Importing key material in AWS KMS keys - AWS Key Management Service

Importing key material in AWS KMS keys

You can create a AWS KMS keys (KMS key) with key material that you supply.

A KMS key is a logical representation of an encryption key. It contains key material used to encrypt and decrypt data, in addition to its key identifiers and other metadata. When you create a KMS key, by default, AWS KMS generates the key material for that KMS key. But you can create a KMS key without key material and then import your own key material into that KMS key, a feature often known as "bring your own key" (BYOK).

Note

AWS KMS does not support decrypting any AWS KMS ciphertext outside of AWS KMS, even if the ciphertext was encrypted under a KMS key with imported key material. AWS KMS does not publish the ciphertext format this task requires, and the format might change without notice.

Imported key material is supported only for symmetric KMS keys in AWS KMS key stores. It is not supported on asymmetric KMS keys or KMS keys in custom key stores.

When you use imported key material, you remain responsible for the key material while allowing AWS KMS to use a copy of it. You might choose to do this for one or more of the following reasons:

  • To prove that you generated the key material using a source of entropy that meets your requirements.

  • To use key material from your own infrastructure with AWS services, and to use AWS KMS to manage the lifecycle of that key material within AWS.

  • To set an expiration time for the key material in AWS and to manually delete it, but to also make it available again in the future. In contrast, scheduling key deletion requires a waiting period of 7 to 30 days, after which you cannot recover the deleted KMS key.

  • To own the original copy of the key material, and to keep it outside of AWS for additional durability and disaster recovery during the complete lifecycle of the key material.

For information about important differences between KMS keys with imported key material and those with key material generated by AWS KMS, see About imported key material.

The key material you import must be a 256-bit symmetric encryption key.

About imported key material

Before you decide to import key material into AWS KMS, you should understand the following characteristics of imported key material.

You generate the key material

You are responsible for generating 256 bits of key material using a source of randomness that meets your security requirements.

Can't change the key material

When you import key material into a KMS key, the KMS key is permanently associated with that key material. You can reimport the same key material, but you cannot import different key material into that KMS key. Also, you cannot enable automatic key rotation for a KMS key with imported key material. However, you can manually rotate a KMS key with imported key material.

Can't decrypt with any other KMS key

When you encrypt data under a KMS key, the ciphertext cannot be decrypted with any other KMS key. This is true even when you import the same key material into a different KMS key. This is a security feature of KMS keys.

The only exception is multi-Region keys, which are designed to be interoperable. For details, see Why aren't all KMS keys with imported key material interoperable?.

No portability or escrow features

The ciphertexts that AWS KMS produces are not portable. AWS KMS does not support decrypting any AWS KMS ciphertext outside of AWS KMS, even if the ciphertext was encrypted under a KMS key with imported key material. AWS KMS does not publish the ciphertext format this task requires, and the format might change without notice.

Also, you cannot use any AWS tools, such as the AWS Encryption SDK or Amazon S3 client-side encryption, to decrypt AWS KMS ciphertexts.

As a result, you cannot use keys with imported key material to support key escrow arrangements where an authorized third party with conditional access to key material can decrypt certain ciphertexts outside of AWS KMS. To support key escrow, use the AWS Encryption SDK to encrypt your message under a key that is independent of AWS KMS.

You're responsible for availability and durability

You are responsible for the key material's overall availability and durability. AWS KMS is designed to keep imported key material highly available. But the service does not maintain the durability of imported key material at the same level as key material generated on your behalf. This difference is meaningful in the following cases:

  • When you set an expiration time for your imported key material, AWS KMS deletes the key material after it expires. AWS KMS does not delete the KMS key or its metadata. You cannot set an expiration time for key material generated by AWS KMS.

  • When you manually delete imported key material, AWS KMS deletes the key material but does not delete the KMS key or its metadata. In contrast, scheduling key deletion requires a waiting period of 7 to 30 days, after which AWS KMS deletes the key material and all of the KMS key metadata.

  • In the unlikely event of certain regionwide failures that affect the service (such as a total loss of power), AWS KMS cannot automatically restore your imported key material. However, AWS KMS can restore the KMS key and the metadata.

To restore the key material after events like these, you must retain a copy of the key material in a system that you control. Then, you can reimport it into the KMS key.

Permissions for importing key material

To create and manage KMS keys with imported key material, the user needs permission for the operations in this process. You can provide the kms:GetParametersForImport, kms:ImportKeyMaterial, and kms:DeleteImportedKeyMaterial permissions in the key policy when you create the KMS key. The kms:ImportKeyMaterial permission is not included in the default permissions for key administrators, so you need to add it manually.

To create KMS keys with imported key material, the principal needs the following permissions.

  • kms:CreateKey (IAM policy)

    • To limit this permission to KMS keys with imported key material, use the kms:KeyOrigin policy condition with a value of EXTERNAL.

      { "Version": "2012-10-17", "Statement": { "Sid": "IAM policy to create KMS keys with no key material" "Effect": "Allow", "Resource": "*", "Principal": { "AWS": "arn:aws:iam::111122223333:role/KMSAdminRole" }, "Action": "kms:CreateKey", "Condition": { "StringEquals": { "kms:KeyOrigin": "EXTERNAL" } } }
  • kms:GetParametersForImport (Key policy or IAM policy)

  • kms:ImportKeyMaterial (Key policy or IAM policy)

To reimport imported key material, the principal needs the kms:GetParametersForImport and kms:ImportKeyMaterial permissions.

To delete imported key material, the principal needs kms:DeleteImportedKeyMaterial permission.

How to import key material

The following overview explains how to import your key material into AWS KMS. For more details about each step in the process, see the corresponding topic.

  1. Create a symmetric KMS key with no key material – To get started with importing key material, first create a symmetric KMS key whose origin is EXTERNAL. This indicates that the key material was generated outside of AWS KMS and prevents AWS KMS from generating key material for the KMS key. In a later step you will import your own key material into this KMS key.

  2. Download the public key and import token – After completing step 1, download a public key and an import token. These items protect the import of your key material to AWS KMS.

  3. Encrypt the key material – Use the public key that you downloaded in step 2 to encrypt the key material that you created on your own system.

  4. Import the key material – Upload the encrypted key material that you created in step 3 and the import token that you downloaded in step 2.

AWS KMS records an entry in your AWS CloudTrail log when you create the KMS key, download the public key and import token, and import the key material. AWS KMS also records an entry when you delete imported key material or when AWS KMS deletes expired key material.

How to reimport key material

If you manage a KMS key with imported key material, you might need to reimport the key material, either because the key material expired, or because the key material was accidentally deleted or lost.

You must reimport the same key material that was originally imported into the KMS key. You cannot import different key material into a KMS key. Also, AWS KMS cannot create key material for a KMS key that is created without key material.

To reimport key material, use the same procedure that you used to import the key material the first time, with the following exceptions.

  • Use an existing KMS key, instead of creating a new KMS key. You can skip Step 1 of the import procedure.

  • If the KMS key contains key material, you must delete the existing key material before you reimport the key material.

Each time you import key material to a KMS key, you need to download and use a new wrapping key and import token for the KMS key. The wrapping procedure does not affect the content of the key material, so you can use different wrapping keys (and different import tokens) to import the same key material.

How to view KMS keys with imported key material

When you create a KMS key with no key material, the value of the Origin property of the KMS key is EXTERNAL, and it cannot be changed. You cannot convert a key that is designed to use imported key material to one that uses the key material that AWS KMS provides.

You can identify KMS keys that require imported key material in the AWS KMS console or by using the AWS KMS API. You can also view the properties of the key material, such as whether and when it expires by using the console or the APIs.

To identify KMS keys with imported key material (console)

  1. Open the AWS KMS console at https://console.aws.amazon.com/kms.

  2. To change the AWS Region, use the Region selector in the upper-right corner of the page.

  3. Use either of the following techniques to view the Origin property of your KMS keys.

    • To add an Origin column to your KMS key table, in the upper right corner, choose the Settings icon. Choose Origin and choose Confirm. The Origin column makes it easy to identify KMS keys with an EXTERNAL origin property value.

    • To find the value of the Origin property of a particular KMS key, choose the key ID or alias of the KMS key. Then choose the Cryptographic configuration tab. The tabs are below the General configuration section.

  4. To view detailed information about the key material, choose the Key material tab. This tab appears on the detail page only for KMS keys with imported key material.

To identify KMS keys with imported key material (AWS KMS API)

Use the DescribeKey operation. The response includes the Origin property of the KMS key, the expiration model, and the expiration date, as shown in the following example.

$ aws kms describe-key --key-id 1234abcd-12ab-34cd-56ef-1234567890ab { "KeyMetadata": { "KeyId": "1234abcd-12ab-34cd-56ef-1234567890ab", "Origin": "EXTERNAL", "ExpirationModel": "KEY_MATERIAL_EXPIRES" "ValidTo": 1568894400.0, "Arn": "arn:aws:kms:us-west-2:111122223333:key/1234abcd-12ab-34cd-56ef-1234567890ab", "AWSAccountId": "111122223333", "CreationDate": 1568289600.0, "Enabled": false, "MultiRegion": false, "Description": "", "KeyUsage": "ENCRYPT_DECRYPT", "KeyState": "PendingImport", "KeyManager": "CUSTOMER", "KeySpec": "SYMMETRIC_DEFAULT", "CustomerMasterKeySpec": "SYMMETRIC_DEFAULT", "EncryptionAlgorithms": [ "SYMMETRIC_DEFAULT" ] } }