Encrypted Storage

Cross Project Spec - None

User Story Tracker - None

Problem Description

Problem Definition

Enterprises typically have their own data classification strategies. The types of data stored typically include (but are not limited to): financial, personal, health, and confidential business data. Some enterprises (especially finance and health care industries) have stringent data requirements in order to be compliant with regional law and regulations.

For example, PCI DSS Requirement 3.4 states that credit card payment details must be rendered unreadable anywhere they are persistently stored (including portable digital media, backup media and logs). Applications (including database back-ends) that interact with these classes of data need to be able to specify encrypted storage requirements when an application is launched and interacts with some of these data classes. The data must be encrypted both in flight as well as at rest. The application should not require administrative privileges to specify or access encrypted storage.

In addition, proper key management processes need to be in place. The keys used to encrypt/decrypt the data must be rotated on a regular basis and the access of keys are restricted to authorized personnel only.



Requirements Specification

Use Cases

  • As the Enterprise IT Manager, I must ensure the appropriate security for the HR Department database containing employee records that services several applications. I would like to migrate the database into our company’s OpenStack private cloud so that I do not need to maintain the system it currently resides on. However, because of the sensitive nature of the information in the database our company policy does not allow this information to reside on any shared system in an unencrypted form. To be able to move the database into the private cloud I need to ensure that the persistently stored data and all data in flight to/from the instance is encrypted. While the HR Department would like to have improved uptime for their database, they are used to having to manually restart/reboot as needed and can live with this in the cloud as well.
  • I am the Enterprise IT manager for an insurance company. My company maintains a database with insurer’s credit card records for annual renewal purposes. Our company would like to move the database into our OpenStack private cloud. In order to comply with company data classification policy, government law and financial regulations, I need to ensure that information stored in the private cloud (including backups) is encrypted in flight and at rest, and that keys used to encrypt the data are rotated annually.

Usage Scenarios Examples



  • A block & object storage solution that enables encryption/decryption at the instance source
  • A block & object storage solution that enables encryption/decryption for data at rest
  • A method for the application to specify that it requires a block storage system that includes encryption/decryption at the instance
  • A method for rotating the key used to encrypt/decrypt the data after a specific period of time
  • OpenStack services to enforce the storage requirements for the application
  • The application needs to be able to specify that it requires an encrypted storage system that supports either or both encryption/decryption at the instance, in addition to at rest.

External References



Cinder issues: * The storage encryption functionality exists, but requires admin status. Creating encrypted volumes should not require admin status. * Encryption keys are set at creation time, however it is not clear how to rotate the key(s), once a volume is in use. Rotating keys is a requirement of many data storage standards.

Swift issues: * At present an application is responsible for encrypting Objects prior to calling a PUT operation, swift will store any object that is in the PUT request. Swift should reject object PUTs that are tagged to be encrypted by the application. * Development of a data at rest solution is currently under development, however, this does not solve for in flight data.

Affected By

  • At the Hong Kong summit there was a talk on barbican/cinder/nova for this type of functionality. Don’t know if it was successfully integrated into OpenStack yet.
  • There is a volume encryption spec for some early work and the current documentation implies that admin privilege is required.
  • There is an object encryption spec which documents the approach for object encryption (at rest).

Rejected User Stories / Usage Scenarios



  • Data in Flight - Data in transit between an instance and storage system
  • Data at Rest - Data stored persistently on a storage system