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Version: 3.1

Encrypted volumes using pxctl

Encrypted Volumes

This guide will give you an overview of how to use the encryption feature for Portworx volumes. Under the hood, Portworx uses the libgcrypt library to interface with the dm-crypt module for creating, accessing and managing encrypted devices. Portworx uses the LUKS format of dm-crypt and AES-256 as the cipher with xts-plain64 as the cipher mode.

All encrypted volumes are protected by a passphrase. Portworx uses this passphrase to encrypt the volume data at rest as well as in transit. It is recommended to store these passphrases in a secure secret store.

There are two ways in which you can provide the passphrase to Portworx:

  1. Per volume secret: Use a unique secret for each encrypted volume

  2. Cluster-wide secret: Use a default common secret for all encrypted volumes

To know more about the supported secret providers and how to configure them with Portworx, refer to the Setup Secrets Provider page.

Creating and using encrypted volumes

Using a cluster-wide secret key

A cluster-wide secret key is basically a key-value pair where the value part is the secret that Portworx uses as a passphrase to encrypt all your volumes.


Make sure the cluster-wide secret key is set when you are setting up Portworx with one of the supported secret endpoints.

Let's look at an example where we want to create and mount an encrypted volume that uses a cluster-wide secret key:

The first step is to create a new volume. Let's make it encrypted with the --secure flag:

/opt/pwx/bin/pxctl volume create --secure --size 10 encrypted_volume
Volume successfully created: 822124500500459627

Just to make sure our new encrypted volume was created, try running the following command:

pxctl volume list
822124500500459627 encrypted_volume 10 GiB 1 no yes LOW 1 up - detached

Next, you can attach the volume:

pxctl host attach encrypted_volume
Volume successfully attached at: /dev/mapper/pxd-enc822124500500459627

We're almost done. Let's mount the volume by running the following command:

pxctl host mount encrypted_volume /mnt
Volume encrypted_volume successfully mounted at /mnt

So, if a cluster-wide secret key is set, Portworx will use it as the default key for encryption. In the next section, you will learn how to specify per volume keys.

Using per volume secret keys

As mentioned, you can encrypt volumes using unique keys instead of the cluster-wide secret key. However, you are required to specify the key every time you create or attach a new volume.

Let's look at a simple example. First, we'll run pxctl volume create with the --secret_key flag like this:

pxctl volume create --secure --secret_key key1 enc_vol
Volume successfully created: 374663852714325215

Next, mount the enc_vol volume into the mnt directory as follows:

docker run --rm -it -v secret_key=key1,name=enc_vol:/mnt

You can get the same result by typing:

docker run --rm -it --mount src=secret_key=key1,name=enc_vol,dst=/mnt

Before running the above commands, make sure the secret key1 exists in the secret endpoint.

Encrypted Sharedv4 Volumes

With Portworx, you can create encrypted sharedv4 volumes that can be accessed from multiple nodes.

The --sharedv4 flag is used to indicate that we would want to share an encrypted volume:

pxctl volume create --sharedv4 --secure --size 10 encrypted_volume
Encrypted Shared volume successfully created: 77957787758406722

Try inspecting our new volume:

pxctl volume inspect encrypted_volume
Volume  :  77957787758406722
Name : encrypted_volume
Size : 10 GiB
Format : ext4
HA : 1
IO Priority : LOW
Creation time : Nov 1 17:22:59 UTC 2018
Shared : yes
Status : up
State : detached
Attributes : encrypted
Reads : 0
Reads MS : 0
Bytes Read : 0
Writes : 0
Writes MS : 0
Bytes Written : 0
IOs in progress : 0
Bytes used : 131 MiB
Replica sets on nodes:
Set 0
Node : X.X.X.11 (Pool 0)
Replication Status : Detached

You can enable or disable sharing during runtime by passing the --sharedv4 on/off flag.

Note that volumes must be detached to toggle the sharedv4 flag during run-time.

The Portworx cluster must be authenticated to access the secret store for the encryption keys.

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