Re: TPM2 Support in bootloader / kernel in order to retrieve GELI passphrase

From: Stanislaw Adaszewski <>
Date: Sat, 27 Nov 2021 20:35:32 UTC
Hi Warner,

Thanks a lot for the quick reaction - that helps. Accordingly,
I have taken several actions (below). If you have any more tips
how to push this forward, please let me know. Like I don't know
is there a person formally responsible for this kind of
contributions? Let's say when you are happy with the general
architecture of the solution and the quality of the code
(it still requires some polishing) - is that enough to pull
the changes into the codebase? How does that work?
Thank you in advance!

1. I have rebased my changeset on top of the tip of the
FreeBSD's main branch [1]

2. I have changed the /.passphrase_marker convention to hold
(instead of the passphrase) a human-readable lower-case digest
of SHA256(salt | passphrase) where salt is a new (optional)
parameter which can be passed using another EFI variable:

I think it is more for the peace of mind than anything else,
as anyone having access to /.passphrase_marker would normally
have to be the root user. Nevertheless it is perhaps nicer not
to keep raw passphrases laying around in files.

We still pass the passphrase to the kernel via a kernel variable
kern.geom.eli.passphrase.from_tpm2.passphrase which is unset
before the system becomes interactive. I could be easily
passing the hash computed by the bootloader instead - what do
you think?

One thing to keep in mind is that another kernel variable -
kern.geom.eli.passphrase has been passed around like this
as well and it is being unset precisely in init_main.c.

But even more importantly, one has to keep in mind that
geli_export_key_buffer() passes all GELI keys to the kernel
anyway, so access to the encrypted drives is already possible
by that alone. Not to mention that the root user can simply
read the driver's master key with a simple geli show.

3) As an explanation, also to @Ka Ho Ng, the /.passphrase_marker
serves only as a tag to allow to reliably pair a boot filesystem
to the keyphrase retrieved from the TPM. If we were to just
retrieve the passphrase and pass it to any boot environment then
one would simply boot another OS with another root password and
could read all our secrets. The same goes for the root filesystem
that is mounted in turn by the kernel. If one would for example
remove the boot drive - that would cause the kernel to drop out
to interactive mountfrom> prompt and then one could for example
boot from another drive. That is unacceptable. Kernel is by default
very "boot happy" - it tries really hard to boot SOMETHING rather
than accept a strict specification of what is allowed to boot.

4) The code is fully functional and I have tested it quite a bit
on a Zotac CI622 mini-PC with the latest BIOS update which enables
the TPM functionality on the Intel 10110U process in there. If you
have a TPM-capable BIOS and CPU, I would encourage you to try, like
this you will understand better how it works and that the design is
necessary like it is with the /.passphrase_marker. I am not 100% sure
if there are no ways left to fool the system to boot or run some
arbitrary code. Such attacks would generally consist of causing some
kind of errors on the "trusted" UFS-on-GELI or ZFS-on-GELI systems and
making the system drop out into some kind of interactive prompts. I
hope that does not happen. For example if one removes the drive during init.
I would certainly expect that no process drops out to interactive prompts
on a system with a root password set bit this kind of scares is
a tradeoff of not using full VERIEXEC. It is however very convenient
to say - just trust everything on the XXX-on-GELI since this was encrypted
and therefore tampering-proof. More tests are necessary but also - VERIEXEC
can be enabled in addition to that to ensure that such weird scenarios do not

5) @Ka Ho Ng what you said is taking place clearly, the code relies on a PCR
policy of user's choice and uses that to read the passphrase.

6) Regarding ZFS encryption I am not sure if that is supported in the EFI
bootloader - at first glance I would say that it isn't. With that said,
the code can be used to further modify the loader to read any kind of
values stored in the TPM and put them in kernel variables for later use
in the boot process. Just a big WARNING, kenv seems to let even lusers to read
the variables. So whatever one would do with them, it would have to be done
quickly and the variables would need to be discarded before letting
the lusers log in.


Kind regards,


On Sat, 27 Nov 2021 at 18:00, Warner Losh <> wrote:
> On Sat, Nov 27, 2021, 7:36 AM Stanislaw Adaszewski <> wrote:
>> Dear All,
>> Could you please guide me so that we can together integrate
>> the following piece of work into the FreeBSD base system?
>> Thank you for your time and consideration.
> See below for some advice.
>> I have created the following bundle of work [1]. The referenced
>> patch implements on top of releng/13.0, the support for TPM2
>> in the EFI bootloader and in the kernel in order to allow for
>> storage and retrievel of a GELI passphrase in a TPM2 module,
>> secured with a PCR policy.
>> The way the bootloader behavior is modified is the following:
>> 1) before calling efipart_inithandles() an attempt to retrieve the
>> passphrase from a TPM2 module might be performed -
>> how this is achieved is described later on.
>> 2) if a passphrase is indeed retrieved, then after determining
>> currdev, the currdev is checked for the presence of a
>> /.passphrase_marker file which must contain the same passphrase
>> as retrieved from the TPM. This is supposed to ensure that we
>> do not end up booting an environment not on the device we just
>> unlocked with the passphrase.
>> 3a) If all is go, the autoboot_delay is set to -1 in order to prevent
>> any interaction and continue the boot process of the "safe" environment,
>> a 'kern.geom.eli.passphrase.from_tpm2.passphrase' variable is set
>> to the passphrase from TPM in order for kernel use later, as well as a
>> kern.geom.eli.passphrase.from_tpm2.was_retrieved'='1' variable.
>> 3b) If the passphrase marker does not match, the bootloader cleans up
>> GELI keys, the TPM passphrase and kern.geom.eli.passphrase and exits.
> I worry about information disclosure having the pass phrase available on the running system with this setup. Can you explain why that design point was selected? Usually there is something signed with a private key that the public key can be used to verify instead of a direct comparison like this to prevent disclosure of key material. I've not looked at the code yet, so it may already do this...
>> The way the kernel behavior is modified is the following:
>> 1) In init_main.c, after vfs_mountroot() a check is added
>> 2a) If kern.geom.eli.passphrase.from_tpm2.was_retrieved is not
>> set to 1, then we do nothing and continue the boot process
>> 2b) If the was_retrieved variable is set to '1' then we check for the
>> same passphrase marker as the bootloader, its content compared
>> against the 'kern.geom.eli.passphrase.from_tpm2.passphrase'
>> variable.
>> 3a) If all is go, the passphrase variable is unset and the boot process
>> continues,
>> 3c) If the passphrase marker does not match, we panic.
> I'm sure that main_init should not know about geom or geli. This is usually done with a handler of some sort so the mountroot code can just call the generic handler. Can your code be restructured such that this is possible?  The reason I ask is that ZFS supports encryption too and it would be nice to use that instead of geli.
>> The configuration of the bootloader for this procedure looks the following:
>> 1) We set an efivar KernGeomEliPassphraseFromTpm2NvIndex
>> to contain the TPM2 NV Index we store our passphrase in, e.g. 0x1000001
>> 2) We set an efivar KernGeomEfiPassphraseFromTpm2PolicyPcr
>> to contain the PCR policy used to secure the passphrase, e.g.
>> sha256:0,2,4,7
>> 3a) If both are set, the bootloader will attempt to retrieve the passphrase
>> and behave in the modified way described above
>> 3b) Otherwise, it behaves as the vanilla version and will ask for GELI
>> passphrases if necessary
>> The configuration of the TPM and the passphrase marker looks the following:
>> 1) echo -n "passphrase" >/.passphrase_marker
>> 2) chmod 600 /.passphrase_marker
>> 3) tpm2_createpolicy -L policy.digest --policy-pcr -l sha256:0,2,4,7
>> 4) tpm2_nvdefine -Q 0x1000001 -s `wc -c /.passphrase_marker` -L
>> policy.digest -A "policyread|policywrite"
>> 5) tpm2_nvwrite -Q 0x1000001 -i /.passphrase_marker -P pcr:sha256:0,2,4,7
>> [1]
> This sounds cool. Any chance you can rebase this to the tip of the main branch? All code goes into FreeBSD that way and 13.0 is about a year old already.
> Thanks for sharing this. Despite some reservations expressed above, I think this has potential to be quite cool.
> Warner
>> Kind regards,