Introduction

In this article I will explain how to encrypt or decrypt connection Strings in web.config file using asp.net.

Description

In Previous posts I explained lot of articles regarding Asp.net, Gridview, SQL Server, Ajax, JavaScript etc. In many of articles I used connection Strings section in web.config file to store database connection. The connection Strings section contains sensitive information of database connections including username and password of database. Is it secured to store the sensitive information of database connections in plain text files called web.config and machine.config files?

If we are using applications in our internal servers with security then it’s ok if we deploy our applications in shared host environment then we have chance to arise security problems to avoid these problems asp.net 2.0 provided built in protected configuration model functionality to encrypt or decrypt few sections of web.config file those are

RSAProtectedConfigurationProvider: This is default provider and uses the RSA public key encryption algorithm to encrypt and decrypt data.

DataProtectionConfgurationProvider: This provider uses windows data protection application programming interface to encrypt and decrypt the data.

The encrypting and decrypting of connection strings in web.config file will do by using aspnet_regiis.exe command line tool and code behind.

First Method

First we will do encryption and decryption using aspnet_regiis.exe command line tool in file system website

To implement encryption and decryption first create one new website using visual studio.

After that open web.config file in application and add sample db connection in connectionStringssection like this

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<connectionStrings>
<add name="dbconnection" connectionString="Data Source=RahulMittal;Integrated Security=true;Initial Catalog=MySampleDB"/>
</connectionStrings >

After add dbconnection in connectionString check the below steps to encrypt or decrypt the connection string in web.config.

1. 1) Go to Start >> All Programs >> Microsoft visual studio 2008 >> Visual Studio Tools >> Visual Studio 2008 Command Prompt (Note: if you’re using windows 7 right click on command prompt and select Run as administrator)

2. 2) after open command prompt type the following command aspnet_regiis.exe -pef “connectionStrings” “C:\VisualStudio2008\Authorization”

Here –pef indicates that the application is built as File System website. Second argumentconnectionStrings indicates that name of the configuration section needs to be encrypted. The Third argument is the physical path of the folder where the web.config file is located.

3. 3) after enter the command click enters if everything goes well we will get success message like “Encrypting configuration section… Succeeded!”

Now open your application and check connectionStrings in web.config file that would be like this

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<connectionStrings configProtectionProvider="RsaProtectedConfigurationProvider">
<EncryptedData Type="http://www.w3.org/2001/04/xmlenc#Element"
xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2001/04/xmlenc#">
<EncryptionMethod Algorithm="http://www.w3.org/2001/04/xmlenc#tripledes-cbc" />
<KeyInfo xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/09/xmldsig#">
<EncryptedKey xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2001/04/xmlenc#">
<EncryptionMethod Algorithm="http://www.w3.org/2001/04/xmlenc#rsa-1_5" />
<KeyInfo xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/09/xmldsig#">
<KeyName>Rsa Key</KeyName>
</KeyInfo>
<CipherData>
<CipherValue>ZNUbIEnOwlZzC8qbzHj5F2GS9gLYSkWCIgCJGkrgZAX8A+8oEIssyohhxUKvAubD3jizFc5IjbLGt7HNXhoFhXNTUPYz2y6tdKJDVgDmtCgVf8Z2C990zoMRBJG+VXhmgnlo1vtHYhGx8x/bBzE1prT1+xDpep98vHF22d+LrVI=</CipherValue>
</CipherData>
</EncryptedKey>
</KeyInfo>
<CipherData>
<CipherValue>tODWlPD0Q/B/mP14GQ/5tUxcjmhHcy9a0oPunV5osNrMQRztgi2h5V6sxJOEh+NC+G9gQNkv1huXf1s7eoZRRLy5/LDtLXzzqMUOqLSlJUs9igChvi33c9XG4rwGF15Tpn4N34bpQBt94n0rpSkQ18V9HCPzii+UO64PlA+ykDeQhc9aQr4gO3mCfUzmY2S9gsXzRbzdq0oCWBDvx8UkX2uDxaysVHC9Fo7u6IrlpU0+hOdK95Y3/A==</CipherValue>
</CipherData>
</EncryptedData>
</connectionStrings>

Here we don’t want to write any code to decrypt the encrypted connectionString in our application because .NET automatically decrypts it. If we want to use the connection string just call it like normal way

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string strconnection = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["dbconnection"].ToString();

Now if we want to decrypt connectionStrings section in web.config use the following commandaspnet_regiis.exe -pdf “connectionStrings” “C:\VisualStudio2008\Authorization”

After command execute we will get message like “Decrypting configuration section… Succeeded!”

Now check your connctionStrings section in your web.config file you will see decrypted connection string.

Till now we learned how to encrypt and decrypt connectionStrings section in File system website. If I want to encrypt connection string in IIS based site like i.e. Deployed website for that we need to use the following commands

Encrypt connectionStrings in web.config of IIS based site

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aspnet_regiis.exe -pe "connectionStrings" -app "/SampleWebSite"

Here –pe indicates that the application is built as IIS based site. Second argument connectionStrings is the name of configuration section needs to be encrypted. The Third argument -app indicates virtual directory and last argument is the name of virtual directory where application is deployed.

Decrypt connectionStrings in web.config of IIS based site

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aspnet_regiis.exe -pd "connectionStrings" -app "/SampleWebSite"

Till now we learned how to encrypt and decrypt connectionStrings section in web.config file using aspnet_regiis.exe command line tool now I will explain code behind method to encrypt and decrypt the connection string section in web.config.

Second Method: In second method I will use RSAProtectedConfigurationProvider and DataProtectionConfgurationProvider to encrypt and decrypt connectionStrings in web.config using asp.net.

First open Default.aspx page and write the following code

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<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<head  runat="server">
<title>Untitled Page</title>
</head>
<body>
<form id="form1"  runat="server">
<div>
<asp:Button id="btnEncrypt" runat="server" Text="Encrypt" onclick="btnEncrypt_Click" />
<asp:Button ID="btnDecrypt" runat="server" Text="Decrypt" onclick="btnDecrypt_Click" />
</div>
</form>
</body>
</html>

After that open code behind page and add the following namespace references

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using System;
using System.Configuration;
using System.Web.Configuration;

After add namespaces write the following code in code behind

C# code

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string provider = "RSAProtectedConfigurationProvider";
string section = "connectionStrings";
protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
{   }
protected void btnEncrypt_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
   Configuration confg = WebConfigurationManager.OpenWebConfiguration(Request.ApplicationPath);
   ConfigurationSection configSect = confg.GetSection(section);
   if (configSect != null)
   {
      configSect.SectionInformation.ProtectSection(provider);
      confg.Save();
   }
}   protected void btnDecrypt_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
   Configuration config = WebConfigurationManager.OpenWebConfiguration(Request.ApplicationPath);
   ConfigurationSection configSect = config.GetSection(section);
   if (configSect.SectionInformation.IsProtected)
   {
      configSect.SectionInformation.UnprotectSection();
      config.Save();
   }
}

VB.NET

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Imports System.Web.Configuration
Partial Class _Default
   Inherits System.Web.UI.Page
   Private provider As String = "RSAProtectedConfigurationProvider"
   Private section As String = "connectionStrings"
   Protected Sub Page_Load(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)
   End Sub
   Protected Sub btnEncrypt_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)
      Dim confg As Configuration = WebConfigurationManager.OpenWebConfiguration(Request.ApplicationPath)
      Dim confgSect As ConfigurationSection = confg.GetSection(section)
      If confgSect IsNot Nothing Then
         confgSect.SectionInformation.ProtectSection(provider)
         confg.Save()
      End If
   End Sub
   Protected Sub btnDecrypt_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)
      Dim config As Configuration = WebConfigurationManager.OpenWebConfiguration(Request.ApplicationPath)
      Dim confgSect As ConfigurationSection = config.GetSection(section)
      If confgSect.SectionInformation.IsProtected Then
         confgSect.SectionInformation.UnprotectSection()
         config.Save()
      End If
   End Sub
End Class

After that open web.config file in application and add sample db connection in connectionStrings section like this

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<connectionStrings>
<add name="dbconnection" connectionString="Data Source=RahulMittal;Integrated Security=true;Initial Catalog=MySampleDB"/>
</connectionStrings >

Now run your application and check your web.config file after click on Encrypt button that would be like this

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<connectionStrings configProtectionProvider="RsaProtectedConfigurationProvider">
<EncryptedData Type="http://www.w3.org/2001/04/xmlenc#Element"
xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2001/04/xmlenc#">
<EncryptionMethod Algorithm="http://www.w3.org/2001/04/xmlenc#tripledes-cbc" />
<KeyInfo xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/09/xmldsig#">
<EncryptedKey xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2001/04/xmlenc#">
<EncryptionMethod Algorithm="http://www.w3.org/2001/04/xmlenc#rsa-1_5" />
<KeyInfo xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/09/xmldsig#">
<KeyName>Rsa Key</KeyName>
</KeyInfo>
<CipherData>
<CipherValue>WagJ9DDjWTNc1nmYVNQXaQqXalQzXaiCHAOtUJvTWBRZiuT6UK1fBElM80PnL6dC5Umb8qvfHdkSMgoMW9CJzwOTZ0zTy17JBGZqRQmlfW2G9LacoWIil0UrxjhgmJmRXhwXHFpdGwEVl7AoQGVlJGabXuChutaTxmfGOoUbCr0=</CipherValue>
</CipherData>
</EncryptedKey>
</KeyInfo>
<CipherData>
<CipherValue>qry5qnr3qxOgyoNPeP7OKEiHpr/PPTsaeQ2mYUsSK7cg4Kkl9uPO4RyUXgBIkgCTsjbObqLlyndcSBnYyek6bxG/IBL82G1R5J1ci8i1eyt8kIDqouzYOx5vtouErld4z1L+7WGf9Wg37QAH5RiiEfkCHndJJq3dTqjxnnXZSno6NgbxSXDfqzwE/eKDVhGV3oaTQSfjVmO8e5a9wvREYeeyasDhojx8J2mdy7/Q9rEIpv98RTiRxA==</CipherValue>
</CipherData>
</EncryptedData>
</connectionStrings> 

By Enrico

My greatest passion is technology. I am interested in multiple fields and I have a lot of experience in software design and development. I started professional development when I was 6 years. Today I am a strong full-stack .NET developer (C#, Xamarin, Azure)

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