Archive for November, 2010

Illegal Key Size

About a week ago, I wrote an article on how to encrypt with PHP and decrypt with Java. The funny thing is I got an error when I deployed the Java code into the live server! 😐

As a reminder, this is the code I am talking about:

SecretKeySpec skeySpec = new SecretKeySpec("SECRET KEY".getBytes(), "AES");
IvParameterSpec initalVector = new IvParameterSpec("iv_example".getBytes());
Cipher cipher = Cipher.getInstance("AES/CFB8/NoPadding");
cipher.init(Cipher.DECRYPT_MODE, skeySpec, initalVector);

This code was working perfectly fine on my local machine but here is the exception I got when I ran it on a Linux server: Illegal key size
        at javax.crypto.Cipher.a(DashoA12275)
        at javax.crypto.Cipher.a(DashoA12275)
        at javax.crypto.Cipher.a(DashoA12275)
        at javax.crypto.Cipher.init(DashoA12275)
        at javax.crypto.Cipher.init(DashoA12275)

Looking on internet for an explanation, I found the following answer on Charitha Kankanamge’s blog (which I slightly updated):

“ Illegal key size” error is a common issue which occurs when you try to invoke a secured web service in an environment where the provision for java unlimited security jurisdiction is not done.
This can be avoided by installing Java Cryptography Extension (JCE) unlimited strength jurisdiction policy files.
1. Go to
2. Go to the Additional Resources section and click on the download button next to “Java Cryptography Extension (JCE) Unlimited Strength Jurisdiction Policy Files X”
3. Download and extract it into a directory
4. You will find local_policy.jar and US_export_policy.jar files there in the extracted directory. Copy these two files to $JAVA_HOME/jre/lib/security directory (These files might already be there, replace them in this case)
5. Restart the web server and invoke your secured service again. You will not encounter the “invalidkeyException” any more

Please click on the link below to see the original article:

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Encrypt with PHP – Decrypt with Java

For security reason, I wanted to encrypt the data transferred between PHP web services and a Java application. But the problem was to encrypt the data with PHP in a way that it is possible to decrypt it using Java.

It obviously exists a lot of ways of doing this. But here is the way I choose:

  • Use a secret key and an initialisation vector for the encryption and decryption
  • Use the mcrypt PHP module for the encryption
  • Use the javax.crypto Java package for the decryption

Please find below the PHP code for the encryption:

function encrypt($message, $initialVector, $secretKey) {
    return base64_encode(

And please see below the Java code for the decryption:

public static String md5(String input) throws NoSuchAlgorithmException {
    MessageDigest md = MessageDigest.getInstance("MD5");
    byte[] messageDigest = md.digest(input.getBytes());
    BigInteger number = new BigInteger(1, messageDigest);
    return number.toString(16);

public String decrypt(String encryptedData, String initialVectorString, String secretKey) {
    String decryptedData = null;
    try {
        SecretKeySpec skeySpec = new SecretKeySpec(md5(secretKey).getBytes(), "AES");
        IvParameterSpec initialVector = new IvParameterSpec(initialVectorString.getBytes());
        Cipher cipher = Cipher.getInstance("AES/CFB8/NoPadding");
        cipher.init(Cipher.DECRYPT_MODE, skeySpec, initialVector);
        byte[] encryptedByteArray = (new org.apache.commons.codec.binary.Base64()).decode(encryptedData.getBytes());
        byte[] decryptedByteArray = cipher.doFinal(encryptedByteArray);
        decryptedData = new String(decryptedByteArray, "UTF8");
    } catch (Exception e) {
        LOGGER.debug("Problem decrypting the data", e);
    return decryptedData;

EDIT: The line number.toString(16) of the md5 method needs to be replaced by String.format("%032x", number). See this article for more details.

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