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RFC-0157: Fxfs encryption and multi-volume support

RFC-0157: Fxfs encryption and multi-volume support
  • Storage

Describes encryption and multi-volume support in Fxfs.

Gerrit change
Date submitted (year-month-day)2022-04-07
Date reviewed (year-month-day)2022-04-28


This RFC describes encryption and multi-volume support in Fxfs.


Fuchsia needs to be able to support multiple volumes that are encrypted using different keys that are bound to different users' passwords.


Reviewers: abarth@google.com, enoharemaien@google.com, palmer@google.com, jfsulliv@google.com, jsankey@google.com, zarvox@google.com,

Consulted: Fuchsia's security, storage and privacy teams.

Socialization: This design was circulated and reviewed with the Storage team and aforementioned reviewers prior to starting this RFC process.


Fxfs is described in RFC-0136.


  1. It should be possible to create, enumerate and delete volumes.

  2. Each volume should be encrypted with different keys.

  3. Object metadata such as file names, sizes, and timestamps should be encrypted.

  4. It must be possible to delete volumes when no key is present.

  5. Support for key-rolling should be possible without requiring herculean migration efforts.

  6. There should be limits on the sizes of volumes (although the design for this is left for the future).

  7. It should be possible to query the size of the volume without access to the key.

  8. There should be protection against fingerprint attacks based on block count. This is an attack where knowing the encrypted size (rounded up to the nearest block) of a number of files in a set can be used to ascertain whether that set of files exists on the filesystem.


The following areas are not covered by this design:

  1. Transferring encrypted images between devices (which includes host and target devices) in either direction — whilst being able to do this to aid debugging would be helpful, it is unlikely to ever be possible on a production device and there is no precedent.

  2. The implementation of the crypt service. This design is covered elsewhere.

  3. The design should support key rolling, but the precise APIs to be used between components is out-of-scope.


Fxfs Encryption

Fxfs built-in encryption will support separate per-file keys. Files will typically only have one encryption key, but to support key rolling and file cloning, the format will support multiple keys per-file. Keys will be wrapped and unwrapped by a crypto service that Fxfs will communicate with.

The following objects within the root parent and root stores will have some form of encryption:

  1. The journal, (which exists within the root-parent store), will have mutations that are for metadata in child stores encrypted using a stream cipher. The key for this cipher will be per-store.

  2. The layer files for child stores (which exist within the root store) will be encrypted. The mechanism for encrypting these files will be the same as all other files. The key will be wrapped using a per-store key and stored with other unencrypted store information.

Other objects in the root parent and root stores will not be encrypted, namely the super-block, all objects related to the allocator, the layer files backing the root object store (which holds metadata for root-store objects) and the objects that contain basic information about the child stores. None of this constitutes user data.

The net result of this is that:

  • User data will be encrypted
  • All metadata including filenames, file sizes, extent information and directory information will be encrypted.

Some information will not be encrypted:

  • The number of files within a volume.
  • The set of extents allocated to a volume.

Object IDs

Within Fxfs Object IDs are currently allocated in a monotonically increasing fashion which can be used as a side-channel. To address this, the least-significant 32 bits of the object ID will be encrypted (at allocation time) using ff1 encryption. The key will be rotated after cycling through 32 bits worth of object IDs. The key will be stored wrapped and stored with the rest of the unencrypted store information. The upper 32 bits of the object ID will increment monotonically each time the key is rolled.

The number of objects and space used within a volume also provides a side-channel (essentially all information available via statvfs). Addressing this is out-of-scope for this design (it is not new to Fxfs).

Key Management

Key wrapping and unwrapping is the responsibility of a separate "crypt" service which will serve something like the following protocol:

/// Designates the purpose of a key.
type KeyPurpose = flexible enum {
    /// The key will be used to encrypt metadata.
    METADATA = 1;
    /// The key will be used to encrypt data.
    DATA = 2;

protocol Crypt {
    /// Creates a new wrapped key.  `owner`, effectively a nonce, identifies the
    /// owner (an object ID) of the key and must be supplied to `UnwrapKey`.
    /// `metadata` indicates that the key will be used to encrypt metadata which
    /// might influence the choice of wrapping key used by the service.  Returns
    /// the wrapping key ID used to wrap this key along with the wrapped and
    /// unwrapped key.  Errors:
    ///   ZX_ERR_INVALID_ARGS: purpose is not recognised.
    ///   ZX_ERR_BAD_STATE: the crypt service has not been correctly initialized
    ///     with a wrapping key for the specified purpose.
    CreateKey(struct {
        owner uint64;
        purpose KeyPurpose;
    }) -> (struct {
        wrapping_key_id uint64;
        wrapped_key bytes:48;
        unwrapped_key bytes:32;
    }) error zx.status;

    /// Unwraps keys that are wrapped by the key identified by `wrapping_key_id`.
    /// `owner` must be the same as that passed to `CreateKey`.  This can fail due
    /// to permission reasons or if an incorrect key is supplied.
    UnwrapKey(struct {
        wrapping_key_id uint64;
        owner uint64;
        key bytes:48;
    }) -> (struct {
        unwrapped_key bytes:32;
    }) error zx.status;
  • The meaning of wrapping_key_id is up to the implementer of the crypt service. Fxfs will not apply any significance to its value.

  • It is expected that there will be a separate connection for each encrypted Fxfs volume, thus allowing the servers to be homed in different processes, should that be desired.

  • For now, 256 bit keys will be supported (which is consistent with Zxcrypt).

  • It is anticipated that the crypt service will use AEAD to wrap the keys which means wrapped keys are likely to be 48 bytes in size.

  • purpose is used to separate keys used for metadata and keys used for data, and exists to facilitate key rolling (see below).

The precise implementation of the crypt service, and the key management policy, is out of scope for this design.

On-disk format

Each file will have something like:

#[derive(Clone, Debug, Serialize, Deserialize, PartialEq)]
pub enum EncryptionKeys {

#[derive(Clone, Debug, Serialize, Deserialize, PartialEq)]
pub struct WrappedKeys {
    /// The keys (wrapped).  To support key rolling and clones, there can be more
    /// than one key.  Each of the keys is given an identifier.  The identifier is
    /// unique to the object.  AES256-XTS requires a 512 bit key, which is made
    /// of two 256 bit keys, one for the data and one for the tweak.  Both those
    /// keys are derived from the single 256 bit key we have here.
    pub keys: Vec<(/* wrapping_key_id= */ u64, /* id= */ u64, [u8; 48])>,

Each extent will be something like:

pub enum ExtentValue {
    /// Indicates a deleted extent; that is, the logical range described by the
    /// extent key is considered to be deleted.
    /// The location of the extent and other related information.  `key_id`
    /// identifies which of the object's keys should be used.  `checksums` hold
    /// post-encryption checksums.
    Some { device_offset: u64, checksums: Checksums, key_id: u64 },

Data blocks will be encrypted using AES-XTS-256 (the same as that used by Zxcrypt). The logical offset within the file will be used for the tweak.


Object stores maintain log-structured merge (LSM) trees to hold their metadata which will be encrypted in the same way as files contained within the store. The keys used for the layer files will be created with the purpose set to "metadata".

As transactions are committed, mutations are written to the journal. These mutations are applied to the in-memory layers for the LSM trees. Some time later, the in-memory layers are flushed into persistent layers. Any mutations for the object metadata trees need to be encrypted as they are written to the journal. To support this, Fxfs uses a new mutation:


A stream cipher (a block cipher such as AES-XTS-256 is not suitable), Chacha20, will be used to encrypt these mutations. The key for this will be wrapped and stored with other unencrypted store data.

At replay time, the key might not be available, in which case these mutations will be kept in memory in encrypted form. If there is a need to flush in-memory data (to release space in the journal), these encrypted mutations will be written to an object in the root store.

When the key becomes available, the encrypted mutations, which might be in-memory or exist in the aforementioned file, can be decrypted and applied. To decrypt the mutations, the offset in the cipher stream is required; this is stored with the unencrypted information for a store.

These are the new fields added to StoreInfo (the unencrypted information for a store):

    // The (wrapped) key that encrypted mutations should use.
    mutations_key: Option<Box<[u8]>>,

    // Mutations for the store are encrypted using a stream cipher.  To decrypt the
    // mutations, we need to know the offset in the cipher stream to start it.
    mutations_cipher_offset: u64,

    // If we have to flush the store whilst we do not have the key, we need to
    // write the encrypted mutations to an object. This is the object ID of that
    // file if it exists.
    encrypted_mutations_object_id: u64,

Volume Deletion

To support deleting volumes, allocation metadata will include the object ID of the store ID that owns metadata:

pub struct AllocatorKey {
    pub device_range: Range<u64>,

pub enum AllocationRefCount {
    // Tombstone variant indicating an extent is no longer allocated.
    // Used when we know there are no possible allocations below us in the stack.
    // (e.g. on the first allocation of an extent.)
    // This variant also tracks the owning ObjectStore for the extent.
    Abs { count: u64, owner_object_id: u64 },

pub struct AllocatorValue {
     /// Reference count for the allocated range.
     /// (A zero reference count is treated as a 'tombstone', indicating that older
     /// values in the LSM Tree for this range should be ignored).
     pub refs: AllocationRefCount,

Deleting a volume will involve changing the allocator so that it regards all records belonging to a deleted volume as free. After a major compaction, we can be sure that those records no longer exist and we can then forget that the volume exists. The allocator keeps information about the list of deleted volumes with the rest of its metadata.

Inline data

Fxfs does not currently support inline data, but when it does, it will be encrypted with the same keys used to encrypt metadata. These keys effectively get rolled as new layer files are written.

Secure Erase

Securely erasing a file requires that a file remains unrecoverable even if keys (excepting those present in hardware) are subsequently compromised. Given that the filesystem is typically running on flash devices (which employ garbage collection), wiping all occurrences of data is non-trivial. The only practical solution is to roll the wrapping keys (which should not be stored on flash).

Secure erase is not a feature that is planned to be implemented, but it should be possible with the following procedure:

  1. Start wrapping new metadata keys with a new wrapping key.

  2. Fxfs rewrites all objects using the old metadata key.

  3. The old metadata wrapping key is shredded (typically using a TPM feature either directly or indirectly — this is out of scope for this design).

Step 2 can be accomplished relatively easily within Fxfs by performing a major compaction. As this is something that happens naturally, this is a procedure that can take place routinely as well as on demand. It would be possible to arrange for Fxfs to guarantee a major compaction once every, say, week, although it would depend on the keys being available.

This procedure requires that metadata keys are wrapped using a different wrapping key to data (since otherwise it would force all data to be rewritten, which is prohibitive), hence the metadata argument supplied to the create_key method.

Note that the procedure requires rewriting all metadata for a volume, which should therefore not be something that should be performed frequently.

Key Rolling

Key rolling of metadata wrapping keys is outlined above for secure erase. Rolling the keys used to wrap data keys should be possible using the following procedure:

  1. Start wrapping new keys with a new wrapping key. Return a new wrapping_key_id for keys wrapped in this way.

  2. Ask Fxfs to rewrap all keys matching a given wrapping_key_id. The API for this is left for a subsequent design: it should require no on-disk format change.

  3. Follow the Secure Erase procedure to wrap the metadata keys. Since keys are only ever written to metadata files, it should ensure that the data wrapping key is successfully rolled once the old wrapping key has been shredded.

Note that steps 2 and 3 could be combined — it should be possible to perform a major compaction and rewrap the keys at the same time.

Like Secure Erase, key rolling support is not planned to be implemented initially.


Fsck without the key will perform a limited set of checks. Consistency of the encrypted store is obviously not possible, but it will be possible to check extents and consistency of all other unencrypted stores.

With the key available, it will be possible to perform a complete consistency check or just a check of the metadata for an individual volume.

Multi-Volume Support

fshost will export a new directory: volumes. The nodes within the directory will represent volumes exported by fshost and will support a new volume protocol (no other protocol will be supported on the nodes, i.e. they will not support the fuchsia.io Node protocol, so they cannot be cloned). The protocol will be something like:

type MountOptions = table {
    // A handle to the crypt service. Unencrypted volumes will ignore this option.
    crypt client_end:Crypt;

protocol Volume {
    // Mounts the volume and starts serving the filesystem. An error will be
    // returned if the volume is currently being served from a previous call
    // to Mount.
    Mount(resource struct {
        export_root server_end:Directory;
        options MountOptions;
    }) -> () error zx.status;

Mount will fail if the wrong crypt service is supplied but this should be exceptional; users should call Mount with the expectation that Mount will succeed; it should not be used as a means to test a credential.

The export root will look just like that exposed by filesystems now. The fs.Admin service will be exposed and volumes can be locked/shut-down using the Shutdown method. A volume will also become locked if all connections to the volume are closed. When a volume is locked, care will be taken to make sure that all unwrapped keys are discarded.

Enumeration and removal will be done via the fuchsia.io Directory protocol on the volumes directory. Removal might or might not be asynchronous, but success will not be returned until it is guaranteed the volume will eventually be removed. The name can be reused immediately, but the space might take some time to become available for use.

New volumes cannot use the Directory protocol's open method because we need to supply a crypt service and other options. Instead a new protocol will be added:

type CreateVolumeOptions = table {
    // Reserved for future use.

protocol Manager {
    // Creates a new data volume.
    CreateVolume(resource struct {
        name string:MAX_FILENAME;
        crypt client_end:Crypt;
        export_root server_end: Directory;
        options CreateVolumeOptions;
    }) -> () error zx.status;;

Initially, implementation will proceed assuming that Fxfs will be managing all these volumes, but it should be possible in future to provide a component that works with file systems backed by Zxcrypt.

The names and precise set of volumes that might exist on a volume will be based on product decisions and are outside the scope of this RFC.


Support for multiple volumes and encryption will be implemented in typical fashion.

There are no current plans to support for key-rolling, secure-erase and inline-data.

AES-XTS-256, ChaCha20 and ff1 encryption will be provided by third-party crates.

Security audits will be required.


Encryption will have an impact on performance. Existing filesystem benchmarks will be used to evaluate performance. Once implemented, Zxcrypt can be eliminated which should counter any loss due to this implementation. Any regressions from current performance will be investigated.

Backwards Compatibility

This will be a breaking change to Fxfs and will require a reformat.

Security considerations

This RFC has been reviewed by the security team.

The following requirements are driven by security:

  1. Each volume should be encrypted by different keys.

  2. File data and metadata should be encrypted.

  3. It should be difficult to use object IDs as a side-channel.

The implementation will require a security review.

Privacy considerations

This RFC has been reviewed by the privacy team.

The main privacy consideration is that the following data will not be encrypted:

  • The number of files within a volume.
  • The set of extents allocated to a volume (which would include the amount of space allocated to a volume).
  • The names of volumes.

All other data and metadata should be encrypted. This should be sufficient to address the requirements including the fingerprint attack.

The security review of the implementation should verify the design meets these requirements.


This will be tested using the usual combination of unit, integration and end-to-end tests. Fxfs will be used for the data partition for many of the tests that run under CQ and will therefore gain exposure that way.


At some stage, documentation will be required to help system designers choose between different storage options for a given product. However, the way in which that configuration takes place is yet to be decided and is outside the scope of this RFC.

The APIs introduced in this RFC will initially (and quite possibly indefinitely) be in-tree, and for the time being will be documented as part of the FIDL.

Drawbacks, alternatives, and unknowns

The encryption design outlined in this RFC is considerably more complicated than partition-based encryption as used by Zxcrypt.

It will still be possible for system designers to use partition-based encryption, but this comes with limitations on space sharing between volumes: a partition-based scheme that is to be flexible with space requires a volume-manager (thus incurring a performance-hit due to the additional indirection) and can suffer fragmentation issues (moving space between partitions might require defragmentation). It is also considerably harder to support secure erase and key rolling on partition based schemes.

Prior art and references

Zxcrypt uses AES-256 XTS to encrypt blocks in a similar way as this RFC although there are differences in the tweak used.

The design here is mostly compatible with Android 12's encryption requirements. One significant difference is that metadata that passes through Fxfs's journal needs to be encrypted with a stream cipher which is not explicitly mentioned as acceptable.