How to get the plaintext of a Secret Key Entry in Mozilla NSSDB PKCS11?

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AZ19AGENT Minecraft

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Oct 15, 2021, 10:10:10 AMOct 15
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I have a mozilla NSSDB PKCS11, it includes one of three things. Certificates, keys, and SecretKeyEntry. I would like to know the content of a SecretKeyEntry with the alias "StoreXKey". Firstly, is extracting the plaintext of a SecretKeyEntry possible? I seem to think so because of links: https://technosock.blogspot.com/2007/12/token-knowledge.html and https://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/security/KeyStore.SecretKeyEntry.html#getSecretKey

First link gives a way to do it ( which doesn't work for me ) the second link gives us a few methods, namely .getEncoded() which can supposedly be called on a SecretKeyEntry to get the byte array information.

Here is my code thus far, all results hit a null pointer exception when using the getEncoded message. I am sure the SecretKeyEntry exists in the NSSDB.

String configFile = "config.cfg"; 
Provider provider = Security.getProvider("SunPKCS11"); // I am confused on how to incorporate the config file as well. 
/* provider = provider.configure(configFile); // Does not work */ Security.addProvider(provider); 
String defaultPIN = "--.--.--.--.----.-...-.--"; 
try{ 
  KeyStore ks = KeyStore.getInstance("PKCS11"); 
  ks.load(null, defaultPIN.toCharArray()); 
  KeyStore.SecretKeyEntry skEntry = (KeyStore.SecretKeyEntry)        
  ks.getEntry("StoreXKey",null); // Do I need a password protector here?     
  System.out.println(new String(skEntry.getSecretKey().getEncoded())); <-- Error is thrown here.
 }catch (Exception e){ e.printStackTrace(); }

Any help / advice or links are appreciated.

Robert Relyea

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Oct 18, 2021, 1:06:16 PMOct 18
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On 10/14/21 12:25 PM, AZ19AGENT Minecraft wrote:

I have a mozilla NSSDB PKCS11, it includes one of three things. Certificates, keys, and SecretKeyEntry. I would like to know the content of a SecretKeyEntry with the alias "StoreXKey". Firstly, is extracting the plaintext of a SecretKeyEntry possible? I seem to think so because of links: https://technosock.blogspot.com/2007/12/token-knowledge.html and https://docs.oracle.com/javase/8/docs/api/java/security/KeyStore.SecretKeyEntry.html#getSecretKey


The answer is: "sort of, it's discouraged." In general NSS avoids giving application access to any cryptographically sensitive value. These include, secret keys, private keys, and internal RNG states. NSS does allow these things to be exported when wrapped with another secret key, so the application can transport and store these values, but not examine them.

The reason for this is two fold: 1) NSS is trying to preserve semantics between it's software key store and various hardware cryptographic token. The idea is we want NSS application to work with hardware tokens by just 'dropping it in' without extra work in the application. 2) when operating in FIPS mode, NSS manages all the FIPS requirements on the lifecycle (including the need to clear) this sensitive data. 3) Usually applications don't actually need to extract a key. I always ask the question, "Why do you need this?". In all the time I've worked on NSS (decades), I've only had 2 legitimate cases where it was necessary (one was key exchange with the kernel, the other was the key wasn't really a key, but a hash and NSS didn't provide an interface to access the hash as a hash). If this is a key exchange issue (you need to put the key in another provider), then I would suggest using a keyExchange algorithm and move the key encrypted between the two providers.

Preliminaries done, NSS provides a way to access secret keys using PK11_GetKeyData(). This function may return NULL if you are using a hardware token, or your NSS token is in FIPS mode. There are tricks to get around this, but it looks like you aren't using NSS directly, but trying to access softoken through the Jave Sun PKCS11 provider....

First link gives a way to do it ( which doesn't work for me ) the second link gives us a few methods, namely .getEncoded() which can supposedly be called on a SecretKeyEntry to get the byte array information.

Here is my code thus far, all results hit a null pointer exception when using the getEncoded message. I am sure the SecretKeyEntry exists in the NSSDB.

String configFile = "config.cfg"; 
Provider provider = Security.getProvider("SunPKCS11"); // I am confused on how to incorporate the config file as well. 
/* provider = provider.configure(configFile); // Does not work */ Security.addProvider(provider);
Softoken isn't a regular PKCS #11 module, it must be configured with the directory where NSS stores it key and cert database. I believe Sun Java knows how do this, but I don't know how that works since I don't use Java providers to access NSS... Anyway the fact you are failing here, probably means you aren't actually getting the NSS database.

String defaultPIN = "--.--.--.--.----.-...-.--"; 
try{ 
  KeyStore ks = KeyStore.getInstance("PKCS11"); 
  ks.load(null, defaultPIN.toCharArray()); 
  KeyStore.SecretKeyEntry skEntry = (KeyStore.SecretKeyEntry)        
  ks.getEntry("StoreXKey",null); // Do I need a password protector here?     
  System.out.println(new String(skEntry.getSecretKey().getEncoded())); <-- Error is thrown here.

If you are in FIPS mode, even with the Java PKCS11 provider properly initialized, This will likely fail because Java won't be able to access the secretKey directly, so getEncoded() will never work.

Again, I ask: what do you need the plaintext key for?


bob

 }catch (Exception e){ e.printStackTrace(); }

Any help / advice or links are appreciated.

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