Key Import and Export

You can import and export symmetric keys and asymmetric keys with CNG. And you can use key export and import functionality to move keys between machines.

Symmetric keys

To import or export symmetric (or session) keys in which the same key is used to encrypt and decrypt some data, you can use the BCryptImportKey and BCryptExportKey functions. Typically, you first export a key by using the BCryptExportKey function before importing by using the BCryptImportKey function. The functions are designed to enable encryption of exported and imported keys by using the hExportKey and hImportKey parameters; however, the Microsoft implementation of these functions does not support encryption of exported and imported keys.

Asymmetric keys

To import asymmetric (or public/private) key pairs in which one key is used to encrypt and the other is used to decrypt some data, you can use either of the BCryptImportKeyPair or NCryptImportKey functions. A CNG provider must encode the key pair by using a supported key BLOB type. BCryptExportKey can be used to create the encoded key BLOB. CNG Structures describes the key BLOB types and structures that Microsoft Key Storage Provider supports.

For BCryptExportKey to create a persisted key pair, the input key BLOB must contain a private key. Public keys are not persisted.

The key name and export policy are not part of the BLOB structure defined in CNG Structures. However, if a BLOB is of an opaque BLOB type (such as the memory image of an internal key state), the BLOB might contain the key name and export-policy properties.

The following procedure describes how to import a persisted private key with its properties.

To import a persisted key

  1. Create a persisted key by using the NCryptCreatePersistedKey function.
  2. Set any desired properties on the key object by using the NCryptSetProperty function.
  3. Set the import key BLOB as a property on the key, with the BLOB type as the property name.
  4. Finalize the persisted key import by using the NCryptFinalizeKey function.