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Jan 9, 2013

How to encrypt a custom configuration section in ASP.NET

Recently I wrote a piece of software that needed some configurable secrets — and they needed to be VERY secret. Consequently, I had to encrypt a custom configuration section. Unfortunately, I quickly ran into trouble and got an error message along the lines of:

Encrypting configuration section...
An error occurred creating the configuration section handler for myConfigSection: Could not load file or assembly 'MyAssembly, Version=2.0.0.0, Culture=neutral' or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified.
...
Failed!

Disheartening, eh? I looked to the Internet and the advice seemed to be to copy the "missing" assembly to the .NET framework folder. I strongly suggest you don't do that, messing around in the framework's folder is not recommended. That folder belongs to Microsoft.

Fortunately I found a much easier workaround. I'll give an example where I encrypt the configuration section for the NWebsec security library, in the DemoSiteWebForms project that's part of the project's solution.

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