Stephen Edmonds Stephen Edmonds - 2 months ago 29
C++ Question

Creating a temporary client certificate (including a private key)

As part of an application I am writing, I wish for my program to temporarily install a certificate on the local machine and for WinHTTP to use it as the client certificate when connecting to a web server. The aim of this is help protect the web server from unauthorised access (this certificate is only a layer of the security - I know someone could extract it from the .exe). I do not want the user to have to install the certificate and I do not want the certificate to be left on the PC when the application is not running.

At the moment, I'm trying this:

Install the certificate manually from a .p12 file

Use a C++ application to get the binary data out of the local certificate and into a C array in my application (using CryptExportKey and PCCERT_CONTEXT::pbCertEncoded)

Uninstall the certificate

When the application boots:

Open a temporary store for the certificate

m_certificateStoreHandle = CertOpenStore( CERT_STORE_PROV_MEMORY, 0, NULL, 0, NULL );

Call CertAddEncodedCertificateToStore to add the certificate

CertAddEncodedCertificateToStore( m_certificateStoreHandle,
reinterpret_cast< const BYTE * >( certificateData ),
&m_clientCertificate )

Call CryptAcquireContext to get somewhere to store the private key (I change the name of the key on each run for the moment - ideally I plan to use CRYPT_VERIFYCONTEXT to make the key non-persistant, but that's something to ignore for now)

HCRYPTPROV cryptProvider = NULL;
CryptAcquireContext( &cryptProvider, "MyTestKeyNumber123", NULL, PROV_RSA_FULL, CRYPT_NEWKEYSET )

Call CryptImportKey to load the private key into the key store

CryptImportKey( cryptProvider, reinterpret_cast< BYTE * >( privateKey ), keySize, 0, CRYPT_EXPORTABLE, &cryptKey )

Call CertSetCertificateContextProperty to link the certificate to the private key

char containerName[128];
DWORD containerNameSize = ARRAY_NUM_BYTES(containerName);
char providerName[128];
DWORD providerNameSize = ARRAY_NUM_BYTES(providerName);

CryptGetProvParam(cryptProvider, PP_CONTAINER, reinterpret_cast<byte *>(containerName), &containerNameSize, 0)
CryptGetProvParam(cryptProvider, PP_NAME, reinterpret_cast<byte *>(providerName), &providerNameSize, 0)

WCHAR containerNameWide[128];
convertCharToWChar(containerNameWide, containerName);
WCHAR providerNameWide[128];
convertCharToWChar(providerNameWide, providerName);

neMemZero(&privateKeyData, sizeof(privateKeyData));
privateKeyData.pwszContainerName = containerNameWide;
privateKeyData.pwszProvName = providerNameWide;
privateKeyData.dwProvType = 0;
privateKeyData.dwFlags = CRYPT_SILENT;
privateKeyData.dwKeySpec = AT_KEYEXCHANGE;

if ( CertSetCertificateContextProperty( m_clientCertificate, CERT_KEY_PROV_INFO_PROP_ID, 0, &privateKeyData ) )

Verify I can access the private key (Works, outputs exactly the same data as I have hardcoded into the application)

byte privateKeyBuffer[2048];
DWORD privateKeyBufferSize = ARRAY_NUM_BYTES(privateKeyBuffer);
memZero(privateKeyBuffer, privateKeyBufferSize);
if(CryptExportKey(cryptKey, 0, PRIVATEKEYBLOB, 0, privateKeyBuffer, &privateKeyBufferSize))
TRACE("Got private key!");
LOG_BUFFER(privateKeyBuffer, privateKeyBufferSize);

Attempt to verify the client certificate works as expected

char certNameBuffer[128] = "";
char certUrlBuffer[128] = "";
CertGetNameString(testValue, CERT_NAME_FRIENDLY_DISPLAY_TYPE, 0, NULL, certNameBuffer, ARRAY_NUM_BYTES(certNameBuffer));
CertGetNameString(testValue, CERT_NAME_URL_TYPE , 0, NULL, certUrlBuffer, ARRAY_NUM_BYTES(certUrlBuffer));
TRACE("SSL Certificate %s [%s]", certNameBuffer, certUrlBuffer);

DWORD privateKeyType;
BOOL freeKeyAfter = false;
if(CryptAcquireCertificatePrivateKey(testValue, CRYPT_ACQUIRE_NO_HEALING, NULL, &privateKey, &privateKeyType, &freeKeyAfter))
HCRYPTPROV privateKeyProvider = static_cast<HCRYPTPROV>(privateKey);
HCRYPTKEY privateKeyHandle;
if(CryptGetUserKey(privateKeyProvider, privateKeyType, &privateKeyHandle))
NEbyte privateKeyBuffer[2048];
DWORD privateKeyBufferSize = NE_ARRAY_NUM_BYTES(privateKeyBuffer);
neMemZero(privateKeyBuffer, privateKeyBufferSize);
if(CryptExportKey(privateKeyHandle, 0, PRIVATEKEYBLOB, 0, privateKeyBuffer, &privateKeyBufferSize))
NE_TRACE("Got private key!");
HTTP_LOG_BUFFER(neGetGlobalTraceLog(), "Key", "", privateKeyBuffer, privateKeyBufferSize);

At this stage, the private key is found but the call to CryptExportKey fails with NTE_BAD_KEY_STATE. When I try to use the client certificate with WinHTTP, I get ERROR_WINHTTP_CLIENT_CERT_NO_ACCESS_PRIVATE_KEY. If anyone is wondering, I tell WinHTTP to use the client certificate with this code:

if ( !WinHttpSetOption( handle,
sizeof( CERT_CONTEXT ) ) )
HTTP_LOG_ERROR( getLog(), "Setting the client certificate failed with error code %x", GetLastError() );

The way I see it, until I can somehow link the private key and the certificate together and make it so that I can use CryptAcquireCertificatePrivateKey with CryptExportKey to get the key data back out, WinHTTP doesn't stand a chance of being succesful.

Any thoughts as to why I can't seem to get my certificate to use the private key?


I didn't manage to get this approach working. Instead, I ended up using PFXImportCertStore along with the raw .p12 file containing the certificate and private key I wanted to use.

From what I've seen, it seems that PFXImportCertStore will create a new store in memory. The only thing I haven't been able to find out is if the private key is also stored in memory or if it ends up permenently on the PC somewhere. If I find out either way, I'll update this answer.

m_clientCertificateStoreHandle = PFXImportCertStore(&pfxData, certificatePassword, 0);
if(NULL != m_clientCertificateStoreHandle)
m_clientCertificateHandle = CertFindCertificateInStore( m_clientCertificateStoreHandle, X509_ASN_ENCODING | PKCS_7_ASN_ENCODING, 0, CERT_FIND_ANY, NULL, NULL );