24 Mar 2009

It is very easy to encrypt a section of the Web.config file using Aspnet_regiis.exe tool, but there is no equivalent tool to encrypt a section of an application configuration file (App.config). It can be done very easily in code, as explained in this post, but there is now way to do that automatically. So I decided to write a PowerShell script that would encode a section of the given application's configuration file.

Here is what it looks like:

  [String] $appPath = $(throw "Application exe file path is mandatory"),
  [String] $sectionName = $(throw "Configuration section is mandatory"),
  [String] $dataProtectionProvider = "DataProtectionConfigurationProvider"

#The System.Configuration assembly must be loaded
$configurationAssembly = "System.Configuration, Version=, Culture=Neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a"
[void] [Reflection.Assembly]::Load($configurationAssembly)

Write-Host "Encrypting configuration section..."

$configuration = [System.Configuration.ConfigurationManager]::OpenExeConfiguration($appPath)
$section = $configuration.GetSection($sectionName)

if (-not $section.SectionInformation.IsProtected)
  $section.SectionInformation.ForceSave = [System.Boolean]::True;

Write-Host "Succeeded!"

Some explanation on the script:

  • System.Configuration assembly must be loaded. To do this, I use a technique described in a post from Lee Holmes.
  • The default data protection provider is DataProtectionConfigurationProvider. Still, you can specify another provider (for example, RSAProtectedConfigurationProvider) as a third argument.

Believe it or not, that was the easy part.

The next step is to run this script automatically as a Post-build event in Visual Studio, so the .config file that is "built" is encrypted. Sounds very easy, but is actually tricky, I had to try many times to get it right.

I will give it straight away, here is the command to put in the Post-build event:

powershell "& ""C:\Documents and Settings\VlericP\My Documents\WindowsPowerShell\EncryptAppConfigSection.ps1""" '$(TargetPath)' 'connectionStrings'

There are lot of quotes, but this is the only way to get it working. For detailed explanations on why, see this post: Invoking a PowerShell script from cmd.exe (or Start | Run).

Using this, you can have your App.config file unencrypted in your solution, and when you build the output .config file is encrypted.

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