Encrypt Your External Device
I recently bought a new External Hardware with 2 TB space (Transcend StoreJet 25M3 Anti-Shock 2TB and I use it as a backup for my music, images, and all other documents.
I always wanted to encrypt my whole device so here is how I started my journey. First let’s check where our newly plugged in device can be found:
$ sudo fdisk -l Disk /dev/sda: 256.1 GB, 256060514304 bytes 255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 31130 cylinders, total 500118192 sectors Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes Disk identifier: 0x000a9645 Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System /dev/sda1 * 2048 206847 102400 7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT /dev/sda2 206848 295317503 147555328 7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT /dev/sda3 491730942 500117503 4193281 5 Extended /dev/sda4 295317504 491728895 98205696 83 Linux /dev/sda5 491730944 500117503 4193280 82 Linux swap / Solaris Partition table entries are not in disk order Disk /dev/sdb1: 2000.4 GB, 2000398934016 bytes 255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 243201 cylinders, total 3907029168 sectors Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes Disk identifier: 0xa437ef40 Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System /dev/sdb1 63 3907029167 1953514552+ 7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
Now we need to unmount the device:
$ sudo umount /dev/sdb1
To encrypt the device we will use a tool called cryptsetup. Once you’ve installed it, please run
cryptesetup --help, to see which cipher format are available for your machine:
$ cryptsetup --help Default compiled-in key and passphrase parameters: Maximum keyfile size: 8192kB, Maximum interactive passphrase length 512 (characters) Default PBKDF2 iteration time for LUKS: 1000 (ms) Default compiled-in device cipher parameters: loop-AES: aes, Key 256 bits plain: aes-cbc-essiv:sha256, Key: 256 bits, Password hashing: ripemd160 LUKS1: aes-xts-plain64, Key: 256 bits, LUKS header hashing: sha1, RNG: /dev/urandom
- cipher: is an algorithm doing the encryption or decryption
- PBKDF2: stands for Password-Based Key Derivation Function 2 and applies various pseudorandom functions, HMAC (Hash Message Authentication Code), and salt over the input password in order to create a derived key for an block cipher
- aes: stands for Advanced Encryption Standard and is a specification for the encryption of data.
- LUKS1: stands for Linux Unified Key Setup and is disk-encryption specification developed by Clemens Fruhwirth (a Vienna guy) in 2004. The good thing about LUKS is that it is platform-independent for use in various tools, supports multiple passwords, stores all information in the partition header (users can transport or migrate data seamlessly), and it’s free.
So LUKS1 uses aes under the hood for partition encryption, while aes uses PBKDF2 to cipher the key to encrypt your device.
In order to check the performance of the different encryption formats, you can use the
$ cryptsetup benchmark # Tests are approximate using memory only (no storage IO). PBKDF2-sha1 254015 iterations per second PBKDF2-sha256 216647 iterations per second PBKDF2-sha512 147603 iterations per second PBKDF2-ripemd160 308767 iterations per second PBKDF2-whirlpool 149454 iterations per second # Algorithm | Key | Encryption | Decryption aes-cbc 128b 177,8 MiB/s 185,4 MiB/s serpent-cbc 128b 91,7 MiB/s 229,0 MiB/s twofish-cbc 128b 197,8 MiB/s 247,8 MiB/s aes-cbc 256b 143,6 MiB/s 148,1 MiB/s serpent-cbc 256b 94,8 MiB/s 240,0 MiB/s twofish-cbc 256b 212,7 MiB/s 262,4 MiB/s aes-xts 256b 201,5 MiB/s 196,0 MiB/s serpent-xts 256b 214,8 MiB/s 214,0 MiB/s twofish-xts 256b 194,9 MiB/s 227,0 MiB/s aes-xts 512b 143,4 MiB/s 148,1 MiB/s serpent-xts 512b 209,4 MiB/s 212,4 MiB/s twofish-xts 512b 229,8 MiB/s 225,0 MiB/s
As you can above, PBKDF2-sha512 has the lowest number of iteration per second, this maximizes the effort of the attacker, because he can’t less iteration to get your password. Besides cbc (cipher-block chaining) and xts are possible ciphers. We will use xts because it’s designed to support disk encryption efficiently and cbc is known to have some information leakage attacks. Since I’m having an SSD under the hood and USB 3 I want to have fast access so using 512 bit key with the twofish key block cipher is my choice. Normally 256 bit are good enough but I take 512 in favor with the little CPU overhead to be more save for the future.
Now let’s put all the theory into practise:
$ sudo cryptsetup luksFormat -c twofish-xts -s 512 -h sha256 /dev/sdb1 WARNING! ======== This will overwrite data on /dev/sdb1 irrevocably. Are you sure? (Type uppercase yes): YES Enter passphrase: Verify passphrase:
- c … set the cipher specification link
- s … set the key size in bits
- h … specifies the passphrase hash for open (I’m using the deprecated sha256 because sha512 was not working on my machine)
Next we use the
luksOpen to mount the device:
$ sudo cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sdb1 transcend Enter passphrase for /dev/sdb1:
Once it’s mounted you need to create a valid partition:
$ sudo mke2fs -j /dev/mapper/transcend -L transcend mke2fs 1.42.9 (4-Feb-2014) Filesystem label=transcend OS type: Linux Block size=4096 (log=2) Fragment size=4096 (log=2) Stride=0 blocks, Stripe width=0 blocks 122101760 inodes, 488378126 blocks 24418906 blocks (5.00%) reserved for the super user First data block=0 Maximum filesystem blocks=4294967296 14905 block groups 32768 blocks per group, 32768 fragments per group 8192 inodes per group Superblock backups stored on blocks: 32768, 98304, 163840, 229376, 294912, 819200, 884736, 1605632, 2654208, 4096000, 7962624, 11239424, 20480000, 23887872, 71663616, 78675968, 102400000, 214990848 Allocating group tables: done Warning: could not read block 0: Attempt to read block from filesystem resulted in short read Writing inode tables: done ext2fs_mkdir: Attempt to read block from filesystem resulted in short read while creating root dir
-j options says that the filesystem should be ext3 journal and
-L sets the volume label for the filesystem to new-volume-label.
mkfs.exfat to create the filesystem but got later on problems with changing the owner rights.
It can be helpful to format the device in the exFAT format because it is both readable and writable by Mac, Windows, and Linux.
fstab file to automount the plates on your machine. Luckily the thunar filesmanager does all the
luksOpen thing automatically for me.