Secret Key Encryption

Triple-DES

The System.Security.Cryptography namespace contains a class called TripleDESCryptoServiceProvider that provides Triple-DES encryption to your data. DES stands for Data Encryption Standard and the word triple is used because it encrypts the original data thrice.

The secret key encryption needs two things to encrypt the data:

  • A secret key
  • An initialization vector

The encryption algorithms employ use a chaining technique to encrypt the data. In this technique the entire data to be encrypted is divided in smaller blocks. The previously encrypted block of data is used to encrypt the current one and the process repeats.

The Initialization Vector (IV) serves as a seed that is used to encrypt and decrypt the first block of bytes. This ensures that no two blocks of data produce the same block of encrypted text.

For using TripleDESCryptoServiceProvider the encryption key must be of 24 bytes and the initialization vector must be of 8 bytes.

Example of using TripleDESCryptoServiceProvider class:

SecurityHelper.cs

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Cryptography and .NET Framework Introduction

Security is key consideration for many applications. Providing authentication and authorization services to your application is just one part of the overall security. What about the data that is being used and transferred in the application? That is where cryptography comes into picture. Cryptography is a huge topic by itself.

Many times application provide security features such as login forms and role based security. However, what if someone intercepts the data that is being flown over the network? What if someone plays with the data that is being transmitted over the network? What if someone opens SQL Server database that is storing passwords? Cryptography provides solution to such questions. Using .NET Cryptographic classes you can encrypt the data that is being flown in your system or network and then decrypt when you want authenticated user to modify or read it. In short Cryptography provides following features:

  • Protect data being transferred from reading by third parties
  • Protect data being transferred from any modification
  • Make sure that data is arriving from the intended location

Types of Cryptographic classes

The overall Cryptographic classes available in .NET framework can be classified in four categories:

  • Classes that deal with secret key encryption (also called as Symmetric Cryptography)
  • Classes that deal with public key encryption (also called Asymmetric Cryptography)
  • Classes that deal with digital signatures (also called cryptographic signatures)
  • Classes that deal with cryptographic hashes

All the cryptography related classes can be found in System.Security.Cryptography namespace.

Secret Key Encryption

In Secret Key Cryptography the data being protected is encrypted using a single secret key. This key is known only to sender and receiver. The sender encrypts the data using the secret key. The receiver decrypts the data using the same secret key. It is very important to keep the key secret otherwise anybody having the key can decrypt the data.

.NET Framework provides following classes to work with Secret Key Cryptography:

  • DESCryptoServiceProvider
  • RC2CryptoServiceProvider
  • RijndaelManaged
  • TripleDESCryptoServiceProvider

Public Key Encryption

Unlike secret key encryption, public key encryption uses two keys. One is called public key and the other is called as private key. The public key is not kept secret at all where as private key is kept confidential by the owner of that key. The data encrypted by private key can be decrypted only using its corresponding public key and data encrypted using public key can be decrypted using its private key. Naturally, in order to encrypt the data being transmitted you need to use public key. This data can be decrypted only with the corresponding private key.

.NET Framework provides following classes to work with public key encryption:

  • DSACryptoServiceProvider
  • RSACryptoServiceProvider

Digital Signatures

Digital signatures are used to verify identity of the sender and ensure data integrity. They are often used along with public key encryption. Digital signature work as follows:

  1. Sender applies hash algorithm to the data being sent and creates a message digest. Message digest is compact representation of the data being sent.
  2. Sender then encrypts the message digest with the private key to get a digital signature
  3. Sender sends the data over a secure channel
  4. Receiver receives the data and decrypts the digital signature using public key and retrieves the message digest
  5. Receiver applies the same hash algorithm as the sender to the data and creates a new message digest
  6. If sender’s digest and receiver’s digest match then it means that the message really came from the said sender.

The classes DSACryptoServiceProvider and RSACryptoServiceProvider are used to create digital signatures.

Hashes

Hash algorithms create a fixed length output for a given variable length data. If somebody changes the original data even slightly then the hash generated will be different than original hash. They are often used with digital signatures.

Some of the classes in .NET that deal with hashes are:

  • SHA1Managed
  • MD5CryptoServiceProvider
  • MACTripleDES

Random Number Generators

While working with cryptography classes many times you need to generate cryptographic keys. Random number generators are used for this purpose. .NET provides a class called RNGCryptoServiceProvider to generate such random numbers.

Below you will find additional details and code samples for different cryptography techniques.

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Asp.Net Page Life Cycle

When an ASP.NET page runs, the page goes through a life cycle in which it performs a series of processing steps. These include initialization, instantiating controls, restoring and maintaining state, running event handler code and rendering. The Life cycle of an ASP.NET page depends on whether the page is requested for the first time or it is a postback. Postback is a process by which a page can request for itself.

General Page Life-cycle Stages

In general terms, the page goes through the stages outlined in the following table. In addition to the page life-cycle stages, there are application stages that occur before and after a request but are not specific to a page.

Stage
Description
Page request

The page request occurs before the page life cycle begins. When the page is requested by a user, ASP.NET determines whether the page needs to be parsed and compiled or whether a cached version of the page can be sent in response without running the page.

Start

In the start step, page properties such as Request and Response are set. At this stage, the page also determines whether the request is a Postback or a new request and sets the IsPostBack property. Additionally, during the start step, the page’s UICulture property is set.

Page initialization

During page initialization, controls on the page are available and each control’s UniqueID property is set. Any themes are also applied to the page. If the current request is a Postback, the postback data has not yet been loaded and control property values have not been restored to the values from view state.

Load

During load, if the current request is a Postback, control properties are loaded with information recovered from view state and control state.

Validation

During validation, the Validate method of all validator controls is called, which sets the IsValid property of individual validator controls and of the page.

Postback event handling

If the request is a postback, any event handlers are called.

Rendering

Before rendering, view state is saved for the page and all controls. During the rendering phase, the page calls the Render method for each control, providing a text writer that writes its output to the OutputStream of the page’s Response property.

Unload

Unload is called after the page has been fully rendered, sent to the client, and is ready to be discarded. At this point, page properties such as Response and Request are unloaded and any cleanup is performed.

Life-cycle Events

Within each stage of the life cycle of a page, the page raises events that you can handle to run your own code. For control events, you bind the event handler to the event, either declarative using attributes such as onClick, or in code.

Pages also support automatic event wire-up, meaning that ASP.NET looks for methods with particular names and automatically runs those methods when certain events are raised. If the AutoEventWireup attribute of the @Page directive is set to true (or if it is not defined, since by default it is true), page events are automatically bound to methods that use the naming convention of Page_event, such as Page_Load and Page_Init.

The following table lists the page life-cycle events that you will use most frequently. There are more events than those listed; however, they are not used for most page processing scenarios. Instead, they are primarily used by server controls on the ASP.NET Web page to initialize and render themselves.

Common Life-cycle Events

Page Event
Typical Use
PreInit Use this event for the following: 

  1. Check the IsPostBack property to determine whether this is the first time the page is being processed.
  2. Create or re-create dynamic controls.
  3. Set a master page dynamically.
  4. Set the Theme property dynamically.
  5. Read or set profile property values.

Note: If the request is a postback, the values of the controls have not yet been restored from view state. If you set a control property at this stage, its value might be overwritten in the next event.

Init

Raised after all controls have been initialized and any skin settings have been applied. Use this event to read or initialize control properties.

InitComplete

Raised by the Page object. Use this event for processing tasks that require all initialization be complete.

PreLoad

Use this event if you need to perform processing on your page or control before the Load event. After the Page raises this event, it loads view state for itself and all controls, and then processes any postback data included with the Request instance.

Load

The Page calls the OnLoad event method on the Page, then recursively does the same for each child control, which does the same for each of its child controls until the page and all controls are loaded.

Control events

Use these events to handle specific control events, such as a Button control’s Click event or a TextBox control’s TextChanged event. In a postback request, if the page contains validator controls, check the IsValid property of the Page and of individual validation controls before performing any processing.

LoadComplete

Use this event for tasks that require that all other controls on the page be loaded.

PreRender Before this event occurs: 

  1. The Page object calls EnsureChildControls for each control and for the page.
  2. Each data bound control whose DataSourceID property is set calls its DataBind method.
  3. The PreRender event occurs for each control on the page. Use the event to make final changes to the contents of the page or its controls.
SaveStateComplete

Before this event occurs, ViewState has been saved for the page and for all controls. Any changes to the page or controls at this point will be ignored. Use this event perform tasks that require view state to be saved, but that do not make any changes to controls.

Render

This is not an event; instead, at this stage of processing, the Page object calls this method on each control. All ASP.NET Web server controls have a Render method that writes out the control’s markup that is sent to the browser. If you create a custom control, you typically override this method to output the control’s markup. However, if your custom control incorporates only standard ASP.NET Web server controls and no custom markup, you do not need to override the Render method. A user control (an .ascx file) automatically incorporates rendering, so you do not need to explicitly render the control in code.

Unload

This event occurs for each control and then for the page. In controls, use this event to do final cleanup for specific controls, such as closing control-specific database connections. For the page itself, use this event to do final cleanup work, such as closing open files and database connections, or finishing up logging or other request-specific tasks.

Note: During the unload stage, the page and its controls have been rendered, so you cannot make further changes to the response stream. If you attempt to call a method such as the Response.Write method, the page will throw an exception.

The events associated with the relevant page cycle phases are:

  1. Page Initialization: Page_Init
  2. View State Loading: LoadViewState
  3. Postback data processing: LoadPostData
  4. Page Loading: Page_Load
  5. PostBack Change Notification: RaisePostDataChangedEvent
  6. PostBack Event Handling: RaisePostBackEvent
  7. Page Pre Rendering Phase: Page_PreRender
  8. View State Saving: SaveViewState
  9. Page Rendering: Page_Render
  10. Page Unloading: Page_UnLoad

using Statement

The C# ECMA specification states that a using statement:

is exactly equivalent to:

This relies on the IDisposable interface from the System namespace:

Note that the cast inside the finally block implies that variable must be of a type that supports the IDisposable interface (either via inheritance or conversion operator). If it doesn’t you’ll get a compile time error.

Using on classes without IDisposable

It’s instructive to consider what would happen if class didn’t implement the IDisposable interface and you must implement Disposability in our own classes. One solution is the Object Adapter pattern. For example:

which you would use like this:

To make things a little easier you can create an implicit conversion operator:

which would allow you to write this: