Asked  6 Months ago    Answers:  5   Viewed   32 times

Can anybody point me in the right direction to be able to encrypt a string, returning another string with the encrypted data? (I've been trying with AES256 encryption.) I want to write a method which takes two NSString instances, one being the message to encrypt and the other being a 'passcode' to encrypt it with - I suspect I'd have to generate the encryption key with the passcode, in a way that can be reversed if the passcode is supplied with the encrypted data. The method should then return an NSString created from the encrypted data.

I've tried the technique detailed in the first comment on this post, but I've had no luck so far. Apple's CryptoExercise certainly has something, but I can't make sense of it... I've seen lots of references to CCCrypt, but it's failed in every case I've used it.

I would also have to be able to decrypt an encrypted string, but I hope that's as simple as kCCEncrypt/kCCDecrypt.



Since you haven't posted any code, it's difficult to know exactly which problems you're encountering. However, the blog post you link to does seem to work pretty decently... aside from the extra comma in each call to CCCrypt() which caused compile errors.

A later comment on that post includes this adapted code, which works for me, and seems a bit more straightforward. If you include their code for the NSData category, you can write something like this: (Note: The printf() calls are only for demonstrating the state of the data at various points — in a real application, it wouldn't make sense to print such values.)

int main (int argc, const char * argv[]) {
    NSAutoreleasePool * pool = [[NSAutoreleasePool alloc] init];

    NSString *key = @"my password";
    NSString *secret = @"text to encrypt";

    NSData *plain = [secret dataUsingEncoding:NSUTF8StringEncoding];
    NSData *cipher = [plain AES256EncryptWithKey:key];
    printf("%sn", [[cipher description] UTF8String]);

    plain = [cipher AES256DecryptWithKey:key];
    printf("%sn", [[plain description] UTF8String]);
    printf("%sn", [[[NSString alloc] initWithData:plain encoding:NSUTF8StringEncoding] UTF8String]);

    [pool drain];
    return 0;

Given this code, and the fact that encrypted data will not always translate nicely into an NSString, it may be more convenient to write two methods that wrap the functionality you need, in forward and reverse...

- (NSData*) encryptString:(NSString*)plaintext withKey:(NSString*)key {
    return [[plaintext dataUsingEncoding:NSUTF8StringEncoding] AES256EncryptWithKey:key];

- (NSString*) decryptData:(NSData*)ciphertext withKey:(NSString*)key {
    return [[[NSString alloc] initWithData:[ciphertext AES256DecryptWithKey:key]
                                  encoding:NSUTF8StringEncoding] autorelease];

This definitely works on Snow Leopard, and @Boz reports that CommonCrypto is part of the Core OS on the iPhone. Both 10.4 and 10.5 have /usr/include/CommonCrypto, although 10.5 has a man page for CCCryptor.3cc and 10.4 doesn't, so YMMV.

EDIT: See this follow-up question on using Base64 encoding for representing encrypted data bytes as a string (if desired) using safe, lossless conversions.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 6 Months ago

A quick and "dirty" (removes everything between < and >) solution, works with iOS >= 3.2:

-(NSString *) stringByStrippingHTML {
  NSRange r;
  NSString *s = [[self copy] autorelease];
  while ((r = [s rangeOfString:@"<[^>]+>" options:NSRegularExpressionSearch]).location != NSNotFound)
    s = [s stringByReplacingCharactersInRange:r withString:@""];
  return s;

I have this declared as a category os NSString.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 6 Months ago

EDIT: The links below refer to an older implementation. The latest version is called RNCryptor.

Your code doesn't use iOS's built-in AES implementation. It has its own custom implementation. AESEncryptWithPassphrase: also incorrectly generates the key, throwing away most of the entropy in the passphrase.

On iOS, you should be using the CCCrypt*() functions for AES. You should also make sure that you understand what is happening in your encryption and decryption routines. It is very easy to write encryption code that looks correct (in that you cannot read the output by inspection), but is extremely insecure.

See Properly encrypting with AES with CommonCrypto for an explanation of the problems with the above implementation, and how to properly use AES on iOS. Note that iOS 5 now has CCKeyDerivationPBKDF available.

There is no requirement to Base-64 encode your string prior to encryption. Base-64 encoding is used in cases where you need to convert binary data into a form that can be easily sent over email or other places where control characters would be a problem. It converts 8-bit binary data in 7-bit ASCII data. That's not necessary or useful here.

EDIT: It is critical that you carefully read the explanation of how to use this code. It is dangerous to simply cut and paste security code and hope it works. That said, the full source to RNCryptManager is available as part of the Chapter 11 example code for iOS 5 Programming Pushing the Limits and may be helpful [EDIT: This is old code; I recommend RNCryptor now, linked at the top of the answer]. The book (which should be available next week despite what the site says) includes a much longer discussion of how to use this code, including how to improve performance and deal with very large datasets.

Sunday, August 1, 2021
answered 4 Months ago

You say that it “is definitely UTF-8”, but without a Content-Type header, you don't really know that. (And even if you did have a header saying that, it could still be wrong.)

My guess is that your data is usually ASCII, which always parses correctly as UTF-8, but you sometimes are trying to parse data that's actually encoded in ISO 8859-1 or Windows codepage 1252. Such data will generally be mostly ASCII, but with some bytes outside the 0–127 range ASCII defines. UTF-8 would expect such bytes to form a sequence of code units within a specified sequence of ranges, but in other encodings, any byte, regardless of value, is a complete character on its own. Trying to interpret non-ASCII non-UTF-8 data as UTF-8 will almost always get you either wrong results (wrong characters) or no results at all (cannot decode; decoder returns nil), because the data was never encoded in UTF-8 in the first place.

You should try UTF-8 first, and if it fails, use ISO 8859-1. If you're letting the user retrieve any web page, you should let them change the encoding you use to decode the data, in case they discover that it was actually 8859-9 or codepage-1252 or some other 8-bit encoding.

If you're downloading the data from a specific server, and especially if you have influence on what runs on that server, you should make it serve up an accurate Content-Type header and/or fix whatever bug is causing it to serve up text that isn't in UTF-8.

Monday, August 2, 2021
answered 4 Months ago

Aha! Thank heavens for subversion. Through comparison with a working version I found out that an offending 'UIRequiredDeviceCapabilities' in my info.plist was at fault. A little figure digging showed it had to be an Array or Dictionary, and not a string as was my case. Setting it thusly ...


.. solved the problem.

@Toastor, this happened during the deployment process, even before the app went down the wire to the device.

Friday, August 6, 2021
answered 4 Months ago
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