Mike Jelen
Mike Jelen

5 Steps to Configure Key Pair Authentication in Snowflake


Key pair authentication is a secure way to access your Snowflake data warehouse without relying solely on traditional username and password authentication. In this step-by-step guide, we walk you through the process of setting up key pair authentication in Snowflake. Additionally, how to install OpenSSL, a crucial tool for generating the necessary key pair, is detailed. 

While this is not SSO for Snowflake; however, it does apply to View Security in Snowflake. In addition, this topic is part of a Snowflake Health Check.


Before we begin, ensure you have the following prerequisites in place:

  1. A Snowflake account with the ACCOUNTADMIN privilege.
  2. A computer running a supported operating system (Windows, macOS, or Linux).
  3. Basic knowledge of the command line interface.

Step 1: Install OpenSSL

OpenSSL is an open-source tool that allows you to generate cryptographic keys and certificates. You must use it to create the key pair for Snowflake.

If OpenSSL is not installed on your local computer or virtual machine, follow the items below. If OpenSSL is already installed, please skip to Step 1: Create Private Key:

  • For Windows:
    • Download the Windows installer from the OpenSSL website.
    • Run the installer and follow the installation instructions.
  • For macOS:
    • Open the Terminal on your Mac and copy the text from this Github in order to install OpenSSL.
    • Paste the text into your Terminal window and press the enter key in order to run its process. It will take several minutes and you will be prompted to enter your Mac password during the install process.
For Linux (Debian/Ubuntu):
  • Open your terminal and run the following command to install OpenSSL:
    • Copy code
      • sudo apt-get update
      • sudo apt-get install openssl
  • Follow the installation prompts.

Step 2: Create Private Key

With OpenSSL installed, a SSH key pair must be generated. The private key will be stored securely on your machine, while the public key will be uploaded to Snowflake.

Open a Terminal window and enter the below command. Depending on what your security and governance requirements are, you can generate either an encrypted or unencrypted key. When in doubt of security guidelines, in general, use an encrypted key.

For an encrypted key, use the following command:

					openssl genrsa 2048|openssl pkcs8 -topk8 -v2 des3 -inform PEM -out rsa_key.p8
As a result you will be prompted for a passphrase. Save it in a note or write it down somewhere; just make sure you don’t forget it! You’ll need it later! 

Step 3: Create Public Key

Enter the following command in your Terminal window:

					openssl rsa -in rsa_key.p8 -pubout -out rsa_key.pub

Step 4: Store Private and Public Keys Securely

Make sure you know where your keys are stored, because you will need the file path later. If you completed Preparation Steps and Steps 1 & 2 earlier the files will be stored in a similar path as the one below on your local machine. At this point you will find two files that were created in the above Steps: rsa_key.p8 and rsa_key.pub

  • Folder Path: /Users/<Your Mac Username>/code/build-from-src/openssl-1.1.1d/

The private key (rsa_key.p8) is stored and encrypted using the passphrase you specified in Step 1. Below contains the format of the files once opened with a text editor.

  • The .p8 extension signifies a simple text file containing public/private key. You can open it with any text editor (TextEdit, vim, Sublime Text) to see your key.
    • TextEdit is a built in utility on the Mac and is found under Launchpad. Type in TextEdit to search with in Launchpad.

wHLjfCYycUPennlX2bd8yX8xOxGSGfvB+99+PmSlex0FmY9ov1J8H1H9Y3lMWXbL ... 


-----BEGIN PUBLIC KEY----- MIIBIjANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQEFAAOCAQ8AMIIBCgKCAQEAy+Fw2qv4Roud3l6tjPH4 zxybHjmZ5rhtCz9jppCV8UTWvEXxa88IGRIHbJ/PwKW/mR8LXdfI7l/9vCMXX4mk ... 

-----END PUBLIC KEY-----

Step 5: Set your Public Key to your Snowflake User

You must be an ACCOUNTADMIN role to make edits to a user. You can view what role you have in the top right corner under your name. At this time, if you have the rights, change your role by entering the following command in your worksheet or by clicking on the user setting bar in the top right corner of your worksheet:

					use role accountadmin;

Then enter the following command in your worksheet to assign the public key (rsa_key.pub) you created in Step 1 to your Snowflake user. Make sure to copy your public key (rsa_key.pub) and not the one below.

					alter user <your_username> set rsa_public_key='MIIBIjANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQEFAAOCAQ8AMIIBCgKCAQEAy+Fw2qv4Roud3l6tjPH4 zxybHjmZ5rhtCz9jppCV8UTWvEXxa88IGRIHbJ/PwKW/mR8LXdfI7l/9vCMXX4mk';

Note: If you do not have or can not get admin rights with the above command, it’s likely you do not have the permissions you need. Please reach out to the Admin of your Snowflake account to request the access you need.

Test Key Pair Authentication

You’re all set! Now, test the key pair authentication by connecting to Snowflake using your Snowflake client. You should be able to log in without entering a password. Sign up for a FREE DataLakeHouse.io account and test your key pair Snowflake authentication now!

Congratulations! You have successfully set up key pair authentication in Snowflake, enhancing the security of your data warehouse.

In summary, key pair authentication provides an extra layer of security for accessing Snowflake, and by following these steps, you can implement it with ease. Enjoy the added security and peace of mind in your Snowflake data operations.

More to explorer

International Women's Day 2024

International Women’s Day 2024: Empowerment and Progress

As we commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8th each year, it’s a time to honor the resilience, accomplishments, and contributions of women worldwide. In 2024, this day holds particular significance as we take stock of the strides made, acknowledge persistent challenges, and recommit ourselves to the pursuit of gender equality.


Streamlining Your Bullhorn CRM: Mastering Duplicate Data Management

Discover the most effective strategies for eliminating duplicate records in your Bullhorn CRM. Duplicates can hinder your productivity, lead to data inaccuracies, and impact your relationships with clients and candidates. In this insightful session, we will guide you through best practices, cutting-edge tools, and proven techniques to ensure a clean and efficient CRM database.

Snowpark for Snowflake blog post

Snowpark Architecture

Dive into the fascinating world of Snowpark, a cutting-edge data platform that empowers data teams to seamlessly work with data, enabling faster analytics and insights. This meetup is designed for data enthusiasts, engineers, and professionals interested in exploring the architecture and functionalities of Snowpark by Snowflake.

Scroll to Top