[dm-crypt] DM-Crypt resistance against Cold Boot Attacks

Yves-Alexis Perez corsac at debian.org
Thu May 19 11:14:56 CEST 2011

On jeu., 2011-05-19 at 10:52 +0200, Milan Broz wrote:
> On 05/19/2011 10:01 AM, Yves-Alexis Perez wrote:
> > On jeu., 2011-05-19 at 09:05 +0200, Milan Broz wrote:
> >> On 05/18/2011 11:53 PM, Yves-Alexis Perez wrote:
> >>> If you read the paper, you'll noticed there's nothing to change to
> >>> dm-crypt, as the cypher is registered in the Crypto-API, it can be used
> >>> directly.
> >>
> >> TBH dmcrypt keeps its own copy of key (because key it is still part
> >> of the device-mapper mapping table so it must be available for
> >> status commands).
> > 
> > In that case it'll be the “dummy” key.
> The logic now works that table line received from dmcrypt
> is directly usable - cryptsetup uses that e.g. for resize.
> Replacing the key with zeroes or something will break this.

I don't know enough dm-crypt arch, but aiui from the paper, everytime
you use the crypto-api to do stuff, it'll use the key in CPU debug
registers and not the dummy key. Do you mean cryptsetup resize doesn't
use the crypto-api (and will thus fail)?

> >> So there are some changes needed but basically technicaly unrelated
> >> to that patch.
> >> (This will hopefully change with new mapping table format soon.)
> > 
> > Needed for what?
> You mean new table format?

No, I meant the “changes needed” :)

> ... etc.
> >>
> >> Anyway, it must be accepted into kernel crypto layer first.
> > 
> > I'm not even sure it'll be submitted though.
> So it is just academic exercise for conferences?

No idea. Just to be clear, I'm in now way associated to that paper, I
just found it interesting after seeing the first mail in thread and
wanted to add my views about the suppossingly needed changes to
dm-crypt. But looking at their website and the papers I didn't see
anything about submitting the patch upstream. It might not be acceptable
to use the debug registers in mainline kernel though.

> > For the AES-NI one, if the hypervisor supports it (they tested on KVM)
> > yes (though the vm registers are stored in the host ram anyway).
> Yes, that was my point. (AES-NI works for guests but bare hw has
> of course limited hw resources.)

Note that I'm not sure it's a good idea to use encryption in a guest
anyway, at least not to protect from the host.


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