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SubjectRe: [RFC PATCH v2 00/11] x86: Support Intel Key Locker
On Mon, May 17, 2021 at 11:21 AM Bae, Chang Seok
<> wrote:
> On May 15, 2021, at 11:01, Andy Lutomirski <> wrote:
> > On 5/14/21 1:14 PM, Chang S. Bae wrote:
> >> Key Locker [1][2] is a new security feature available in new Intel CPUs to
> >> protect data encryption keys for the Advanced Encryption Standard
> >> algorithm. The protection limits the amount of time an AES key is exposed
> >> in memory by sealing a key and referencing it with new AES instructions.
> >>
> >> The new AES instruction set is a successor of Intel's AES-NI (AES New
> >> Instruction). Users may switch to the Key Locker version from crypto
> >> libraries. This series includes a new AES implementation for the Crypto
> >> API, which was validated through the crypto unit tests. The performance in
> >> the test cases was measured and found comparable to the AES-NI version.
> >>
> >> Key Locker introduces a (CPU-)internal key to encode AES keys. The kernel
> >> needs to load it and ensure it unchanged as long as CPUs are operational.
> >
> > I have high-level questions:
> >
> > What is the expected use case?
> The wrapping key here is only used for new AES instructions.
> I’m aware of their potential use cases for encrypting file system or disks.
> > My personal hypothesis, based on various
> > public Intel slides, is that the actual intended use case was internal
> > to the ME, and that KL was ported to end-user CPUs more or less
> > verbatim.
> No, this is a separate one. The feature has nothing to do with the firmware
> except that in some situations it merely helps to back up the key in its
> state.
> > I certainly understand how KL is valuable in a context where
> > a verified boot process installs some KL keys that are not subsequently
> > accessible outside the KL ISA, but Linux does not really work like this.
> Do you mind elaborating on the concern? I try to understand any issue with
> PATCH3 [1], specifically.

If I understand Andy's concern it is the observation that the weakest
link in this facility is the initial key load. Yes, KL reduces
exposure after that event, but the key loading process is still
vulnerable. This question is similar to the concern between the Linux
"encrypted-keys" and "trusted-keys" interface. The trusted-keys
interface still has an attack window where the key is unwrapped in
kernel space to decrypt the sub-keys, but that exposure need not cross
the user-kernel boundary and can be time-limited to a given PCR state.
The encrypted-keys interface maintains the private-key material
outside the kernel where it has increased exposure. KL is effectively
"encrypted-keys" and Andy is questioning whether this makes KL similar
to the MKTME vs SGX / TDX situation.

> > I'm wondering what people will use it for.
> Mentioned above.

I don't think this answers Andy's question. There is a distinction
between what it can be used for and what people will deploy with it in
practice given the "encrypted-keys"-like exposure. Clarify the end
user benefit that motivates the kernel to carry this support.

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