Chapter 9. Configuring automated unlocking of encrypted volumes using policy-based decryption

The Policy-Based Decryption (PBD) is a collection of technologies that enable unlocking encrypted root and secondary volumes of hard drives on physical and virtual machines. PBD uses a variety of unlocking methods, such as user passwords, a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) device, a PKCS #11 device connected to a system, for example, a smart card, or a special network server.

PBD allows combining different unlocking methods into a policy, which makes it possible to unlock the same volume in different ways. The current implementation of the PBD in Red Hat Enterprise Linux consists of the Clevis framework and plug-ins called pins. Each pin provides a separate unlocking capability. Currently, the following pins are available:

  • tang - allows volumes to be unlocked using a network server
  • tpm2 - allows volumes to be unlocked using a TPM2 policy

The Network Bound Disc Encryption (NBDE) is a subcategory of PBD that allows binding encrypted volumes to a special network server. The current implementation of the NBDE includes a Clevis pin for Tang server and the Tang server itself.

9.1. Network-bound disk encryption

In Red Hat Enterprise Linux, NBDE is implemented through the following components and technologies:

Figure 9.1. NBDE scheme when using a LUKS1-encrypted volume. The luksmeta package is not used for LUKS2 volumes.

RHEL Security Guide 453350 0717 ECE NBDE

Tang is a server for binding data to network presence. It makes a system containing your data available when the system is bound to a certain secure network. Tang is stateless and does not require TLS or authentication. Unlike escrow-based solutions, where the server stores all encryption keys and has knowledge of every key ever used, Tang never interacts with any client keys, so it never gains any identifying information from the client.

Clevis is a pluggable framework for automated decryption. In NBDE, Clevis provides automated unlocking of LUKS volumes. The clevis package provides the client side of the feature.

A Clevis pin is a plug-in into the Clevis framework. One of such pins is a plug-in that implements interactions with the NBDE server — Tang.

Clevis and Tang are generic client and server components that provide network-bound encryption. In Red Hat Enterprise Linux, they are used in conjunction with LUKS to encrypt and decrypt root and non-root storage volumes to accomplish Network-Bound Disk Encryption.

Both client- and server-side components use the José library to perform encryption and decryption operations.

When you begin provisioning NBDE, the Clevis pin for Tang server gets a list of the Tang server’s advertised asymmetric keys. Alternatively, since the keys are asymmetric, a list of Tang’s public keys can be distributed out of band so that clients can operate without access to the Tang server. This mode is called offline provisioning.

The Clevis pin for Tang uses one of the public keys to generate a unique, cryptographically-strong encryption key. Once the data is encrypted using this key, the key is discarded. The Clevis client should store the state produced by this provisioning operation in a convenient location. This process of encrypting data is the provisioning step.

The LUKS version 2 (LUKS2) is the default format in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, hence, the provisioning state for NBDE is stored as a token in a LUKS2 header. The leveraging of provisioning state for NBDE by the luksmeta package is used only for volumes encrypted with LUKS1. The Clevis pin for Tang supports both LUKS1 and LUKS2 without specification need.

When the client is ready to access its data, it loads the metadata produced in the provisioning step and it responds to recover the encryption key. This process is the recovery step.

In NBDE, Clevis binds a LUKS volume using a pin so that it can be automatically unlocked. After successful completion of the binding process, the disk can be unlocked using the provided Dracut unlocker.

9.2. Installing an encryption client - Clevis

Use this procedure to deploy and start using the Clevis pluggable framework on your system.


  1. To install Clevis and its pins on a system with an encrypted volume:

    # yum install clevis
  2. To decrypt data, use a clevis decrypt command and provide a cipher text in the JSON Web Encryption (JWE) format, for example:

    $ clevis decrypt < secret.jwe

Additional resources

  • For a quick reference, see the built-in CLI help:

    $ clevis
    Usage: clevis COMMAND [OPTIONS]
    clevis decrypt             Decrypts using the policy defined at encryption time
    clevis encrypt sss         Encrypts using a Shamir's Secret Sharing policy
    clevis encrypt tang        Encrypts using a Tang binding server policy
    clevis encrypt tpm2        Encrypts using a TPM2.0 chip binding policy
    clevis luks bind           Binds a LUKS device using the specified policy
    clevis luks list           Lists pins bound to a LUKSv1 or LUKSv2 device
    clevis luks pass           Returns the LUKS passphrase used for binding a particular slot.
    clevis luks regen          Regenerate LUKS metadata
    clevis luks report         Report any key rotation on the server side
    clevis luks unbind         Unbinds a pin bound to a LUKS volume
    clevis luks unlock         Unlocks a LUKS volume
  • For more information , see the clevis(1) man page.

9.3. Deploying a Tang server with SELinux in enforcing mode

Use this procedure to deploy a Tang server running on a custom port as a confined service in SELinux enforcing mode.


  • The policycoreutils-python-utils package and its dependencies are installed.


  1. To install the tang package and its dependencies, enter the following command as root:

    # yum install tang
  2. Pick an unoccupied port, for example, 7500/tcp, and allow the tangd service to bind to that port:

    # semanage port -a -t tangd_port_t -p tcp 7500

    Note that a port can be used only by one service at a time, and thus an attempt to use an already occupied port implies the ValueError: Port already defined error message.

  3. Open the port in the firewall:

    # firewall-cmd --add-port=7500/tcp
    # firewall-cmd --runtime-to-permanent
  4. Enable the tangd service:

    # systemctl enable tangd.socket
  5. Create an override file:

    # systemctl edit tangd.socket
  6. In the following editor screen, which opens an empty override.conf file located in the /etc/systemd/system/tangd.socket.d/ directory, change the default port for the Tang server from 80 to the previously picked number by adding the following lines:


    Save the file and exit the editor.

  7. Reload the changed configuration:

    # systemctl daemon-reload
  8. Check that your configuration is working:

    # systemctl show tangd.socket -p Listen
    Listen=[::]:7500 (Stream)
  9. Start the tangd service:

    # systemctl start tangd.socket

    Because tangd uses the systemd socket activation mechanism, the server starts as soon as the first connection comes in. A new set of cryptographic keys is automatically generated at the first start. To perform cryptographic operations such as manual key generation, use the jose utility.

Additional resources

  • tang(8) man page
  • semanage(8) man page
  • firewall-cmd(1) man page
  • systemd.unit(5) and systemd.socket(5) man pages
  • jose(1) man page

9.4. Rotating Tang server keys and updating bindings on clients

Use the following steps to rotate your Tang server keys and update existing bindings on clients. The precise interval at which you should rotate them depends on your application, key sizes, and institutional policy.


  • A Tang server is running.
  • The clevis and clevis-luks packages are installed on your clients.
  • Note that clevis luks list, clevis luks report, and clevis luks regen have been introduced in RHEL 8.2.


  1. To rotate keys, generate new keys using the /usr/libexec/tangd-keygen command in the /var/db/tang key database directory on the Tang server:

    # ls /var/db/tang
    UV6dqXSwe1bRKG3KbJmdiR020hY.jwk y9hxLTQSiSB5jSEGWnjhY8fDTJU.jwk
    # /usr/libexec/tangd-keygen /var/db/tang
    # ls /var/db/tang
    UV6dqXSwe1bRKG3KbJmdiR020hY.jwk y9hxLTQSiSB5jSEGWnjhY8fDTJU.jwk
    3ZWS6-cDrCG61UPJS2BMmPU4I54.jwk zyLuX6hijUy_PSeUEFDi7hi38.jwk
  2. Check that your Tang server advertises the signing key from the new key pair, for example:

    # tang-show-keys 7500
  3. Rename the old keys to have a leading . to hide them from advertisement. Note that the file names in the following example differs from unique file names in the key database directory of your Tang server:

    # cd /var/db/tang
    # ls -l
    -rw-r--r--. 1 root tang 354 Sep 23 16:08 3ZWS6-cDrCG61UPJS2BMmPU4I54.jwk
    -rw-r--r--. 1 root tang 349 Sep 23 16:08 I-zyLuX6hijUy_PSeUEFDi7hi38.jwk
    -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 349 Feb  7 14:55 UV6dqXSwe1bRKG3KbJmdiR020hY.jwk
    -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 354 Feb  7 14:55 y9hxLTQSiSB5jSEGWnjhY8fDTJU.jwk
    # mv UV6dqXSwe1bRKG3KbJmdiR020hY.jwk .UV6dqXSwe1bRKG3KbJmdiR020hY.jwk
    # mv y9hxLTQSiSB5jSEGWnjhY8fDTJU.jwk .y9hxLTQSiSB5jSEGWnjhY8fDTJU.jwk

    Tang immediately picks up all changes. No restart is required. At this point, new client bindings pick up the new keys and old clients can continue to utilize the old keys.

  4. On your NBDE clients, use the clevis luks report command to check if the keys advertised by the Tang server remains the same. You can identify slots with the relevant binding using the clevis luks list command, for example:

    # clevis luks list -d /dev/sda2
    1: tang '{"url":"http://tang.srv"}'
    # clevis luks report -d /dev/sda2 -s 1
    Report detected that some keys were rotated.
    Do you want to regenerate luks metadata with "clevis luks regen -d /dev/sda2 -s 1"? [ynYN]
  5. To regenerate LUKS metadata for the new keys either press y to the prompt of the previous command, or use the clevis luks regen command:

    # clevis luks regen -d /dev/sda2 -s 1
  6. When you are sure that all old clients use the new keys, you can remove the old keys from the Tang server, for example:

    # cd /var/db/tang
    # rm .*.jwk

Removing the old keys while clients are still using them can result in data loss. If you accidentally remove such keys, use the clevis luks regen command on the clients, and provide your LUKS password manually.

Additional resources

  • tang-show-keys(1), clevis-luks-list(1), clevis-luks-report(1), and clevis-luks-regen(1) man pages

9.5. Configuring automated unlocking using a Tang key in the web console

Configure automated unlocking of a LUKS-encrypted storage device using a key provided by a Tang server.


  • The RHEL 8 web console has been installed.

    For details, see Installing the web console.

  • The cockpit-storaged package is installed on your system.
  • The cockpit.socket service is running at port 9090.
  • The clevis, tang, and clevis-dracut packages are installed.
  • A Tang server is running.


  1. Open the RHEL web console by entering the following address in a web browser:


    Replace the localhost part by the remote server’s host name or IP address when you connect to a remote system.

  2. Provide your credentials and click Storage. Select an encrypted device and click Encryption in the Content part:
  3. Click + in the Keys section to add a Tang key:

    RHEL web console: Encryption
  4. Provide the address of your Tang server and a password that unlocks the LUKS-encrypted device. Click Add to confirm:

    RHEL web console: Add Tang key
  5. The following dialog window provides a command to verify that the key hash matches. RHEL 8.2 introduced the tang-show-keys script, and you can obtain the key hash using the following command on the Tang server running on the port 7500:

    # tang-show-keys 7500

    On RHEL 8.1 and earlier, obtain the key hash using the following command:

    # curl -s localhost:7500/adv | jose fmt -j- -g payload -y -o- | jose jwk use -i- -r -u verify -o- | jose jwk thp -i-
  6. Click Trust key when the key hashes in the web console and in the output of previously listed commands are the same:

    RHEL web console: Verify Tang key
  7. To enable the early boot system to process the disk binding, click Terminal at the bottom of the left navigation bar and enter the following commands:

    # yum install clevis-dracut
    # dracut -fv --regenerate-all

Verification steps

  1. Check that the newly added Tang key is now listed in the Keys section with the Keyserver type:

    RHEL web console: A keyserver key is listed
  2. Verify that the bindings are available for the early boot, for example:

    # lsinitrd | grep clevis
    -rwxr-xr-x   1 root     root         1600 Feb 11 16:30 usr/bin/clevis
    -rwxr-xr-x   1 root     root         1654 Feb 11 16:30 usr/bin/clevis-decrypt
    -rwxr-xr-x   2 root     root           45 Feb 11 16:30 usr/lib/dracut/hooks/initqueue/settled/
    -rwxr-xr-x   1 root     root         2257 Feb 11 16:30 usr/libexec/clevis-luks-askpass

Additional resources

9.6. Deploying an encryption client for an NBDE system with Tang

The following procedure contains steps to configure automated unlocking of an encrypted volume with a Tang network server.


  • The Clevis framework is installed.
  • A Tang server is available.


  1. To bind a Clevis encryption client to a Tang server, use the clevis encrypt tang sub-command:

    $ clevis encrypt tang '{"url":"http://tang.srv:port"}' < input-plain.txt > secret.jwe
    The advertisement contains the following signing keys:
    Do you wish to trust these keys? [ynYN] y

    Change the http://tang.srv:port URL in the previous example to match the URL of the server where tang is installed. The secret.jwe output file contains your encrypted cipher text in the JSON Web Encryption format. This cipher text is read from the input-plain.txt input file.

    Alternatively, if your configuration requires a non-interactive communication with a Tang server without SSH access, you can download an advertisement and save it to a file:

    $ curl -sfg http://tang.srv:port/adv -o adv.jws

    Use the advertisement in the adv.jws file for any following tasks, such as encryption of files or messages:

    $ echo 'hello' | clevis encrypt tang '{"url":"http://tang.srv:port","adv":"adv.jws"}'
  2. To decrypt data, use the clevis decrypt command and provide the cipher text (JWE):

    $ clevis decrypt < secret.jwe > output-plain.txt

Additional resources

  • For a quick reference, see the clevis-encrypt-tang(1) man page or use the built-in CLI help:

    $ clevis
    $ clevis decrypt
    $ clevis encrypt tang
    Usage: clevis encrypt tang CONFIG < PLAINTEXT > JWE
  • For more information, see the following man pages:

    • clevis(1)
    • clevis-luks-unlockers(7)

9.7. Removing a Clevis pin from a LUKS-encrypted volume manually

Use the following procedure for manual removing the metadata created by the clevis luks bind command and also for wiping a key slot that contains passphrase added by Clevis.


The recommended way to remove a Clevis pin from a LUKS-encrypted volume is through the clevis luks unbind command. The removal procedure using clevis luks unbind consists of only one step and works for both LUKS1 and LUKS2 volumes. The following example command removes the metadata created by the binding step and wipe the key slot 1 on the /dev/sda2 device:

# clevis luks unbind -d /dev/sda2 -s 1


  • A LUKS-encrypted volume with a Clevis binding.


  1. Check which LUKS version the volume, for example /dev/sda2, is encrypted by and identify a slot and a token that is bound to Clevis:

    # cryptsetup luksDump /dev/sda2
    LUKS header information
    Version:        2
      0: luks2
    1: luks2
          Key:        512 bits
          Priority:   normal
          Cipher:     aes-xts-plain64
            0: clevis
                  Keyslot:  1

    In the previous example, the Clevis token is identified by 0 and the associated key slot is 1.

  2. In case of LUKS2 encryption, remove the token:

    # cryptsetup token remove --token-id 0 /dev/sda2
  3. If your device is encrypted by LUKS1, which is indicated by the Version: 1 string in the output of the cryptsetup luksDump command, perform this additional step with the luksmeta wipe command:

    # luksmeta wipe -d /dev/sda2 -s 1
  4. Wipe the key slot containing the Clevis passphrase:

    # cryptsetup luksKillSlot /dev/sda2 1

Additional resources

  • For more information, see the clevis-luks-unbind(1), cryptsetup(8), and luksmeta(8) man pages.

9.8. Deploying an encryption client with a TPM 2.0 policy

The following procedure contains steps to configure automated unlocking of an encrypted volume with a Trusted Platform Module 2.0 (TPM 2.0) policy.



  1. To deploy a client that encrypts using a TPM 2.0 chip, use the clevis encrypt tpm2 sub-command with the only argument in form of the JSON configuration object:

    $ clevis encrypt tpm2 '{}' < input-plain.txt > secret.jwe

    To choose a different hierarchy, hash, and key algorithms, specify configuration properties, for example:

    $ clevis encrypt tpm2 '{"hash":"sha1","key":"rsa"}' < input-plain.txt > secret.jwe
  2. To decrypt the data, provide the ciphertext in the JSON Web Encryption (JWE) format:

    $ clevis decrypt < secret.jwe > output-plain.txt

The pin also supports sealing data to a Platform Configuration Registers (PCR) state. That way, the data can only be unsealed if the PCRs hashes values match the policy used when sealing.

For example, to seal the data to the PCR with index 0 and 1 for the SHA-1 bank:

$ clevis encrypt tpm2 '{"pcr_bank":"sha1","pcr_ids":"0,1"}' < input-plain.txt > secret.jwe

Additional resources

  • For more information and the list of possible configuration properties, see the clevis-encrypt-tpm2(1) man page.

9.9. Configuring manual enrollment of LUKS-encrypted volumes

Use the following steps to configure unlocking of LUKS-encrypted volumes with NBDE.


  • A Tang server is running and available.


  1. To automatically unlock an existing LUKS-encrypted volume, install the clevis-luks subpackage:

    # yum install clevis-luks
  2. Identify the LUKS-encrypted volume for PBD. In the following example, the block device is referred as /dev/sda2:

    # lsblk
    NAME                                          MAJ:MIN RM   SIZE RO TYPE  MOUNTPOINT
    sda                                             8:0    0    12G  0 disk
    ├─sda1                                          8:1    0     1G  0 part  /boot
    └─sda2                                          8:2    0    11G  0 part
      └─luks-40e20552-2ade-4954-9d56-565aa7994fb6 253:0    0    11G  0 crypt
        ├─rhel-root                               253:0    0   9.8G  0 lvm   /
        └─rhel-swap                               253:1    0   1.2G  0 lvm   [SWAP]
  3. Bind the volume to a Tang server using the clevis luks bind command:

    # clevis luks bind -d /dev/sda2 tang '{"url":"http://tang.srv"}'
    The advertisement contains the following signing keys:
    Do you wish to trust these keys? [ynYN] y
    You are about to initialize a LUKS device for metadata storage.
    Attempting to initialize it may result in data loss if data was
    already written into the LUKS header gap in a different format.
    A backup is advised before initialization is performed.
    Do you wish to initialize /dev/sda2? [yn] y
    Enter existing LUKS password:

    This command performs four steps:

    1. Creates a new key with the same entropy as the LUKS master key.
    2. Encrypts the new key with Clevis.
    3. Stores the Clevis JWE object in the LUKS2 header token or uses LUKSMeta if the non-default LUKS1 header is used.
    4. Enables the new key for use with LUKS.


      The binding procedure assumes that there is at least one free LUKS password slot. The clevis luks bind command takes one of the slots.

  4. The volume can now be unlocked with your existing password as well as with the Clevis policy.
  5. To enable the early boot system to process the disk binding, enter the following commands on an already installed system:

    # yum install clevis-dracut
    # dracut -fv --regenerate-all

Verification steps

  1. To verify that the Clevis JWE object is successfully placed in a LUKS header, use the clevis luks list command:

    # clevis luks list -d /dev/sda2
    1: tang '{"url":"http://tang.srv:port"}'

To use NBDE for clients with static IP configuration (without DHCP), pass your network configuration to the dracut tool manually, for example:

# dracut -fv --regenerate-all --kernel-cmdline "ip="

Alternatively, create a .conf file in the /etc/dracut.conf.d/ directory with the static network information. For example:

# cat /etc/dracut.conf.d/static_ip.conf

Regenerate the initial RAM disk image:

# dracut -fv --regenerate-all

Additional resources

For more information, see the following man pages:

  • clevis-luks-bind(1)
  • dracut.cmdline(7)

9.10. Configuring automated enrollment of LUKS-encrypted volumes using Kickstart

Follow the steps in this procedure to configure an automated installation process that uses Clevis for enrollment of LUKS-encrypted volumes.


  1. Instruct Kickstart to partition the disk such that LUKS encryption has enabled for all mount points, other than /boot, with a temporary password. The password is temporary for this step of the enrollment process.

    part /boot --fstype="xfs" --ondisk=vda --size=256
    part / --fstype="xfs" --ondisk=vda --grow --encrypted --passphrase=temppass

    Note that OSPP-complaint systems require a more complex configuration, for example:

    part /boot --fstype="xfs" --ondisk=vda --size=256
    part / --fstype="xfs" --ondisk=vda --size=2048 --encrypted --passphrase=temppass
    part /var --fstype="xfs" --ondisk=vda --size=1024 --encrypted --passphrase=temppass
    part /tmp --fstype="xfs" --ondisk=vda --size=1024 --encrypted --passphrase=temppass
    part /home --fstype="xfs" --ondisk=vda --size=2048 --grow --encrypted --passphrase=temppass
    part /var/log --fstype="xfs" --ondisk=vda --size=1024 --encrypted --passphrase=temppass
    part /var/log/audit --fstype="xfs" --ondisk=vda --size=1024 --encrypted --passphrase=temppass
  2. Install the related Clevis packages by listing them in the %packages section:

  3. Call clevis luks bind to perform binding in the %post section. Afterward, remove the temporary password:

    curl -sfg http://tang.srv/adv -o adv.jws
    clevis luks bind -f -k- -d /dev/vda2 \
    tang '{"url":"http://tang.srv","adv":"adv.jws"}' \ <<< "temppass"
    cryptsetup luksRemoveKey /dev/vda2 <<< "temppass"

    In the previous example, note that we download the advertisement from the Tang server as part of our binding configuration, enabling binding to be completely non-interactive.


    The cryptsetup luksRemoveKey command prevents any further administration of a LUKS2 device on which you apply it. You can recover a removed master key using the dmsetup command only for LUKS1 devices.

You can use an analogous procedure when using a TPM 2.0 policy instead of a Tang server.

Additional resources

9.11. Configuring automated unlocking of a LUKS-encrypted removable storage device

Use this procedure to set up an automated unlocking process of a LUKS-encrypted USB storage device.


  1. To automatically unlock a LUKS-encrypted removable storage device, such as a USB drive, install the clevis-udisks2 package:

    # yum install clevis-udisks2
  2. Reboot the system, and then perform the binding step using the clevis luks bind command as described in Configuring manual enrollment of LUKS-encrypted volumes, for example:

    # clevis luks bind -d /dev/sdb1 tang '{"url":"http://tang.srv"}'
  3. The LUKS-encrypted removable device can be now unlocked automatically in your GNOME desktop session. The device bound to a Clevis policy can be also unlocked by the clevis luks unlock command:

    # clevis luks unlock -d /dev/sdb1

You can use an analogous procedure when using a TPM 2.0 policy instead of a Tang server.

Additional resources

For more information, see the following man page:

  • clevis-luks-unlockers(7)

9.12. Deploying high-availability NBDE systems

Tang provides two methods for building a high-availability deployment:

Client redundancy (recommended)
Clients should be configured with the ability to bind to multiple Tang servers. In this setup, each Tang server has its own keys and clients can decrypt by contacting a subset of these servers. Clevis already supports this workflow through its sss plug-in. Red Hat recommends this method for a high-availability deployment.
Key sharing
For redundancy purposes, more than one instance of Tang can be deployed. To set up a second or any subsequent instance, install the tang packages and copy the key directory to the new host using rsync over SSH. Note that Red Hat does not recommend this method because sharing keys increases the risk of key compromise and requires additional automation infrastructure.

9.12.1. High-available NBDE using Shamir’s Secret Sharing

Shamir’s Secret Sharing (SSS) is a cryptographic scheme that divides a secret into several unique parts. To reconstruct the secret, a number of parts is required. The number is called threshold and SSS is also referred to as a thresholding scheme.

Clevis provides an implementation of SSS. It creates a key and divides it into a number of pieces. Each piece is encrypted using another pin including even SSS recursively. Additionally, you define the threshold t. If an NBDE deployment decrypts at least t pieces, then it recovers the encryption key and the decryption process succeeds. Example 1: Redundancy with two Tang servers

The following command decrypts a LUKS-encrypted device when at least one of two Tang servers is available:

# clevis luks bind -d /dev/sda1 sss '{"t":1,"pins":{"tang":[{"url":"http://tang1.srv"},{"url":"http://tang2.srv"}]}}'

The previous command used the following configuration scheme:


In this configuration, the SSS threshold t is set to 1 and the clevis luks bind command successfully reconstructs the secret if at least one from two listed tang servers is available. Example 2: Shared secret on a Tang server and a TPM device

The following command successfully decrypts a LUKS-encrypted device when both the tang server and the tpm2 device are available:

# clevis luks bind -d /dev/sda1 sss '{"t":2,"pins":{"tang":[{"url":"http://tang1.srv"}], "tpm2": {"pcr_ids":"0,1"}}}'

The configuration scheme with the SSS threshold 't' set to '2' is now:


Additional resources

  • For more information about the recommended high-availability NBDE setup, see the following man pages:

    • tang(8), section High Availability
    • clevis(1), section Shamir’s Secret Sharing
    • clevis-encrypt-sss(1)

9.13. Deployment of virtual machines in a NBDE network

The clevis luks bind command does not change the LUKS master key. This implies that if you create a LUKS-encrypted image for use in a virtual machine or cloud environment, all the instances that run this image will share a master key. This is extremely insecure and should be avoided at all times.

This is not a limitation of Clevis but a design principle of LUKS. If you wish to have encrypted root volumes in a cloud, you need to make sure that you perform the installation process (usually using Kickstart) for each instance of Red Hat Enterprise Linux in a cloud as well. The images cannot be shared without also sharing a LUKS master key.

If you intend to deploy automated unlocking in a virtualized environment, Red Hat strongly recommends that you use systems such as lorax or virt-install together with a Kickstart file (see Configuring automated enrollment of LUKS-encrypted volumes using Kickstart) or another automated provisioning tool to ensure that each encrypted VM has a unique master key.


Automated unlocking with a TPM 2.0 policy is not supported in a virtual machine.

Additional resources

For more information, see the following man page:

  • clevis-luks-bind(1)

9.14. Building automatically-enrollable VM images for cloud environments using NBDE

Deploying automatically-enrollable encrypted images in a cloud environment can provide a unique set of challenges. Like other virtualization environments, it is recommended to reduce the number of instances started from a single image to avoid sharing the LUKS master key.

Therefore, the best practice is to create customized images that are not shared in any public repository and that provide a base for the deployment of a limited amount of instances. The exact number of instances to create should be defined by deployment’s security policies and based on the risk tolerance associated with the LUKS master key attack vector.

To build LUKS-enabled automated deployments, systems such as Lorax or virt-install together with a Kickstart file should be used to ensure master key uniqueness during the image building process.

Cloud environments enable two Tang server deployment options which we consider here. First, the Tang server can be deployed within the cloud environment itself. Second, the Tang server can be deployed outside of the cloud on independent infrastructure with a VPN link between the two infrastructures.

Deploying Tang natively in the cloud does allow for easy deployment. However, given that it shares infrastructure with the data persistence layer of ciphertext of other systems, it may be possible for both the Tang server’s private key and the Clevis metadata to be stored on the same physical disk. Access to this physical disk permits a full compromise of the ciphertext data.


For this reason, Red Hat strongly recommends maintaining a physical separation between the location where the data is stored and the system where Tang is running. This separation between the cloud and the Tang server ensures that the Tang server’s private key cannot be accidentally combined with the Clevis metadata. It also provides local control of the Tang server if the cloud infrastructure is at risk.

9.15. Additional resources