Next: , Previous: , Up: More on certificate authentication   [Contents][Index]


4.2.5 Managing encrypted keys

Transferring or storing private keys in plain may not be a good idea, since any compromise is irreparable. Storing the keys in hardware security modules (see Smart cards and HSMs) could solve the storage problem but it is not always practical or efficient enough. This section describes ways to store and transfer encrypted private keys.

There are methods for key encryption, namely the PKCS #8, PKCS #12 and OpenSSL’s custom encrypted private key formats. The PKCS #8 and the OpenSSL’s method allow encryption of the private key, while the PKCS #12 method allows, in addition, the bundling of accompanying data into the structure. That is typically the corresponding certificate, as well as a trusted CA certificate.

High level functionality

Generic and higher level private key import functions are available, that import plain or encrypted keys and will auto-detect the encrypted key format.

Function: int gnutls_privkey_import_x509_raw (gnutls_privkey_t pkey, const gnutls_datum_t * data, gnutls_x509_crt_fmt_t format, const char * password, unsigned int flags)

pkey: The private key

data: The private key data to be imported

format: The format of the private key

password: A password (optional)

flags: an ORed sequence of gnutls_pkcs_encrypt_flags_t

This function will import the given private key to the abstract gnutls_privkey_t type.

The supported formats are basic unencrypted key, PKCS8, PKCS12, and the openssl format.

Returns: On success, GNUTLS_E_SUCCESS (0) is returned, otherwise a negative error value.

Since: 3.1.0

Function: int gnutls_x509_privkey_import2 (gnutls_x509_privkey_t key, const gnutls_datum_t * data, gnutls_x509_crt_fmt_t format, const char * password, unsigned int flags)

key: The data to store the parsed key

data: The DER or PEM encoded key.

format: One of DER or PEM

password: A password (optional)

flags: an ORed sequence of gnutls_pkcs_encrypt_flags_t

This function will import the given DER or PEM encoded key, to the native gnutls_x509_privkey_t format, irrespective of the input format. The input format is auto-detected.

The supported formats are basic unencrypted key, PKCS8, PKCS12, and the openssl format.

If the provided key is encrypted but no password was given, then GNUTLS_E_DECRYPTION_FAILED is returned. Since GnuTLS 3.4.0 this function will utilize the PIN callbacks if any.

Returns: On success, GNUTLS_E_SUCCESS (0) is returned, otherwise a negative error value.

Any keys imported using those functions can be imported to a certificate credentials structure using gnutls_certificate_set_key, or alternatively they can be directly imported using gnutls_certificate_set_x509_key_file2.

PKCS #8 structures

PKCS #8 keys can be imported and exported as normal private keys using the functions below. An addition to the normal import functions, are a password and a flags argument. The flags can be any element of the gnutls_pkcs_encrypt_flags_t enumeration. Note however, that GnuTLS only supports the PKCS #5 PBES2 encryption scheme. Keys encrypted with the obsolete PBES1 scheme cannot be decrypted.

int gnutls_x509_privkey_import_pkcs8 (gnutls_x509_privkey_t key, const gnutls_datum_t * data, gnutls_x509_crt_fmt_t format, const char * password, unsigned int flags)
int gnutls_x509_privkey_export_pkcs8 (gnutls_x509_privkey_t key, gnutls_x509_crt_fmt_t format, const char * password, unsigned int flags, void * output_data, size_t * output_data_size)
int gnutls_x509_privkey_export2_pkcs8 (gnutls_x509_privkey_t key, gnutls_x509_crt_fmt_t format, const char * password, unsigned int flags, gnutls_datum_t * out)
GNUTLS_PKCS_PLAIN

Unencrypted private key.

GNUTLS_PKCS_PKCS12_3DES

PKCS-12 3DES.

GNUTLS_PKCS_PKCS12_ARCFOUR

PKCS-12 ARCFOUR.

GNUTLS_PKCS_PKCS12_RC2_40

PKCS-12 RC2-40.

GNUTLS_PKCS_PBES2_3DES

PBES2 3DES.

GNUTLS_PKCS_PBES2_AES_128

PBES2 AES-128.

GNUTLS_PKCS_PBES2_AES_192

PBES2 AES-192.

GNUTLS_PKCS_PBES2_AES_256

PBES2 AES-256.

GNUTLS_PKCS_NULL_PASSWORD

Some schemas distinguish between an empty and a NULL password.

GNUTLS_PKCS_PBES2_DES

PBES2 single DES.

GNUTLS_PKCS_PBES1_DES_MD5

– undescribed –

Figure 4.5: Encryption flags

PKCS #12 structures

A PKCS #12 structure [PKCS12] usually contains a user’s private keys and certificates. It is commonly used in browsers to export and import the user’s identities. A file containing such a key can be directly imported to a certificate credentials structure by using gnutls_certificate_set_x509_simple_pkcs12_file.

In GnuTLS the PKCS #12 structures are handled using the gnutls_pkcs12_t type. This is an abstract type that may hold several gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t types. The bag types are the holders of the actual data, which may be certificates, private keys or encrypted data. A bag of type encrypted should be decrypted in order for its data to be accessed.

To reduce the complexity in parsing the structures the simple helper function gnutls_pkcs12_simple_parse is provided. For more advanced uses, manual parsing of the structure is required using the functions below.

int gnutls_pkcs12_get_bag (gnutls_pkcs12_t pkcs12, int indx, gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag)
int gnutls_pkcs12_verify_mac (gnutls_pkcs12_t pkcs12, const char * pass)
int gnutls_pkcs12_bag_decrypt (gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag, const char * pass)
int gnutls_pkcs12_bag_get_count (gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag)
Function: int gnutls_pkcs12_simple_parse (gnutls_pkcs12_t p12, const char * password, gnutls_x509_privkey_t * key, gnutls_x509_crt_t ** chain, unsigned int * chain_len, gnutls_x509_crt_t ** extra_certs, unsigned int * extra_certs_len, gnutls_x509_crl_t * crl, unsigned int flags)

p12: A pkcs12 type

password: optional password used to decrypt the structure, bags and keys.

key: a structure to store the parsed private key.

chain: the corresponding to key certificate chain (may be NULL )

chain_len: will be updated with the number of additional (may be NULL )

extra_certs: optional pointer to receive an array of additional certificates found in the PKCS12 structure (may be NULL ).

extra_certs_len: will be updated with the number of additional certs (may be NULL ).

crl: an optional structure to store the parsed CRL (may be NULL ).

flags: should be zero or one of GNUTLS_PKCS12_SP_*

This function parses a PKCS12 structure in pkcs12 and extracts the private key, the corresponding certificate chain, any additional certificates and a CRL.

The extra_certs and extra_certs_len parameters are optional and both may be set to NULL . If either is non-NULL , then both must be set. The value for extra_certs is allocated using gnutls_malloc() .

Encrypted PKCS12 bags and PKCS8 private keys are supported, but only with password based security and the same password for all operations.

Note that a PKCS12 structure may contain many keys and/or certificates, and there is no way to identify which key/certificate pair you want. For this reason this function is useful for PKCS12 files that contain only one key/certificate pair and/or one CRL.

If the provided structure has encrypted fields but no password is provided then this function returns GNUTLS_E_DECRYPTION_FAILED .

Note that normally the chain constructed does not include self signed certificates, to comply with TLS’ requirements. If, however, the flag GNUTLS_PKCS12_SP_INCLUDE_SELF_SIGNED is specified then self signed certificates will be included in the chain.

Prior to using this function the PKCS 12 structure integrity must be verified using gnutls_pkcs12_verify_mac() .

Returns: On success, GNUTLS_E_SUCCESS (0) is returned, otherwise a negative error value.

Since: 3.1.0

int gnutls_pkcs12_bag_get_data (gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag, unsigned indx, gnutls_datum_t * data)
int gnutls_pkcs12_bag_get_key_id (gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag, unsigned indx, gnutls_datum_t * id)
int gnutls_pkcs12_bag_get_friendly_name (gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag, unsigned indx, char ** name)

The functions below are used to generate a PKCS #12 structure. An example of their usage is shown at PKCS12 structure generation example.

int gnutls_pkcs12_set_bag (gnutls_pkcs12_t pkcs12, gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag)
int gnutls_pkcs12_bag_encrypt (gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag, const char * pass, unsigned int flags)
int gnutls_pkcs12_generate_mac (gnutls_pkcs12_t pkcs12, const char * pass)
int gnutls_pkcs12_bag_set_data (gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag, gnutls_pkcs12_bag_type_t type, const gnutls_datum_t * data)
int gnutls_pkcs12_bag_set_crl (gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag, gnutls_x509_crl_t crl)
int gnutls_pkcs12_bag_set_crt (gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag, gnutls_x509_crt_t crt)
int gnutls_pkcs12_bag_set_key_id (gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag, unsigned indx, const gnutls_datum_t * id)
int gnutls_pkcs12_bag_set_friendly_name (gnutls_pkcs12_bag_t bag, unsigned indx, const char * name)

OpenSSL encrypted keys

Unfortunately the structures discussed in the previous sections are not the only structures that may hold an encrypted private key. For example the OpenSSL library offers a custom key encryption method. Those structures are also supported in GnuTLS with gnutls_x509_privkey_import_openssl.

Function: int gnutls_x509_privkey_import_openssl (gnutls_x509_privkey_t key, const gnutls_datum_t * data, const char * password)

key: The data to store the parsed key

data: The DER or PEM encoded key.

password: the password to decrypt the key (if it is encrypted).

This function will convert the given PEM encrypted to the native gnutls_x509_privkey_t format. The output will be stored in key .

The password should be in ASCII. If the password is not provided or wrong then GNUTLS_E_DECRYPTION_FAILED will be returned.

If the Certificate is PEM encoded it should have a header of "PRIVATE KEY" and the "DEK-Info" header.

Returns: On success, GNUTLS_E_SUCCESS (0) is returned, otherwise a negative error value.


Next: , Previous: , Up: More on certificate authentication   [Contents][Index]