Integrated Backup Encryption

These topics provide information about Integrated Backup Encryption.

Although it is possible to encrypt backups since version 11.10.xC1 using Backup Filters, the process of setting up encryption keys and keeping track of all the elements necessary for the encryption and decryption of backups is neither short or easy, and so, the Backup filter functionally has been mostly relegated to compress/decompress backups, which can be achieved more easily.

Note: Encrypting backups is risky. If you misplace your encryption key or delete a remote master encryption key, you can render any number of backups unusable. If you misplace the encryption key for a backup or lose access to the Remote Master Key, there is no way for anybody, including technical support, to restore those backups, they are lost forever.

Although there is a way to encrypt the backups using a local encryption key provided by the operator, Integrated backup Encryption was designed to work mainly with Remote Key Servers because they offer the flexibility and reliability needed to minimized the likelihood of rendering backups unusable due misplaced/missing encryption keys.

Integrated Backup Encryption does not reuse the encryption keys used for Storage Space Encryption. When a backup is performed, the engine decrypts the pages before sending them to the backup client and the On-Bar/ontape utilities receive a stream of unencrypted pages.

The backup client then generates an encryption key called Backup Encryption Key (Depending on the capabilities of the RKS, the backup encryption key can be generated locally, or at the RKS). The backup encryption key is then used to encrypt the backup data.

The backup client also encrypts the backup encryption key using a Remote Master Encryption Key (RMEK) to generate an Encrypted Backup Encryption Key (EBEK) and stores the identification of the Remote Master Key, the Encrypted Backup Encryption Key, and other relevant information necessary to decrypt the data in a structure called the Encryption Envelope (envelope for simplicity). The envelope structure is stored together with the encrypted backup data and therefore it is impossible to lose or misplace the backup encryption key since it is always stored together with the data that it protects.

As long as there is access to the RKS and the Remote Master Encryption Key is not deactivated, the backup will be decryptable.

The process of encrypting a backup, as already described above, requires the generation of a backup encryption key for each backup session. All backup objects generated in that session will share the same BEK (For On-Bar, this means that each storage space and log file backed up will share the same BEK.).

Depending on the capabilities of the RKS, there are two ways in which this BEK can be generated:
  • Method 1: The RKS is capable of generating symmetric encryption keys. In this case the RKS will generate the BEK and provide the backup client with both the BEK and the product of encrypting the BEK with the Remote Master Encryption Key (EBEK).
Figure 1: Method 1 to generate BEK

This figure shows method 1 to generate BEK.

Method 2:If the Remote Key Server does not support the creation of symmetric encryption keys, the BEK is locally generated, the BEK is then transferred to the RKS where it is encrypted using the RMEK, then RKS returns the EBEK to generate the encryption envelope.
Figure 2: Method 2 to generate BEK

This figure shows method 2 to generate BEK.

Note: In both methods, it is necessary that the RKS has cryptographic capabilities, meaning that the RKS has to be capable of encrypting and decrypting data using the RMEK. If the RKS is not capable of providing cryptographic operations (which is the case of some KMIP-enabled servers) it is not possible to use Integrated Backup Encryption with that server. This is done to minimize the risk of key exposure/leakage (since the RMEK never leaves the RKS, the chances of compromising the key are minimized).
Once the BEK is generated and the backup client has the RMEK Id, the BEK, and the EBEK, it can generate the encryption envelope, encrypt the backup data and send the encrypted data to the backup medium/server.
Figure 3: Backup Encryption

This figure shows Integrated Backup Encryption.

The BAR_ENCRYPTION configuration parameter

In order to use Integrated Backup Encryption, you must setup either a local key file or access to a remote keys server. Then you need to set the BAR_ENCRYPTION configuration parameter to let know the backup client that you want to use Integrated Backup Encryption and which method you want to use.