Encrypt/Decrypt a string on Linux using Openssl

In this blog post I am going to show you how you can use Openssl to encrypt and decrypt a string on the command line in Linux.


The prerequisite is that you have Openssl installed. Please read through this blog post on how to do this: https://www.howtoforge.com/tutorial/how-to-install-openssl-from-source-on-linux/

Encryption/Decryption commands

The encrpytion command for Openssl can be tested as follows:

echo "This is a sample string" | openssl enc -base64 -e -aes-256-cbc -salt -pass pass:SuperS3curePassw0rd! -pbkdf2

You will get a result similar to this: U2FsdGVkX197zphyvS6awkczRJrhl0i+uDbvAyde5TvCH7H+iavpguAx5BiY3Bx6

The encryption command for Openssl can be tested as follows:

echo U2FsdGVkX197zphyvS6awkczRJrhl0i+uDbvAyde5TvCH7H+iavpguAx5BiY3Bx6 | openssl enc -base64 -d -aes-256-cbc -salt -pass pass:SuperS3curePassw0rd! -pbkdf2

Run this command and you will get your decrypted string: This is a sample string

What you are doing here is to pipe a string to the Openssl command. Then you are defining:

  1. -base64: The output/input is a base64 string
  2. -e|-d: -e for encryption, -d for decryption
  3. -aes-256-cbc: The encryption/decryption algorhitm
  4. -salt: To add a salt to the encryption/decrpytion and make it more secure
  5. -pass: The password
  6. -pbkdf2: Method to derive a key from the password

Encryption/Decryption shell script on Linux using Openssl

You can download this script also from the Github repository:

git clone git@github.com:terencejackson8000/encrypt_decrypt.git

Or you can create your own shell script with the following content:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

#Get the parameteres of the script and assign them
while getopts m:s:p: flag
    case "${flag}" in
        m) mechanism=${OPTARG};;
        s) string=${OPTARG};;
        p) password=${OPTARG};;

#Check if all parameters are set, if not show an error message and exit the script
if [ -z "$mechanism" ] || [ -z "$string" ] || [ -z "$password" ]
    then echo "You need to set all variables to run the script: -m enc for encryption or dec for decryption, -s The string to encrypt/decrypt, -p The password for the encryption/decryption"
    exit 0

#if the mechanism is encryption => encrypt the string, if the mechanism is decryption => decrypt the string
if [ $mechanism == 'enc' ]
    echo $string | openssl enc -base64 -e -aes-256-cbc -salt -pass pass:$password -pbkdf2
elif [ $mechanism == 'dec' ]
    echo $string | openssl enc -base64 -d -aes-256-cbc -salt -pass pass:$password -pbkdf2
    echo "Mechanism (-m) must be enc for encryption or dec for decryption"

Next you have to make the script executable:
sudo chmod -x encrypt_decrypt.sh
And then you can run an ecryption:
./encrypt_decrypt.sh -m enc -s "This is a sample string" -p SuperS3curePassw0rd!
Or a decryption:
./encrypt_decrypt.sh -m dev -s "U2FsdGVkX1/mgl7Z+Y1cmNATJD/CnTHEFLlKhEwwUlpw8YYchYDoTAzMFGI20bIR" -p SuperS3curePassw0rd!