SubtleCrypto.importKey()

The importKey() method of the SubtleCrypto interface imports a key: that is, it takes as input a key in an external, portable format and gives you a CryptoKey object that you can use in the Web Crypto API.

The function accepts several import formats: see Supported formats for details.

Syntax

const result = crypto.subtle.importKey(
    format,
    keyData,
    algorithm,
    extractable,
    usages
);

Parameters

Return value

  • result is a Promise that fulfills with the imported key as a CryptoKey object.

Exceptions

The promise is rejected when one of the following exceptions is encountered:

SyntaxError
Raised when keyUsages is empty but the unwrapped key is of type secret or private.
TypeError
Raised when trying to use an invalid format or if the keyData is not suited for that format.

Supported formats

This API supports four different key import/export formats: Raw, PKCS #8, SubjectPublicKeyInfo, and JSON Web Key.

Raw

You can use this format to import or export AES or HMAC secret keys, or Elliptic Curve public keys.

In this format the key is supplied as an ArrayBuffer containing the raw bytes for the key.

PKCS #8

You can use this format to import or export RSA or Elliptic Curve private keys.

The PKCS #8 format is defined in RFC 5208., using the ASN.1 notation:

PrivateKeyInfo ::= SEQUENCE {
    version                   Version,
    privateKeyAlgorithm       PrivateKeyAlgorithmIdentifier,
    privateKey                PrivateKey,
    attributes           [0]  IMPLICIT Attributes OPTIONAL }

The importKey() method expects to receive this object as an ArrayBuffer containing the DER-encoded form of the PrivateKeyInfo. DER is a set of rules for encoding ASN.1 structures into a binary form.

You are most likely to encounter this object in PEM format. PEM format is a way to encode binary data in ASCII. It consists of a header and a footer, and in between, the base64-encoded binary data. A PEM-encoded PrivateKeyInfo looks like this:

-----BEGIN PRIVATE KEY-----
MIG2AgEAMBAGByqGSM49AgEGBSuBBAAiBIGeMIGbAgEBBDAU9BD0jxDfF5OV380z
9VIEUN2W5kJDZ3hbuaDenCxLiAMsoquKTfFaou71eLdN0TShZANiAARMUhCee/cp
xmjGc1roj0D0k6VlUqtA+JVCWigXcIAukOeTHCngZDKCrD4PkXDBvbciJdZKvO+l
ml2FIkoovZh/8yeTKmjUMb804g6OmjUc9vVojCRV0YdaSmYkkJMJbLg=
-----END PRIVATE KEY-----

To get this into a format you can give to importKey() you need to do two things:

  • base64-decode the part between header and footer, using window.atob().
  • convert the resulting string into an ArrayBuffer.

See the Examples section for more concrete guidance.

SubjectPublicKeyInfo

You can use this format to import or export RSA or Elliptic Curve public keys.

SubjectPublicKey is defined in RFC 5280, Section 4.1 using the ASN.1 notation:

SubjectPublicKeyInfo  ::=  SEQUENCE  {
    algorithm            AlgorithmIdentifier,
    subjectPublicKey     BIT STRING  }

Just like PKCS #8, the importKey() method expects to receive this object as an ArrayBuffer containing the DER-encoded form of the SubjectPublicKeyInfo.

Again, you are most likely to encounter this object in PEM format. A PEM-encoded SubjectPublicKeyInfo looks like this:

-----BEGIN PUBLIC KEY-----
MIIBIjANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQEFAAOCAQ8AMIIBCgKCAQEA3j+HgSHUnc7F6XzvEbD0
r3M5JNy+/kabiJVu8IU1ERAl3Osi38VgiMzjDBDOrFxVzNNzl+SXAHwXIV5BHiXL
CQ6qhwYsDgH6OqgKIwiALra/wNH4UHxj1Or/iyAkjHRR/kGhUtjyVCjzvaQaDpJW
2G+syd1ui0B6kJov2CRUWiPwpff8hBfVWv8q9Yc2yD5hCnykVL0iAiyn+SDAk/rv
8dC5eIlzCI4efUCbyG4c9O88Qz7bS14DxSfaPTy8P/TWoihVVjLaDF743LgM/JLq
CDPUBUA3HLsZUhKm3BbSkd7Q9Ngkjv3+yByo4/fL+fkYRa8j9Ypa2N0Iw53LFb3B
gQIDAQAB
-----END PUBLIC KEY-----

Just as with PKCS #8, to get this into a format you can give to importKey() you need to do two things:

  • base64-decode the part between header and footer, using window.atob().
  • convert the resulting string into an ArrayBuffer.

See the Examples section for more concrete guidance.

JSON Web Key

You can use JSON Web Key format to import or export RSA or Elliptic Curve public or private keys, as well as AES and HMAC secret keys.

JSON Web Key format is defined in RFC 7517. It describes a way to represent public, private, and secret keys as JSON objects.

A JSON Web Key looks something like this (this is an EC private key):

{
  "crv": "P-384",
  "d": "wouCtU7Nw4E8_7n5C1-xBjB4xqSb_liZhYMsy8MGgxUny6Q8NCoH9xSiviwLFfK_",
  "ext": true,
  "key_ops": ["sign"],
  "kty": "EC",
  "x": "SzrRXmyI8VWFJg1dPUNbFcc9jZvjZEfH7ulKI1UkXAltd7RGWrcfFxqyGPcwu6AQ",
  "y": "hHUag3OvDzEr0uUQND4PXHQTXP5IDGdYhJhL-WLKjnGjQAw0rNGy5V29-aV-yseW"
};

Examples

Note: You can try the working examples on GitHub.

Raw import

This example imports an AES key from an ArrayBuffer containing the bytes to use. See the complete code on GitHub.

const rawKey = window.crypto.getRandomValues(new Uint8Array(16));

/*
Import an AES secret key from an ArrayBuffer containing the raw bytes.
Takes an ArrayBuffer string containing the bytes, and returns a Promise
that will resolve to a CryptoKey representing the secret key.
*/
function importSecretKey(rawKey) {
  return window.crypto.subtle.importKey(
    "raw",
    rawKey,
    "AES-GCM",
    true,
    ["encrypt", "decrypt"]
  );
}

PKCS #8 import

This example imports an RSA private signing key from a PEM-encoded PKCS #8 object. See the complete code on GitHub.

/*
Convert a string into an ArrayBuffer
from https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2012/06/How-to-convert-ArrayBuffer-to-and-from-String
*/
function str2ab(str) {
  const buf = new ArrayBuffer(str.length);
  const bufView = new Uint8Array(buf);
  for (let i = 0, strLen = str.length; i < strLen; i++) {
    bufView[i] = str.charCodeAt(i);
  }
  return buf;
}

const pemEncodedKey = `-----BEGIN PRIVATE KEY-----
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
-----END PRIVATE KEY-----`;

/*
Import a PEM encoded RSA private key, to use for RSA-PSS signing.
Takes a string containing the PEM encoded key, and returns a Promise
that will resolve to a CryptoKey representing the private key.
*/
function importPrivateKey(pem) {
  // fetch the part of the PEM string between header and footer
  const pemHeader = "-----BEGIN PRIVATE KEY-----";
  const pemFooter = "-----END PRIVATE KEY-----";
  const pemContents = pem.substring(pemHeader.length, pem.length - pemFooter.length);
  // base64 decode the string to get the binary data
  const binaryDerString = window.atob(pemContents);
  // convert from a binary string to an ArrayBuffer
  const binaryDer = str2ab(binaryDerString);

  return window.crypto.subtle.importKey(
    "pkcs8",
    binaryDer,
    {
      name: "RSA-PSS",
      // Consider using a 4096-bit key for systems that require long-term security
      modulusLength: 2048,
      publicExponent: new Uint8Array([1, 0, 1]),
      hash: "SHA-256",
    },
    true,
    ["sign"]
  );
}

SubjectPublicKeyInfo import

This example imports an RSA public encryption key from a PEM-encoded SubjectPublicKeyInfo object. See the complete code on GitHub.

  // from https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2012/06/How-to-convert-ArrayBuffer-to-and-from-String
  function str2ab(str) {
    const buf = new ArrayBuffer(str.length);
    const bufView = new Uint8Array(buf);
    for (let i = 0, strLen = str.length; i < strLen; i++) {
      bufView[i] = str.charCodeAt(i);
    }
    return buf;
  }

  const pemEncodedKey = `-----BEGIN PUBLIC KEY-----
MIIBIjANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQEFAAOCAQ8AMIIBCgKCAQEAy3Xo3U13dc+xojwQYWoJLCbOQ5fOVY8LlnqcJm1W1BFtxIhOAJWohiHuIRMctv7dzx47TLlmARSKvTRjd0dF92jx/xY20Lz+DXp8YL5yUWAFgA3XkO3LSJgEOex10NB8jfkmgSb7QIudTVvbbUDfd5fwIBmCtaCwWx7NyeWWDb7A9cFxj7EjRdrDaK3ux/ToMLHFXVLqSL341TkCf4ZQoz96RFPUGPPLOfvN0x66CM1PQCkdhzjE6U5XGE964ZkkYUPPsy6Dcie4obhW4vDjgUmLzv0z7UD010RLIneUgDE2FqBfY/C+uWigNPBPkkQ+Bv/UigS6dHqTCVeD5wgyBQIDAQAB
-----END PUBLIC KEY-----`;

  function importRsaKey(pem) {
    // fetch the part of the PEM string between header and footer
    const pemHeader = "-----BEGIN PUBLIC KEY-----";
    const pemFooter = "-----END PUBLIC KEY-----";
    const pemContents = pem.substring(pemHeader.length, pem.length - pemFooter.length);
    // base64 decode the string to get the binary data
    const binaryDerString = window.atob(pemContents);
    // convert from a binary string to an ArrayBuffer
    const binaryDer = str2ab(binaryDerString);

    return window.crypto.subtle.importKey(
      "spki",
      binaryDer,
      {
        name: "RSA-OAEP",
        hash: "SHA-256"
      },
      true,
      ["encrypt"]
    );
  }

JSON Web Key import

This code imports an ECDSA private signing key, given a JSON Web Key object that represents it. See the complete code on GitHub.

const jwkEcKey = {
  "crv": "P-384",
  "d": "wouCtU7Nw4E8_7n5C1-xBjB4xqSb_liZhYMsy8MGgxUny6Q8NCoH9xSiviwLFfK_",
  "ext": true,
  "key_ops": ["sign"],
  "kty": "EC",
  "x": "SzrRXmyI8VWFJg1dPUNbFcc9jZvjZEfH7ulKI1UkXAltd7RGWrcfFxqyGPcwu6AQ",
  "y": "hHUag3OvDzEr0uUQND4PXHQTXP5IDGdYhJhL-WLKjnGjQAw0rNGy5V29-aV-yseW"
};

/*
Import a PEM encoded RSA private key, to use for RSA-PSS signing.
Takes a string containing the PEM encoded key, and returns a Promise
that will resolve to a CryptoKey representing the private key.
*/
function importPrivateKey(jwk) {
  return window.crypto.subtle.importKey(
    "jwk",
    jwk,
    {
      name: "ECDSA",
      namedCurve: "P-384"
    },
    true,
    ["sign"]
  );
}

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
Web Cryptography API
The definition of 'SubtleCrypto.importKey()' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition.

Browser compatibility

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidEdge MobileFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidSafari on iOSSamsung Internet
importKeyChrome Full support 37Edge Partial support 12
Notes
Partial support 12
Notes
Notes Not supported: RSA-PSS, ECDSA, ECDH.
Notes Not supported: AES-CTR, HKDF, PBKDF2.
Firefox Full support 34
Full support 34
No support 32 — 34
Disabled
Disabled From version 32 until version 34 (exclusive): this feature is behind the dom.webcrypto.enabled preference (needs to be set to true). To change preferences in Firefox, visit about:config.
IE Partial support 11
Notes
Partial support 11
Notes
Notes Returns KeyOperation instead of Promise
Opera Full support 24Safari Full support 7WebView Android Full support 37Chrome Android Full support 37Edge Mobile Full support 12Firefox Android Full support 34
Full support 34
No support 32 — 34
Disabled
Disabled From version 32 until version 34 (exclusive): this feature is behind the dom.webcrypto.enabled preference (needs to be set to true). To change preferences in Firefox, visit about:config.
Opera Android Full support 24Safari iOS Full support 7Samsung Internet Android Full support 6.0

Legend

Full support  
Full support
Partial support  
Partial support
See implementation notes.
See implementation notes.
User must explicitly enable this feature.
User must explicitly enable this feature.

See also

Document Tags and Contributors

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