How To: Encrypt/Decrypt File with OpenSSL


Encrypt/Decrypt File

When security and integrity of a file is critical, such as with x509 certificates or other important documents, OpenSSL or other variant can be used to secure the file. With strong encryption and -hopefully- a strong password.

OpenSSL is generally available on all UNIX variants, downloadable as an executable for Windows and is also used with many other applications through the LibCrypto library.

If you need help picking a strong password, I’d recommend StrongPasswordGenerator.Com. Never share the password with the receiving party over the same medium as the file transmission. Send it Out-Of-Band over a SMS or Telephone Call or similar.

In the following example, we take a file and encrypt it using AES-256-CBC, protecting it using a password and adding a salt for extra randomness. The output is added to a newly created file.

~$ openssl enc -salt -aes-256-cbc -in TuxPics.tgz -out TuxPics.tgz.enc
enter aes-256-cbc encryption password: q55Tc9Hp68-Ry4d
Verifying - enter aes-256-cbc encryption password: q55Tc9Hp68-Ry4d

The content of TuxFiles.tgz.enc is perceived as a random binary string to EVE when in transit on the open network.

In the next example, we do the reverse action. Decrypting the file using the same password and appending the output to a new file.

~$ openssl enc -aes-256-cbc -d -in TuxFiles.tgz.enc > TuxFiles.tgz
enter aes-256-cbc decryption password: q55Tc9Hp68-Ry4d

In case the file type is not known from the decrytion result (stdout), the “file” command can be used when running Linux.

~$ file TuxPics
TuxPics: gzip compressed data

Have fun!

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