Thursday, June 19, 2014

Base64 encoding in VBA

UPDATE: it's now a Gist.

Today's useful snippet: Base64 encoding in VBA (not VB.NET; the latter has a builtin API for that).

Encodes an array of bytes into a string. Doesn't make any assumptions about the bounds of the source array. Processes the entire array; can be trivially modified to deal with a array slice.

Public Function ToBase64(Src() As Byte) As String
    Const ALPHABET = "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/"

    Dim SrcLen As Long, i As Long, Remainder As Long
    Dim RLen As Long, Triad As Long, LastSrcIndex As Long
    SrcLen = UBound(Src) - LBound(Src) + 1
    Remainder = SrcLen Mod 3
    'Index of the first byte of the leftover 1- or 2-byte chunk
    RLen = LBound(Src) + SrcLen - Remainder
    LastSrcIndex = RLen - 3
    ToBase64 = ""
    'The 3 byte chunks of the block
    For i = LBound(Src) To LastSrcIndex Step 3
        Triad = (CLng(Src(i)) * &H10000) Or _
            (CLng(Src(i + 1)) * &H100) Or Src(i + 2)
        ToBase64 = ToBase64 & _
            Mid(ALPHABET, ((Triad \ &H40000) And &H3F) + 1, 1) & _
            Mid(ALPHABET, ((Triad \ &H1000) And &H3F) + 1, 1) & _
            Mid(ALPHABET, ((Triad \ &H40) And &H3F) + 1, 1) & _
            Mid(ALPHABET, (Triad And &H3F) + 1, 1)
    'The remainder, if any
    If Remainder = 1 Then
        ToBase64 = ToBase64 & _
            Mid(ALPHABET, ((Src(RLen) \ 4) And &H3F) + 1, 1) & _
            Mid(ALPHABET, ((Src(RLen) * &H10) And &H3F) + 1, 1) & "=="
    ElseIf Remainder = 2 Then
        Triad = (CLng(Src(RLen)) * &H100) Or Src(RLen + 1)
        ToBase64 = ToBase64 & _
            Mid(ALPHABET, ((Triad \ &H400) And &H3F) + 1, 1) & _
            Mid(ALPHABET, ((Triad \ &H10) And &H3F) + 1, 1) & _
            Mid(ALPHABET, ((Triad * 4) And &H3F) + 1, 1) & "="
    End If
End Function

A useful variation would use a preallocated buffer for the encoded chunk, with assignment to Mid() instead of concatenation. When encoding large pieces (>100KB), it makes sense to save on string allocation and copying.

The formula for the length of a Base64-encoded string is: ((SourceLength + 2) \ 3) * 4.

Friday, June 6, 2014

CryptoAPI issue I've found

Continuing with the crypto theme, this is a story about an issue in Microsoft CryptoAPI that I've discovered a few years ago. It was originally posted at an MSDN forum, but I thought I'd rather republish it here. I've used some pretty deep magic to get to this result.

I was debugging a problem that my customer had. He was trying to move an SSL client certificate from one WinXP SP2 box to another. He exported the certificate into a PFX file. When he was trying to import, he got the following message:

"An internal error occurred. The private key that you are importing might require a cryptographic service provider that is not installed on your system."

The private key in question was 1024-bit RSA with a SHA1 signature - very plain vanilla. We've tried the steps in KB919074 to no effect.

I've written a simple test program that would ask for certificate file path and an export password, then would try to read the certificate into a temp store by means of PFXImportCertStore(). It would fail with error 0x8009000b, NTE_BAD_KEY_STATE.

Further analysis traced the error to the following call stack:

0x77ab0b9c CRYPT32.dll+0x30b9c - CryptProtectData()
0xffeb7ad rsaenh.dll+0x1b7ad - MyCryptProtectData()
0xffebda2 rsaenh.dll+0x1bda2 - TryDPAPI()
0xffdd599 rsaenh.dll+0xd599 - OpenUserKeyGroup()
0xffdeb3e rsaenh.dll+0xeb3e - NTagLogonUser()
0xffded6e rsaenh.dll+0xed6e - CPAcquireContext()
0x77de8307 ADVAPI32.dll+0x18307 - CryptAcquireContextA()
0x77de8675 ADVAPI32.dll+0x18675 - CryptAcquireContextW()
0x77a866c6 CRYPT32.dll+0x66c6 - HCryptProv_Query_Func()
0x77af5609 CRYPT32.dll+0x75609 - ???
0x77aef215 CRYPT32.dll+0x6f215 - CryptImportPKCS8()
0x77af5af3 CRYPT32.dll+0x75af3 - CertImportSafeContents()
0x77aef800 CRYPT32.dll+0x6f800 - PFXImportCertStore()
0x401193 ImpCert.exe+0x1193 (that's my code)

So CryptProtectData fails with NTE_BAD_KEY_STATE, which causes CryptAcquireContext to fail, which causes the import to fail. And that's even before the CryptoAPI starts to do anything about the certificate we're importing. Why would it call CryptProtectData during context acquisition - beats me.

CryptProtectData() calls, via RPC, into the Protected Storage service, which resides in the LSASS. From the disassembly of lsasrv.dll: SPCryptProtect() calls into GetSpecifiedMasterKey(), which can return NTE_BAD_KEY_STATE.

Finally, the answer: The file
c:\Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data\Microsoft\Protect\CREDHIST
was read-only. Once they cleared the read-only flag, everything was fine, and the certificate imported as expected.

A similar issue is described in the Intuit knowledge base.
Original write-up at the MSDN forum is here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

OpenSSL vs. the Microsoft crypto stack

I'd like to publish a Microsoft Word VBA macro for my co-workers. I would also like to have it digitally signed, so that Word doesn't complain about scary insecure macros.

I know that my organization runs a certificate authority (CA) on a Microsoft platform. Every corporate computer trusts that CA. The CA has a Web-based UI for requesting certificates, but doesn't explicitly allow for requesting code signing certificates. It has, however, an "Advanced certificate request" form, where you can paste a Base64-encoded certificate signing request. The problem is creating one that the Microsoft crypto stack (including VBA) would play nicely with.

There are numerous tutorials on the Web regarding code signing certificate generation, but those mostly deal with either commercial certificate vendors, or with self-signed certificates. This case is somewhere in between.

By now, I've found a way to generate an arbitrtary CSR using Microsoft tools. But back at the time, I've decided to go all low-level with OpenSSL under Cygwin. OpenSSL has all the necessary commands for creating RSA keys, certificate signing requests (CSRs), and signed certificates.

First, you need to create a private/public RSA key pair:

openssl genrsa -out Key.pem 2048

This generates an unencrypted, 2048-bit RSA key pair and stores it in Key.pem.

Now you need to put together a CSR with your information. Some of the parameters can't be set from the command line, so a config file is in order. It would looks like this:


CN=John Doe
OU=Software Engineering
O=Acme Software
L=New York


The contents of the DN ("distinguished name") section will go into the "Subject" line in the final certificate. The 1.OU line has to do with the fact that the config file syntax doesn't allow for several OU lines ("organizational units") in a section, but the certificate/CSR syntax does. Also, the DN should be written in reverse order; in the final certificate, the order of fields will be from bottom to top.

Save this as req.txt, and run the following command:

openssl req -new -config req.txt -key Key.pem -out SignReq.pem

SignReq.pem now contains the CSR in Base64 form. Paste its contents into the CA's Web form (or use whatever submission mechanism your CA uses), and wait for approval from whoever runs the CA.

Once the approval comes, you'll receive a signed certificate file. Depending on the CA, you may get it either in PEM format (text, Base64-encoded), or in DER (binary). In the latter case, you can use OpenSSL to convert (assuming SignedCert.der is the binary file you've got from the CA):

openssl x509 -in SignedCert.der -inform DER -out SignedCert.pem -outform PEM

Microsoft tools assign the .cer extension to certificates in both PEM and DER format. You can view either by double-clicking in Windows Explorer. But the following OpenSSL command requires the certificate as PEM.

Now you need to convert the private key and the signed certificate to PFX form, so that Windows may import it into the certificate store. For that, use the following command:

openssl pkcs12 -export -in SignedCert.pem -inkey Key.pem -out CertWithKey.pfx

It will prompt for an export password; memorize it, as you'll need it to import the certificate/key pair into Windows' store. It will generate a file called CertWithKey.pfx that would contain both the signed certificate and the private key.

Now double-click the CertWithKey.pfx file in Windows Explorer (or right-click and choose "Install PFX"). The import UI will pop up; click through it, and provide the export password from the step above when prompted. On the same screen, I'd recommend marking the key as exportable and enabling private key protection.

That's it. Now the certificate should appear whenever you're choosing one in VBA.

All the OpenSSL commands I've mentioned are documented here.