\inetpub\wwwroot -prov YourCustomKey
To export and give to client to run on their own machine in an XML file.
aspnet_regiis -px "YourCustomKey" "C:\temp\CustomKeys.xml" -pri
The -pri switch causes the private and public key to be exported. This enables both encryption and decryption. Without the–pri switch, you would only be able to encrypt data with the exported key.
Client has to run this on their local machine
Here's my command line session:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\SDK\v2.0>aspnet_regiis.exe -pz "YourCustomKey"
Deleting RSA Key container...
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\SDK\v2.0>aspnet_regiis.exe -pi "YourCustomKey" "c:\temp\CustomKeys.xml" -exp
Importing RSA Keys from file..
(At this point the web app with the encrypted web.config works locally)
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\SDK\v2.0>aspnet_regiis.exe -pdf connectionStrings "C:\Documents and Settings\Steve Schofield\My Documents\Visual Studio 2005\Web Sites\YourWebsitePath"
Decrypting configuration section...
(At this point I check web.config and see its decrypted)
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\SDK\v2.0>aspnet_regiis.exe -pef connectionStrings "C:\Documents and Settings\Steve Schofield\My Documents\Visual Studio 2005\Web Sites\YourWebsitePath" -prov
Encrypting configuration section...
Check web.config and its encrypted)
Upload web.config to remote host
After I imported the RSA key and I downloaded the encrypted web.config file, I kept getting an error when I tried to decrypt it locally: "The RSA key container could not be opened. Failed"
Then tried encrypting an un-encrypted web.config locally with the imported key.. Uploaded the new encrypted web.config file to the server and now everything works locally in the development pc and on the server.