Monday, June 19, 2017

not a valid EC private key file

If you are trying to download an SSH key pair from a bucket and getting an error trying to use the key pair (for example with Paramiko in a Lambda function as I explained in earlier blog posts) and you get this error:

"errorType": "SSHException",
"errorMessage": "not a valid EC private key file"

Check to see that your key file is not actually encrypted with server side encryption or a KMS key, in which case you will need to decrypt it before using it.
One way to check this would be to print out the contents of the file in the bucket:

f = open(localkeyfile, 'r')
print (

Then compare the contents to your actual key file and if they don't match, and the content looks like random characters, chances are it has been encrypted in the S3 bucket and needs to be decrypted prior to use.

Update: 6/26/2017

Very strange...

Python code was failing with the error above. I was pretty sure this code worked before. I was looking into the Python Boto3 library to see how it handled encryption and trying different options, but it appeared that the file should just be downloaded unencrypted. There is no download option to specify a server side encryption algorithm (not using a customer key).

After fiddling with it a while I removed the extra arguments and now the code is working again. Magic!