Wrapping a key using OpenSSL on Linux

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This topic shows how to manually wrap a key before importing the key into Cloud KMS. You only need to follow the instructions in this topic if you do not want to use the Google Cloud CLI to automatically wrap the key before importing it. For an overview of the differences, refer to How key import works.

You can complete the steps in this topic in 5 to 10 minutes, not including the Before you begin steps.

Before you begin

Before you can wrap a key, you must complete the following prerequisites.

  1. Create a target key ring and key, and create an import job.
  2. Verify that your key is available locally and formatted correctly for import into Cloud KMS.
  3. Patch and recompile OpenSSL

Retrieve the wrapping key

This section shows how to retrieve the wrapping key from the import job you created in Before you begin. Using the Google Cloud console is recommended.


  1. Go to the Key Management page in the Google Cloud console.

    Go to the Key Management page

  2. Click the name of the key ring that contains your import job.

  3. Click the Import Jobs tab at the top of the page.

  4. Click More , then Download wrapping key in the pop-up menu.

gcloud CLI

To verify that the import job is active, run the gcloud kms import-jobs describe command:

gcloud kms import-jobs describe IMPORT_JOB \
  --location LOCATION \
  --keyring KEY_RING \
state: ACTIVE

Run the following command to save the public key from the import job to ${HOME}/wrapping-key.pem

gcloud kms import-jobs describe \
  --location=LOCATION \
  --keyring=KEY_RING \
  --format="value(publicKey.pem)" \
  IMPORT_JOB > ${HOME}/wrapping-key.pem


  1. Call the ImportJob.get method.

  2. Retrieve the public key via the publicKey field of the ImportJob.get response. This value is of type WrappingPublicKey. The pem field of the WrappingPublicKey type is the public key encoded in Privacy Enhanced Mail (PEM) format.

For more information about the PEM-encoded format, see RFC 7468, especially the General Considerations and Textual Encoding of Subject Public Key Info sections.

Set up environment variables

The OpenSSL commands require several file paths as input values. Define environment variables for the file paths to make it easier to run the commands. Make sure you have access to write to the directories you define below.

  1. Set the PUB_WRAPPING_KEY variable to the full path to the wrapping key you downloaded from the import job. The wrapping key ends in .pem.


  2. Set the TARGET_KEY variable to the full path to the unwrapped (target) key.


    Replace TARGET_KEY_PATH with the path to the .bin file for symmetric keys or the path to the .der file for asymmetric keys.

  3. If wrapping with RSA-AES, set the TEMP_AES_KEY variable to the full path to the temporary AES key.


  4. Set the WRAPPED_KEY variable to the full path where you want to save the wrapped target key that is ready for import.


  5. Verify that all the environment variables are set correctly using the following commands:

    echo "TARGET_KEY: " ${TARGET_KEY}; \
    echo "TEMP_AES_KEY: " ${TEMP_AES_KEY}; \

When the variables are set correctly, you are ready to wrap the key. There are two approaches as described below: with RSA only or with RSA-AES.

Wrap the key

Wrap the key with RSA

In this approach, the target key is wrapped in an RSA block. The target key size is therefore limited. For example, you can't use this method to wrap another RSA key. The supported import methods are rsa-oaep-3072-sha256 and rsa-oaep-4096-sha256.

  • Wrap the target key with the wrapping public key using the CKM_RSA_PKCS_OAEP algorithm:

    openssl pkeyutl \
      -encrypt \
      -pubin \
      -inkey ${PUB_WRAPPING_KEY} \
      -in ${TARGET_KEY} \
      -out ${WRAPPED_KEY} \
      -pkeyopt rsa_padding_mode:oaep \
      -pkeyopt rsa_oaep_md:sha256 \
      -pkeyopt rsa_mgf1_md:sha256

Wrap the key with RSA-AES

In this approach, the target key is wrapped with a temporary AES key. The temporary AES key is then wrapped by the RSA key. These two wrapped keys are concatenated and imported. Because the target key is wrapped using AES rather than RSA, this approach can be used to wrap large keys. The supported import methods are rsa-oaep-3072-sha1-aes-256, rsa-oaep-4096-sha1-aes-256, rsa-oaep-3072-sha256-aes-256 and rsa-oaep-4096-sha256-aes-256.

  1. Generate a temporary random AES key that is 32 bytes long, and save it to the location identified by ${TEMP_AES_KEY}:

    openssl rand -out "${TEMP_AES_KEY}" 32

  2. Wrap the temporary AES key with the wrapping public key using the CKM_RSA_PKCS_OAEP algorithm. If the import method is either rsa-oaep-3072-sha1-aes-256 or rsa-oaep-4096-sha1-aes-256, use sha1 for rsa_oaep_md and rsa_mgf1_md. Use sha256 for rsa-oaep-3072-sha256-aes-256 and rsa-oaep-4096-sha256-aes-256.

    openssl pkeyutl \
      -encrypt \
      -pubin \
      -inkey ${PUB_WRAPPING_KEY} \
      -in ${TEMP_AES_KEY} \
      -out ${WRAPPED_KEY} \
      -pkeyopt rsa_padding_mode:oaep \
      -pkeyopt rsa_oaep_md:{sha1|sha256} \
      -pkeyopt rsa_mgf1_md:{sha1|sha256}

  3. Set the OpenSSL_V110 variable to the path of your openssl.sh script. If you followed the instructions for patching and recompiling OpenSSL exactly, you can use this command without modifying the value of the variable.


  4. Wrap the target key with the temporary AES key using the CKM_AES_KEY_WRAP_PAD algorithm, and append it to the WRAPPED_KEY.

    "${OPENSSL_V110}" enc \
      -id-aes256-wrap-pad \
      -iv A65959A6 \
      -K $( hexdump -v -e '/1 "%02x"' < "${TEMP_AES_KEY}" ) \
      -in "${TARGET_KEY}" >> "${WRAPPED_KEY}"

    The -iv A65959A6 flag sets A65959A6 as the Alternate Initial Value. This is required by the RFC 5649 specification.

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