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Disk Encryption on a Hetzner Dedicated Server

This should be a clean step-by-step guide how to setup a hetzner root server from the server auctions at hetzners "serverbörse" to get a fully encrypted software raid1 with lvm on top.

The goal of this guide is to have a server system that has encrypted drives and is remotely unlockable.

This guide could work at any other provider with a rescue system.

Hardware setup

"Dedicated Root Server SB36" - Intel Xeon E3-1246V3 - 2x HDD SATA 2,0 TB Enterprise (or any nvme drives with swraid) - 4x RAM 8192 MB DDR3

First steps in rescue image

  • Boot to the rescue system via hetzners server management page
  • install a minimal Ubuntu 18.04 LTS or 20.04 LTS with hetzners "installimage" skript (
  • I chose the following logical volumes on my system to keep it simple:
PART /boot ext3 512M
PART lvm vg0 all

LV vg0 home /home ext4 60G
LV vg0 log /log ext4 30G
LV vg0 swap swap swap 10G
LV vg0 root / ext4 1000G
  • after you adjusted all parameters in the install config file, press F10 to install the ubuntu minimal system
  • reboot and ssh into your fresh installed ubuntu

First steps on your fresh ubuntu installation

  • connect via ssh-key you choosed before for the rescue image (attention to the .ssh/known_hosts file..)
  • install required packages
  • apt update && apt install busybox dropbear lvm2 vim cryptsetup-initramfs dropbear-initramfs
  • Create a new ssh key for unlocking your encrypted volumes when it is rebooting LOCALLY
  • ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -f .ssh/dropbear
  • Create the needed folders for dropbear keys
  • mkdir -p /etc/initramfs-tools/root/.ssh/
  • vi /etc/dropbear-initramfs/authorized_keys
  • Paste your local pub key .ssh/ in there
  • reboot again to the rescue system via the hetzner webinterface

Rescue image the second

This steps should be done after the initial md replication (get the progress with cat /proc/mdstat)

You can speed up the replication on SSD servers by typing:

echo 5000000 > /proc/sys/dev/raid/speed_limit_max

If you can not find anything in /dev/mapper/* you will have to activate the volumes first. lvm vgscan -v

Activate all volume groups: lvm vgchange -a y

We now rsync our installation into the new encrypted drives

  • mkdir /oldroot/
  • mount /dev/mapper/vg0-root /mnt/
  • mount /dev/mapper/vg0-home /mnt/home
  • mount /dev/mapper/vg0-log /mnt/var/log
  • rsync -a /mnt/ /oldroot/ (this could take a while)
  • umount /mnt/home/
  • umount /mnt/var/log/
  • umount /mnt/

Backup your old vg0 configuration to keep things simple and remove the old volume group:

  • vgcfgbackup vg0 -f vg0.freespace
  • vgremove vg0

After this, we encrypt our raid 1 now. - cryptsetup --cipher aes-xts-plain64 --key-size 256 --hash sha256 --iter-time 6000 luksFormat /dev/md1 (!!!Choose a strong passphrase (something like pwgen 64 1)!!!) - cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/md1 cryptroot - now create the physical volume on your mapper: - pvcreate /dev/mapper/cryptroot

We have now to edit your vg0 backup: - blkid /dev/mapper/cryptroot Results in: /dev/mapper/cryptroot: UUID="HEZqC9-zqfG-HTFC-PK1b-Qd2I-YxVa-QJt7xQ" - cp vg0.freespace /etc/lvm/backup/vg0

Now edit the id (UUID from above) and device (/dev/mapper/cryptroot) properties nested at vg0 > physical_volumes > pv0 in the file according to our installation - vi /etc/lvm/backup/vg0 - Restore the vgconfig: vgcfgrestore vg0 - Resize PV to the new size: pvresize /dev/mapper/cryptroot - vgchange -a y vg0

Ok, the filesystem is missing, lets create it:

  • mkfs.ext4 /dev/vg0/root
  • mkfs.ext4 /dev/vg0/log
  • mkfs.ext4 /dev/vg0/home
  • mkswap /dev/vg0/swap

Now we mount and copy our installation back on the new lvs:

  • mount /dev/vg0/root /mnt/
  • mkdir /mnt/home /mnt/var /mnt/var/log
  • mount /dev/vg0/log /mnt/var/log/
  • mount /dev/vg0/home /mnt/home
  • rsync -a /oldroot/ /mnt/

Some changes to your existing linux installation

Lets mount some special filesystems for chroot usage: - mount /dev/md0 /mnt/boot - mount --bind /dev /mnt/dev - mount --bind /sys /mnt/sys - mount --bind /proc /mnt/proc - chroot /mnt

To let the system know there is a new crypto device we need to edit the cryptab(/etc/crypttab): - vi /etc/crypttab - copy the following line in there: cryptroot /dev/md1 none luks

Regenerate the initramfs: - update-initramfs -u - update-grub - grub-install /dev/sda (or grub-install /dev/nvme0n1 if you use nvme) - grub-install /dev/sdb (or grub-install /dev/nvme1n1 if you use nvme)

Time for our first reboot.. fingers crossed!

  • exit
  • umount /mnt/boot /mnt/home /mnt/var/log /mnt/proc /mnt/sys /mnt/dev
  • umount /mnt
  • sync
  • reboot

After a few seconds the dropbear ssh server is coming up on your system, connect to it and unlock your system like this:

  • ssh -i .ssh/dropbear root@<yourserverip>
  • a busybox shell should come up
  • unlock your lvm drive with:
  • echo -ne "<yourstrongpassphrase>" > /lib/cryptsetup/passfifo

Optional steps

You can further secure dropbear by changing its port and disabling unnecessary features: - vi /etc/dropbear-initramfs/config - add the line DROPBEAR_OPTIONS="-p 2222 -s -j -k -I 30" - update-initramfs -u

This makes dropbear to listen to port 2222 instead of 22, -s disables password logins, -j -k disables port forwarding, -I 30 sets the idle timeout to 30 seconds.

Additionally you can alter the authorized_keys file to show the cryptsetup password prompt directly instead of the busybox prompt (and disable further unnecessary SSH features): - vi /etc/dropbear-initramfs/authorized_keys - alter your public key like this: no-port-forwarding,no-agent-forwarding,no-X11-forwarding,command="/bin/cryptroot-unlock" ssh-rsa ... - update-initramfs -u

Reboot you server and unlock your system using - ssh -p 2222 -i .ssh/dropbear root@<yourserverip>

Now, the whole SSH session looks really neat (and your password is not shown while entering):

Please unlock disk cryptroot (/dev/md1):
cryptsetup: cryptroot set up successfully
Connection to <yourserverip> closed.