25. Spring Security Crypto Module

25.1 Introduction

The Spring Security Crypto module provides support for symmetric encryption, key generation, and password encoding. The code is distributed as part of the core module but has no dependencies on any other Spring Security (or Spring) code.

25.2 Encryptors

The Encryptors class provides factory methods for constructing symmetric encryptors. Using this class, you can create ByteEncryptors to encrypt data in raw byte[] form. You can also construct TextEncryptors to encrypt text strings. Encryptors are thread safe.

25.2.1 BytesEncryptor

Use the Encryptors.standard factory method to construct a "standard" BytesEncryptor:

Encryptors.standard("password", "salt");

The "standard" encryption method is 256-bit AES using PKCS #5's PBKDF2 (Password-Based Key Derivation Function #2). This method requires Java 6. The password used to generate the SecretKey should be kept in a secure place and not be shared. The salt is used to prevent dictionary attacks against the key in the event your encrypted data is compromised. A 16-byte random initialization vector is also applied so each encrypted message is unique.

The provided salt should be in hex-encoded String form, be random, and be at least 8 bytes in length. Such a salt may be generated using a KeyGenerator:

String salt = KeyGenerators.string().generateKey(); // generates a random 8-byte salt that is then hex-encoded

25.2.2 TextEncryptor

Use the Encryptors.text factory method to construct a standard TextEncryptor:

Encryptors.text("password", "salt");

A TextEncryptor uses a standard BytesEncryptor to encrypt text data. Encrypted results are returned as hex-encoded strings for easy storage on the filesystem or in the database.

Use the Encryptors.queryableText factory method to construct a "queryable" TextEncryptor:

Encryptors.queryableText("password", "salt");

The difference between a queryable TextEncryptor and a standard TextEncryptor has to do with initialization vector (iv) handling. The iv used in a queryable TextEncryptor#encrypt operation is shared, or constant, and is not randomly generated. This means the same text encrypted multiple times will always produce the same encryption result. This is less secure, but necessary for encrypted data that needs to be queried against. An example of queryable encrypted text would be an OAuth apiKey.

25.3 Key Generators

The KeyGenerators class provides a number of convenience factory methods for constructing different types of key generators. Using this class, you can create a BytesKeyGenerator to generate byte[] keys. You can also construct a StringKeyGenerator to generate string keys. KeyGenerators are thread safe.

25.3.1 BytesKeyGenerator

Use the KeyGenerators.secureRandom factory methods to generate a BytesKeyGenerator backed by a SecureRandom instance:

KeyGenerator generator = KeyGenerators.secureRandom();
byte[] key = generator.generateKey();

The default key length is 8 bytes. There is also a KeyGenerators.secureRandom variant that provides control over the key length:


Use the KeyGenerators.shared factory method to construct a BytesKeyGenerator that always returns the same key on every invocation:


25.3.2 StringKeyGenerator

Use the KeyGenerators.string factory method to construct a 8-byte, SecureRandom KeyGenerator that hex-encodes each key as a String:


25.4 Password Encoding

The password package of the spring-security-crypto module provides support for encoding passwords. PasswordEncoder is the central service interface and has the following signature:

public interface PasswordEncoder {
    String encode(String rawPassword);
    boolean matches(String rawPassword, String encodedPassword);

The matches method returns true if the rawPassword, once encoded, equals the encodedPassword. This method is designed to support password-based authentication schemes.

The StandardPasswordEncoder implementation applies 1024 iterations of the SHA-256 hashing algorithm to the rawPassword combined with a site-wide secret and 8-byte random salt:

StandardPasswordEncoder encoder = new StandardPasswordEncoder("secret");
String result = encoder.encode("myPassword");
assertTrue(encoder.matches("myPassword", result));

The random salt ensures each hash is unique when the same password is used multiple times. The site-wide secret should be stored in a safe place separate from where passwords are stored, and is used to protect against a bruce force attack in the event the database of passwords is compromised. 1024 iterations of the hashing algorithm strengthens the key and makes it more difficult to compromise using a brute force attack.