ASP.NET Tip: Encrypting a Configuration File Section

Leaving passwords unencrypted in a configuration file is generally considered a bad idea. Although some level of access is required to get to the file, encrypting the passwords—especially database passwords—adds a layer of security. However, implementing this type of encryption has been a bit difficult until ASP.NET 2.0. Microsoft provided the Data Protection API prior to 2.0, but did not provide a .NET interface to these methods.

With ASP.NET 2.0, you now have the ability to encrypt portions of your configuration file by using the aspnet_regiis.exe utility, located in the \Windows\Framework\v2.0.50727 folder (assuming your Windows root is \Windows). Unfortunately, the Microsoft documentation makes using this command much harder than it really needs to be. By using this simple command, you can pick a section (such as connectionStrings, appSettings, and so forth) in your Web.config file to encrypt:

aspnet_regiis -pef appSettings C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\mysite

This encrypts the section of your configuration file. The -pdf option decrypts it:

aspnet_regiis -pdf appSettings C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\mysite

This will work with any of the built-in sections under the configuration node. You need to do the encryption and decryption on the same machine, unless you take some extra steps to create a shared key that can be used in a server farm, for instance. The Microsoft documentation provides more examples on the more complicated methods of using this code.

Although this is handy for built-in sections, my own testing showed that it does not work properly with custom configuration sections that you may have defined on your own. I'll continue to search for an answer and provide it in a future tip if I find it.

About the Author

Eric Smith is the owner of Northstar Computer Systems, a Web-hosting company based in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is also a MCT and MCSD who has been developing with .NET since 2001. In addition, he has written or contributed to 12 books covering .NET, ASP, and Visual Basic. Send him your questions and feedback via e-mail at questions@techniquescentral.com.



Comments

  • very importent

    Posted by mor_tsalah on 02/03/2009 03:15am

    [Edit] [Delete] i need some code in c# that find how is the user who working on the current computer (by ip address). another, i need to know how can i get the properties on object from the active directory. it`s very importent to me. thanks.

    Reply
Leave a Comment
  • Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

Top White Papers and Webcasts

  • Wednesday, September 24, 2014 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM PDT According to a recent Forrester Research report, many companies are choosing low-code platforms over traditional programming platforms, due to the speed with which low-code apps can be assembled and tested. With customer-facing applications on the rise, traditional programming platforms simply can't keep up with the "short schedules and rapid change cycles" required to develop these applications. Check out this upcoming webinar and join Clay Richardson from …

  • Live Webinar Tuesday, August 26, 2014 1:00 PM EDT Customers are more empowered and connected than ever, and the customer's journey has grown more complex. Their expectations are growing and trust is diminishing as they may interact with multiple brands through web, mobile and social channels. Considering 70% of the buying process in a complex sale is already complete before prospects are willing to engage with a live salesperson -- it's critical to understand your customers and anticipate their needs.* …

Most Popular Programming Stories

More for Developers

Latest Developer Headlines

RSS Feeds