Are Your Linux Servers Really Protected?
It’s often thought that because the servers are behind lock and key and/or in a data center, and because the data is in continuous use, encrypting the server drives isn’t needed since the data is never at-rest.
When thinking about IT security, one area that may not readily come to mind is the physical security of an enterprise’s servers. It’s often thought that because the servers are behind lock and key and/or in a data center, and because the data is in continuous use, encrypting the server drives isn’t needed since the data is never at-rest.
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That thinking presents a significant potential problem, though. Eventually, all drives need to be repaired or disposed of and must leave the data center. Having them encrypted is the best way to protect the data on them from accidental – or potentially not accidental – exposure. Adding to that, given the seemingly never-ending amount of breaches in the news and compliance regulations like GDPR, HIPAA and those of all 50 states, the wise advice is to encrypt everything, everywhere, all the time.
If you have Linux servers, you may think you are protected since Linux has built in encryption for several years now. But, that may not in fact be the case. Why is that?
Following are the disk encryption capabilities built into Linux:
dm-crypt is a transparent disk encryption subsystem within the Linux kernel. It is a block device-based abstraction that can be inserted on top of other block devices, like disks. It is, therefore, an ideal technology to be used for full disk encryption (FDE). The actual encryption is not built into dm-crypt, but rather it utilizes cryptographic routines (e.g., AES) from the kernel’s Crypto API.
LUKS (Linux Unified Key Setup) is a disk encryption specification that details a platform-independent standard on-disk format for use in various tools (e.g., a standard encryption header), which provides the basis for implementing password management. LUKS operates on Linux and is based on an enhanced version of cryptsetup that uses dm-crypt as the disk encryption backend.