Request Cryptography

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Request Cryptography

JWK+JWE with AES Encryption for Request Encrypt/decrypt

npm version

High level overview

There are 3 parts involved for JWK encryption:
  • Mediator (Browser)
  • Sender (Kibana server)
  • Receiver (Telemetry service)

  1. Mediator Requests Sender for encrypted metrics
  2. Sender gathers metrics and encrypts them following these steps:
1. Sender encrypts data with a randomly generated 32-bytes AES passphrase.
2. Sender encrypts payload with a strong AES 256 bit key that is derived from the passphrase.
3. Sender uses public RSA key that is shipped with Kibana to encrypt the AES key.
4. Sender sends the Mediator the AES encrypted payload and the JWK encrypted AES key.
  1. Mediator sends the encrypted payload and encrypted AES key to Receiver.
  2. Receiver gets the needed data from mediators
1. Receiver decrypts AES key using the private key that corresponds to the public key used for encryption.
2. Receiver decrypts payload with decrypted AES key.
3. Receiver processes payload.


JWK are a way to pass public/private keys (RSA) in JSON format.
With RSA, the data to be encrypted is first mapped on to an integer. For RSA to work, this integer must be smaller than the RSA modulus used. In other words, public key cannot be used to encrypt large payloads.
The way to solve this is to encrypt the payload with a strong AES key, then encrypt the AES key with the public key, and send that key along with the request.
RSA is almost never used for data encryption. The approach we've taken here is the common one (TLS, PGP etc do the same in principle) where a symmetric key is used for data encryption and that key is then encrypted with RSA. Size is one constraint, the other is performance as RSA is painfully slow compared to a symmetric key cipher such as AES.

Where to put the Key?

  • RSA Public Keys are distributed with the kibana distribution as a JWK.
  • RSA Private Keys are kept private and must never be shared.
  • The AES Passphrase will be generated on the sender's side uniquely on each request.


Request crypto has two main servicers Encryptor and Decryptor. Encryptor is used by the sending side. while Decryptor is used by the recieving side.

Sender Side (ie Kibana)

import { createRequestEncryptor } from '@elastic/request-crypto';
import * as fs from 'fs';

function TelemetryEndpointRoute(req, res) {
  const metrics = await getCollectors();
  const publicEncryptionKey = await fs.readAsync('...', 'utf8');
  const requestEncryptor = await createRequestEncryptor(publicEncryptionKey);
  const version = getKibanaVersion();
  try {
    const encryptedPayload = await requestEncryptor.encrypt(`kibana_${version}`, metrics);
  } catch(err) {
    res.status(500).end(`Error: ${err}`);

Mediator (ie browser)

async function getTelemetryMetrics() {
  return fetch(server.telemetryEndpoint);

async function sendTelemetryMetrics() {
  const metrics = await getTelemetryMetrics();
  return fetch('https://telemetry.elastic.co/v2/xpack', {
    method: 'POST', 
    body: metrics

Recieving side (ie Telemetry Service)

import { createRequestDecryptor } from '@elastic/request-crypto';
import privateJWKS from './privateJWKS';

async function handler (event, context, callback) {
  const requestDecryptor = await createRequestDecryptor(privateJWKS);
  const decryptedPayload = await requestDecryptor.decryptPayload(event.body);

  // ... handle payload


Json Web Key Sets are to store multiple JWK.

Why Key rotation?

Having keys per use case will reduce the surface of damage in case a key compromise happens.

Create a new keyset

import { createJWKManager } from '@elastic/request-crypto';
const jwksManager = await createJWKManager();
await jwksManager.addKey(`<kid>`);

Use existing keyset

import { createJWKManager } from '@elastic/request-crypto';
const existingJWKS = `<fetched from fs>`
const jwksManager = await createJWKManager(existingJWKS);

// get public key components
// get full Key pairs Inlcuding private components

Getting JWK metadata from request

The method getJWKMetadata returns the metadata of the JWK used to encrypt the request body.
The metadata is an object including the following:
  • key: JWK details (kid, length, kty, use, alg)
  • protected an array of the member names from the "protected" member.
  • header: an object of "protected" member key values.

import { createRequestDecryptor } from '@elastic/request-crypto';
import privateJWKS from './privateJWKS';

async function handler (event, context, callback) {
  const requestDecryptor = await createRequestDecryptor(privateJWKS);
  const jwkMetadata = await requestDecryptor.getJWKMetadata(event.body);

  // ... use metadata

If the key is not in the provided JWKS the function will throw an error Error: no key found.

RFCs followed for implementation details

  • JWK RFC: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7517
  • JWKS RFC: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7517#appendix-A
  • PKCS RFC: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3447