Generate ECDSA key with OpenSSL

After the last NSA scandal I’ve found some time to read some texts about PFS and ECDSA keys lately. I always used RSA keys but wanted to give a try to ECDSA so I wanted to give it a try (test performance, etc). Here is how I’ve done it.

Firstly find your favorite curve. A short tip about bit length and complexity could be found here. From it you will now that using 256 bit ECDSA key should be enough for next 10-20 years.

$ openssl ecparam -list_curves
  secp112r1 : SECG/WTLS curve over a 112 bit prime field
  secp112r2 : SECG curve over a 112 bit prime field
  secp128r1 : SECG curve over a 128 bit prime field
  secp128r2 : SECG curve over a 128 bit prime field
  secp160k1 : SECG curve over a 160 bit prime field
  secp160r1 : SECG curve over a 160 bit prime field
  secp160r2 : SECG/WTLS curve over a 160 bit prime field
  secp192k1 : SECG curve over a 192 bit prime field
  secp224k1 : SECG curve over a 224 bit prime field
  secp224r1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 224 bit prime field
  secp256k1 : SECG curve over a 256 bit prime field
  secp384r1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 384 bit prime field
  secp521r1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 521 bit prime field
  prime192v1: NIST/X9.62/SECG curve over a 192 bit prime field
  prime192v2: X9.62 curve over a 192 bit prime field
  prime192v3: X9.62 curve over a 192 bit prime field
  prime239v1: X9.62 curve over a 239 bit prime field
  prime239v2: X9.62 curve over a 239 bit prime field
  prime239v3: X9.62 curve over a 239 bit prime field
  prime256v1: X9.62/SECG curve over a 256 bit prime field
  sect113r1 : SECG curve over a 113 bit binary field
  sect113r2 : SECG curve over a 113 bit binary field
  sect131r1 : SECG/WTLS curve over a 131 bit binary field
  sect131r2 : SECG curve over a 131 bit binary field
  sect163k1 : NIST/SECG/WTLS curve over a 163 bit binary field
  sect163r1 : SECG curve over a 163 bit binary field
  sect163r2 : NIST/SECG curve over a 163 bit binary field
  sect193r1 : SECG curve over a 193 bit binary field
  sect193r2 : SECG curve over a 193 bit binary field
  sect233k1 : NIST/SECG/WTLS curve over a 233 bit binary field
  sect233r1 : NIST/SECG/WTLS curve over a 233 bit binary field
  sect239k1 : SECG curve over a 239 bit binary field
  sect283k1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 283 bit binary field
  sect283r1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 283 bit binary field
  sect409k1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 409 bit binary field
  sect409r1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 409 bit binary field
  sect571k1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 571 bit binary field
  sect571r1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 571 bit binary field
  c2pnb163v1: X9.62 curve over a 163 bit binary field
  c2pnb163v2: X9.62 curve over a 163 bit binary field
  c2pnb163v3: X9.62 curve over a 163 bit binary field
  c2pnb176v1: X9.62 curve over a 176 bit binary field
  c2tnb191v1: X9.62 curve over a 191 bit binary field
  c2tnb191v2: X9.62 curve over a 191 bit binary field
  c2tnb191v3: X9.62 curve over a 191 bit binary field
  c2pnb208w1: X9.62 curve over a 208 bit binary field
  c2tnb239v1: X9.62 curve over a 239 bit binary field
  c2tnb239v2: X9.62 curve over a 239 bit binary field
  c2tnb239v3: X9.62 curve over a 239 bit binary field
  c2pnb272w1: X9.62 curve over a 272 bit binary field
  c2pnb304w1: X9.62 curve over a 304 bit binary field
  c2tnb359v1: X9.62 curve over a 359 bit binary field
  c2pnb368w1: X9.62 curve over a 368 bit binary field
  c2tnb431r1: X9.62 curve over a 431 bit binary field
  wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls1: WTLS curve over a 113 bit binary field
  wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls3: NIST/SECG/WTLS curve over a 163 bit binary field
  wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls4: SECG curve over a 113 bit binary field
  wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls5: X9.62 curve over a 163 bit binary field
  wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls6: SECG/WTLS curve over a 112 bit prime field
  wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls7: SECG/WTLS curve over a 160 bit prime field
  wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls8: WTLS curve over a 112 bit prime field
  wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls9: WTLS curve over a 160 bit prime field
  wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls10: NIST/SECG/WTLS curve over a 233 bit binary field
  wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls11: NIST/SECG/WTLS curve over a 233 bit binary field
  wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls12: WTLS curvs over a 224 bit prime field
  Oakley-EC2N-3: 
	IPSec/IKE/Oakley curve #3 over a 155 bit binary field.
	Not suitable for ECDSA.
	Questionable extension field!
  Oakley-EC2N-4: 
	IPSec/IKE/Oakley curve #4 over a 185 bit binary field.
	Not suitable for ECDSA.
	Questionable extension field!

Now generate new private key with chosen curve (prime256v1 looks fine, like: c2pnb272w1, sect283k1, sect283r1 or secp256k1, etc)

$ openssl ecparam -out ec_key.pem -name prime256v1 -genkey

And generate self-signed certificate that could be directly used:

$ openssl req -new -key ec_key.pem -x509 -nodes -days 365 -out cert.pem
You are about to be asked to enter information that will be incorporated
into your certificate request.
What you are about to enter is what is called a Distinguished Name or a DN.
There are quite a few fields but you can leave some blank
For some fields there will be a default value,
If you enter '.', the field will be left blank.
-----
Country Name (2 letter code) [AU]:PL
State or Province Name (full name) [Some-State]:example.pl  
Locality Name (eg, city) []:example.pl
Organization Name (eg, company) [Internet Widgits Pty Ltd]:example.pl
Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:example.pl
Common Name (e.g. server FQDN or YOUR name) []:example.pl
Email Address []:hostmaster@example.pl

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