Disk Encryption

Applies to the Jetson AGX Xavier series, the Jetson Xavier NX series, the Jetson AGX Orin, the Jetson Orin NX series, and the Jetson Orin Nano series.

Disk encryption encrypts a whole disk or partition to protect the data it contains. NVIDIA® Jetson™ Linux offers disk encryption that is based on Linux Unified Key Setup (LUKS) Data-at-rest encryption, the standard for Linux disk encryption. It provides a standard disk format that stores all necessary setup information on the disk itself, in the partition header. The passphrase in the Jetson OP-TEE luks-srv Trusted Application (TA) supports disk encryption functionality with one-time passphrase generation during boot time to unlock the encrypted disk.

Setup Preparation

Jetson Linux uses cryptsetup, a LUKS user space command line utility, to set up and unlock an encrypted disk. It uses the DMCrypt kernel module as its backend. The utility sets up the encrypted disk as a LUKS partition and configures it with a passphrase.

The DMCrypt kernel module is the standard device-mapper interface for encryption functionality in the Linux kernel. It sits between the disk driver and the file system, where it encrypts and decrypts data blocks transparently.

For more information about cryptsetup and DMCrypt, see the cryptsetup project and the DMCrypt documentation, both hosted by GitLab.

Details of Operation

Two types of keys are used for disk encryption:

  • The master key, also known as the Disk Encryption Key (DEK). This key is used for data encryption or decryption when data is transferred between the file system and the disk.

    The master key is generated by cryptsetup. The default and recommended source for data used to generate the key is /dev/random. The key resides in the LUKS header, and is encrypted by the key derived from the passphrase.

  • The passphrase or password is an input string or pattern supplied by the user to set up disk encryption and lock the disk. The same input is used to decrypt and unlock data stored on the disk.

The passphrase is generated with help from two applications:

  • luks-srv: A trusted application (TA) that utilizes the key generating service from jetson_user_key_pta. Using that service it can derive a LUKS key, which is the root key for deriving the passphrase.

    This block shows the service interfaces provided by luks-srv:

     * Each trusted app UUID should have a unique UUID that is
     * generated from a UUID generator such as
     * https://www.uuidgenerator.net/
     * UUID : {b83d14a8-7128-49df-9624-35f14f65ca6c}
     #define LUKS_SRV_TA_UUID \
             { 0xb83d14a8, 0x7128, 0x49df, \
                 { 0x96, 0x24, 0x35, 0xf1, 0x4f, 0x65, 0xca, 0x6c } }
    #define LUKS_SRV_CONTEXT_STR_LEN        40
    #define LUKS_SRV_PASSPHRASE_LEN         16
     * LUKS_SRV_TA_CMD_GET_UNIQUE_PASS - Get unique passphrase
     * param[0] in (memref) context string, length
     * param[1] out (memref) passphrase, size
     * param[2] unused
     * param[3] unused
    #define LUKS_SRV_TA_CMD_GET_UNIQUE_PASS         0
     * LUKS_SRV_TA_CMD_SRV_DOWN - Turn off the service
     * param[0] unused
     * param[1] unused
     * param[2] unused
     * param[3] unused
    #define LUKS_SRV_TA_CMD_SRV_DOWN                1
  • nvluks-srv-app: A Client Application (CA) in the normal (non-secure) world that communicates with luks-srv to retrieve the passphrase. cryptsetup uses the passphrase to unlock the encrypted disk.

The cryptographic algorithm used for disk encryption is AES-XTS, with a key length of 256 bits. This mode of operation makes the encrypted data look completely random, minimizing the potential for attack. The entire key derivation process is performed in the secure world.

The following diagram outlines the overall process:

The luks-srv service working model
  1. The nvluks-srv-app CA queries the per-device unique passphrase via the command interface LUKS_SRV_TA_CMD_GET_UNIQUE_PASS.

  2. When the luks-srv TA receives the command, it sends a request to jetson_user_key_pta to generate a per-device unique LUKS key. jetson_user_key_pta uses the NIST-SP 800-108 KDF to derive a new key from the EKB disk encryption key.

    The KDF’s input parameters are the fixed label string "luks-srv-ecid" and the ECID as the context string.

  3. The TA uses the LUKS key to generate a passphrase. The passphrase is generated with the same KDF as the LUKS key.

    The KDF’s context string parameter is the disk UUID, so no user interaction is needed to create the encrypted disk image or to unlock it at boot time. The fixed label string is "luks-srv-passphrase-unique".

  4. The TA returns the output passphrase.

  5. Send the LUKS_SRV_TA_CMD_SRV_DOWN command to shut the service down. This ensures that passphrase generation is done only once.

The generation process uses this key derivation function (KDF) to generate a per-device unique LUKS key or a generic key:

key = NIST-SP-800-108(inkey, labelstring, contextstring)


  • NIST-SP-800-108 is a key derivation function (KDF) recommended by the National Institute of Standards and Technology algorithm for key derivation using pseudorandom functions..

  • in-key is the key source used to derive a new key.

  • label-string identifies the purpose of the key to be generated. In the reference implementation label-string is a fixed value defined by the TA.

  • context-string is a string that contains information related to the derived key, and which the KDF uses as a parameter for key generation. In the reference implementation the default context string is the disk’s UUID, but you can change this by modifying the TA.

To unlock the encrypted disk with nvluks-srv-app, enter these commands:

# Using "cryptsetup" and "nvluks-srv-app" to unlock the encrypted device:
nvluks-srv-app --context-string "${DISK_UUID}" --get-unique-pass | cryptsetup -c \
     luksOpen <luks_device> <DM_name>


  • <luks_device> is the device name of the encrypted disk, e.g. /dev/mmcblk1.

  • <DM_name> is the mapping name after the encrypted disk is unlocked, for example, /dev/mapper/DM_name.

See Basic Flashing Script Usage in Flashing Support for more information.


To prevent any form of attack from extracting the passphrase at boot time (e.g. in the initrd), use the command type LUKS_SRV_TA_CMD_SRV_DOWN. This command instructs luks-srv not to respond to a LUKS_GET command (to get the passphrase) until reboot. This step is crucial to ensure the security of your design.

The Threat Model

The purpose of disk encryption is to prevent an attack from stealing or tampering with data on the disk. Even if the disk is physically unmounted (or, in the case of an internal device such as an eMMC, is removed from the device), the data cannot be exposed.

Disk encryption cannot protect against the following types of threat:

  • A background process or daemon that has a security hole. An attacker may be able to use the hole to gain control of the process and access the disk.

  • Theft or leakage of the login ID and password. An attacker can use these credentials to log in to the device and access the disk.

Disk Encryption Implementation in Jetson Linux

Jetson Linux provides a reference implementation of disk encryption which fulfills the security requirements of many use cases. If your use case’s requirements are different, you can modify it or use it as a model for implementing your own.

Layout of an Encrypted Disk

Because Bootloader cannot read encrypted files, disk encryption requires Jetson Linux to divide a “naive” system’s APP partition in two:

  • The unencrypted APP partition contains the /boot branch of the file system, including the kernel, DTB, and initrd images.

  • A new, encrypted APP_ENC partition contains the rest of the file system.

Following is an example of the APP partition definition for a system on which disk encryption is not enabled. You can find a definition like this one in the Jetson Linux BSP partition configuration files, e.g. Linux_for_Tegra/‌bootloader/‌t186ref/cfg/‌flash_t194_sdmmc.xml for an NVIDIA® Jetson AGX Xavier™ series device booting from SDMMC memory:

<partition name="APP" type="data">
    <allocation_policy> sequential </allocation_policy>
    <filesystem_type> basic </filesystem_type>
    <size> APPSIZE </size>
    <file_system_attribute> 0 </file_system_attribute>
    <allocation_attribute> 0x8 </allocation_attribute>
    <align_boundary> 4096 </align_boundary>
    <percent_reserved> 0 </percent_reserved>
    <filename> APPFILE </filename>
    <unique_guid> APPUUID </unique_guid>
        **Required.** Contains the rootfs. This partition must be defined after
        ``primary_GPT`` so that it can be accessed as the fixed known special device

The following example shows how disk encryption separates APP into two partitions. (Each partition’s differences from the preceding example are highlighted in red, but the elements in the definitions are the same.) You can find the file in the Jetson Linux BSP, for example, Linux_for_Tegra/‌bootloader/t186ref/cfg/flash_t194_sdmmc_enc_rfs.xml for the device mentioned above:

<partition name="APP" type="data">
    <allocation_policy> sequential </allocation_policy>
    <filesystem_type> basic </filesystem_type>
    <size> 104857600 </size>
    <file_system_attribute> 0 </file_system_attribute>
    <allocation_attribute> 0x8 </allocation_attribute>
    <align_boundary> 4096 </align_boundary>
    <percent_reserved> 0 </percent_reserved>
    <filename> system_boot.img </filename>
    <unique_guid> APPUUID </unique_guid>
        **Required.** Contains the boot partition. This partition must be
        defined after ``primary_GPT`` so that it can be accessed as the fixed
        known special device ``/dev/mmcblk0p1``.

    <partition name="APP_ENC" type="data" encrypted="true">
    <allocation_policy> sequential </allocation_policy>
    <filesystem_type> basic </filesystem_type>
    <size> APP_ENC_SIZE </size>
    <file_system_attribute> 0 </file_system_attribute>
    <allocation_attribute> 0x8 </allocation_attribute>
    <align_boundary> 4096 </align_boundary>
    <percent_reserved> 0 </percent_reserved>
    <filename> system_root_encrypted.img </filename>
    <unique_guid> APP_ENC_UUID </unique_guid>
        **Required.** Contains the encrypted root partition.

Notice that the <size> element of APP specifies an actual number, but the <size> element of APP_ENC specifies a symbol, APP_ENC_SIZE. Later, the value of APP_ENC_SIZE must be calculated by subtracting the size of APP from the total rootfs size.

Each partition’s <filename> element specifies the actual file name of the appropriate disk image (not a symbol that is resolved to the file name during flashing).

The partitions’ <unique_guid> elements specify the partitions’ UUIDs, APPUUID and APP_ENC_UUID respectively. Both symbols are translated to real UUID numbers by the image generation process.

The APP_ENC partition’s encrypted attribute indicates that the partition is encrypted.

With the new partition layout, new parameters are needed in the board configuration file to enable disk encryption and apply the new partition layout file. Use the appropriate board configuration file for your device, e,g, Linux_for_Tegra/p2972-0000.conf.common for a Jetson AGX Xavier module in a Jetson AGX Xavier Developer Kit. The disk_enc_enable setting indicates that disk encryption is enabled, and EMMC_CFG identifies the partition layout file to use:


The flash tool uses the board configuration file to generate file system images and flash them onto the device.

How to Create File System Images

When you create file system images to support booting with an encrypted disk, keep the following points in mind:

  • The bootarg kernel command line’s root parameter must use the disk’s UUID (not the partition’s UUID specified in the partition definition) to identify the root disk if the device is to boot from an encrypted root disk.

  • The crypttab file in initrd includes the mount point and the device name of the encrypted disk. It may be a real device name like /dev/mmcblk0p1 or the UUID of the disk.

  • The fstab file in the rootfs is updated with the /boot directory in the APP partition, which helps the automount process mount the partition at boot time.

Creating an Encrypted Rootfs on the Host

The rootfs is generated on the host by flash.sh. The diagram below shows the elements of the rootfs (in green), the utilities used to generate it (in gray), and the input (in blue).

How to Create an Encrypted Rootfs on the Host

The input has two parts: the plain key file of the EKB key used for disk encryption, and an input string used to generate the passphrase. By default, the input string is the UUID of the encrypted disk. You can modify the script that generates the rootfs to let user to enter their own string. You must change the initrd accordingly to make it use the user-supplied string.

You must generate the rootfs on a secure system, that is, a secure host computer equipped with a Hardware Security Module (HSM). The HSM is used for key generation and management to secure key assets and safe transport to the factory floor. This is necessary to ensure that the keys cannot be leaked to an unsecure system on the production line. flash.sh invokes two helper scripts to generate the passphrase and the disk images:

  • gen_luks_passphrase.py follows the same process as the hwkey-agent and luks-srv TAs to derive the LUKS key, and uses the key to generate the passphrase.

  • disk_encryption.sh outputs the disk images for the initrd, system_boot.img, and system_root_encrypted.img.

The Jetson Linux reference implementation only generates per-device encrypted disk images. Use it as a starting point to develop a script that is suited to your use case and production environment.

To flash the encrypted rootfs on the host with flash.sh for the Jetson AGX Xavier series and the Jetson Xavier NX series:

# The disk encryption key in the EKB partition:
$ echo "00000000000000000000000000000000" > ekb.key
$ sudo ROOTFS_ENC=1 ./flash.sh -i "./ekb.key" <board> <rootdev>

Flashing the encrypted rootfs on the host with flash.sh for the Jetson AGX Orin requires an update of the Linux_for_Tegra/bootloader/eks.img.

  1. Decompress the OP-TEE source package and run example.sh in it to generate a test EKS image(In real production scenario, you must generate your own EKS image using your own keys):

    $ cd optee/samples/hwkey-agent/host/tool/gen_ekb/
    # Take a look at example.sh and you can see the test keys
    $ ./example.sh
  2. Copy the eks_t234.img generated by example.sh to the Linux_for_Tegra/bootloader folder and overwrite the eks.img file.

The Tool for EKB Generation chapter in OP-TEE has detailed descriptions about EKS image generation.

NVIDIA strongly recommends you to generate your own keys and EKS image, the keys defined in example.sh and the EKS image it generates are only for test purpose.

  1. Use flash.sh to generate and flash the encrypted rootfs:

    # The disk encryption key in the EKB partition:
    # This key is defined in example.sh too to generate the EKS image
    $ echo "f0e0d0c0b0a001020304050607080900" > ekb.key
    $ sudo ROOTFS_ENC=1 ./flash.sh -i "./ekb.key" <board> <rootdev>


  • <board> is the value of $(BOARD) for your Jetson module and configuration, as shown in the table in the section Jetson Modules and Configurations in the topic Quick Start.

  • <rootdev> is the partition where the root file system is to be flashed.

The flash.sh command line option -i specifies the key to be used for disk encryption. The reference implementation described above uses the EKB key. NVIDIA recommends that you customize the script to use a different key source for the sake of security. The keys in the example above are only for reference and testing purposes so that you should not use them as given. When you change the key, change the EKS partition accordingly, and review the overall key and passphrase generation flow to be sure that everything works correctly.

How to Flash an Encrypted Rootfs to an External Storage Device

To flash an encrypted rootfs generated by flash.sh to an external storage device, use l4t_initrd_flash.sh (also known as “the initrd flashing tool”). (See Flashing with initrd in Flashing Support).

Following is an example of commands that use l4t_initrd_flash.sh to flash an encrypted rootfs to an NVMe SSD attached to a Jetson AGX Xavier series device:

$ cd Linux_for_Tegra
$ sudo ROOTFS_ENC=1 ./tools/kernel_flash/l4t_initrd_flash.sh --external-device nvme0n1p1 \
        -c ./tools/kernel_flash/flash_l4t_nvme_rootfs_enc.xml --external-only -S 8GiB \
        jetson-xavier external

Tools and instructions for flashing an encrypted rootfs with initrd may be found in the directory /Linux_for_Tegra/tools/kernel_flash/. For more detailed information, see README_initrd_flash.txt in that directory.

To Enhance initrd to Unlock an Encrypted Rootfs

To boot from an encrypted root file system, you need an initrd image which includes the necessary utilities (e.g. cryptsetup) and scripts to set up the root device after the kernel is initialized, but before the rest of the operating system is booted. The image must contain the APP partition, which contains the /boot branch of the rootfs (unencrypted), and the APP_ENC partition, which contains the rest of the rootfs (encrypted).

The boot flow diagram below shows that by default the Bootloader (UEFI) uses the APP partition as the boot partition.

The init script in the initrd follows these steps to check the encrypted root device, unlock it, and mount it:

  1. Verify that the root parameter specifies the same device as the root device setting in /etc/crypttab.

  2. Verify that the root device is a LUKS device.

  3. Unlock the encrypted root device with the per-device unique passphrase.

  4. Mount the root device.

  5. Command the luks-srv TA not to respond to further passphrase requests until reboot.

To modify initrd to unlock additional encrypted file systems

The file /etc/crypttab, kept in initrd, describes encrypted block devices that are set up during system boot. Each line of this file has the form:

<volume-name> UUID=<uuid>


  • <volume-name> is the name of a volume in which decrypted data is to be placed. Its block device is set up in /dev/mapper/. <volume-name> must be unique across all lines in the file.

  • <uuid> is the UUID of the underlying block device containing encrypted data.

Here are two examples of entries in /etc/crypttab:

crypt_root UUID=b5600ed6-69e7-42b8-bee3-ecfdd12649d1
crypt_UDA UUID=cf6fa01d-1127-4612-9992-2f6db77385e0

If your device has several encrypted file systems, you must add a line to /etc/crypttab for each one you want Bootloader to unlock.

This is an example of how to unlock an encrypted file system:

  1. Enter this command to find the UUID of the encrypted file system:

    $ sudo blkid | grep TYPE="crypto_LUKS"

    This command line displays a line of output for each encrypted disk that includes the disk’s UUID. Such a line looks like this:

    /dev/mmcblk0p43: UUID="5096aa4d-6590-429b-9295-a1fe041b8fa3"
  2. Unpack the initrd. For instructions, see Modifying Jetson RAM Disk in Flashing Support.

  3. Add a line to /etc/crypttab for each encrypted file system that you want to unlock at subsequent reboots. The line specifies the UUID of the file system to be unlocked, as in this example:

    crypt_fs UUID="5096aa4d-6590-429b-9295-a1fe041b8fa3"
  4. Repackage the initrd and store it in /boot, replacing the initrd that was originally there.

  5. Create a subdirectory in /mnt in which initrd can mount each unlocked file system during the initialization process. For the sake of simplicity, NVIDIA recommends giving each subdirectory the same name as the volume to be mounted there. For the volume specified in step 3, the subdirectory would be named crypt_fs:

    $ mkdir -p /mnt/crypt_fs

Bootloader unlocks your encrypted file system at each subsequent reboot.

Enabling Disk Encryption Only for UDA

Disk encryption for UDA partition only can be supported by disabling rootfs disk encryption.

To disable disk encryption on rootfs:

  1. In the layout configuration file, set the encrypted attribute of APP_ENC to false.

    Refer to Layout of an Encrypted Disk for an example of a layout configuration.

  2. To complete the process, complete the steps in How to Create an Encrypted Rootfs on the Host.


  • ROOTFS_ENC=1 is needed to enable disk encryption.

  • encrypted attribute for each partition in layout configuration file is used to enable or disable disk encryption for the partition.

Enabling Disk Encryption for Dynamically Created Partitions

To encrypt a specific partition at run time, use the /usr/sbin/gen_luks.sh tool. This tool updates the /opt/nvidia/cryptluks file in rootfs and describes dynamically encrypted block devices that are set up when the system boots.

Here is an example that shows you how to use this tool to dynamically encrypt /dev/mmcblk0p16:

  1. To find the the device that needs to be encrypted, run the following command:

    $ sudo blkid

    This command displays and selects the device you want to encrypt. For example:

    /dev/mmcblk0p16: PARTLABEL="DATA" PARTUUID="1dd895ca-8815-4069-8966-9f796259c13c"


    Ensure that you back up all your data on this device, because the data will be wiped out after disk encryption is enabled.

  2. To create an encrypted partition crypt_DATA from /dev/mmcblk0p16, run gen_luks.sh:

    $ sudo gen_luks.sh /dev/mmcblk0p16 crypt_DATA
  3. When gen_luks.sh prompts you about continuing this process and wiping out all data on /dev/mmcblk0p16, select one of the following options:

    - **YES**: formats ``/dev/mmcblk0p16``.
    - If you do not enter **YES**, the process is stopped.
  4. When gen_luks.sh prompts you about using ext4 as the file system type for the encrypted partition crypt_DATA, select one of the following options:

    • YES: formats /dev/mmcblk0p16.

    • If you do not enter YES, formats /mnt/crypt_DATA to any file system type you want after rebooting the device.

  5. To complete the encrypting process for /dev/mmcblk0p16, when prompted to reboot the system, select one of the following options:

    • YES: reboots the system and the encrypted device is created at /dev/mapper/crypt_DATA.

    • If you do not enter YES, the system reboots to enable disk encryption for this partition.

  6. After device reboots, /dev/mapper/crypt_DATA is created, unlocked, and mounted at /mnt/crypt_DATA.

Modifying /opt/nvidia/cryptluks to Unlock Previously Created and Encrypted File Systems

Each line of /opt/nvidia/cryptluks has the following form:

<device-name> <volume-name> UUID=<uuid> <file-system-type>


  • <device-name> is the device name of the encrypted disk, for example, /dev/mmcblk0p16. This name must be unique across all lines in the file.

  • <volume-name> is the name of a volume in which decrypted data is to be placed. Its block device is set up in /dev/mapper/. This name must be unique across all lines in the file.

    • <uuid> is the UUID of the underlying block device that contains the encrypted data.

  • <file-system-type> is the Linux file system type of this encrypted device. To automatically format and mount the encrypted device, only ext4 is supported in initrd.

Here is an example of an entry in /opt/nvidia/cryptluks:

/dev/mmcblk0p16 crypt_DATA UUID=4fb81966-a146-4626-aa14-c221d7715349 ext4

If /opt/nvidia/cryptluks is lost, complete the following steps to recover it:

  1. To find the UUID of the encrypted file system, run the following command:

    $ sudo blkid | grep TYPE="crypto_LUKS"

    This command line displays a line of output for each encrypted disk that includes the disk’s UUID. Here is an example:

    /dev/mmcblk0p16: UUID="4fb81966-a146-4626-aa14-c221d7715349"
  2. Add a line to /opt/nvidia/cryptluks for each dynamically encrypted file system that you want to unlock at subsequent reboots. The line specifies the UUID of the file system to be unlocked, for example:

    /dev/mmcblk0p16 crypt_DATA UUID=4fb81966-a146-4626-aa14-c221d7715349 ext4


    You can always use ext4 for the last field. When the encrypted disk has been previous unlocked and mounted successfully, ext4 is not used.

  3. Reboot the device. The encrypted disk will be unlocked and mounted at /mnt/crypt_DATA.


The following diagram shows the overall flow of the encrypted disk unlocking process.

The encrypted disk unlocking process

The steps of the process are:

  1. nvluks-srv-app queries the hardware-based passphrase from the Trusty luks-srv TA and pass it to the cryptsetup utility.

  2. cryptsetup unlocks the disk and decrypts the disk encryption key (DEK) with the passphrase.

  3. cryptsetup invokes the DMCrypt kernel module and loads the key into the kernel. DMCrypt uses the tegra-crypto driver, which uses Security Engine (SE) hardware for data encryption and decryption.

  4. Subsequent disk I/O is routed through DMCrypt, which decrypts and encrypts data as it reads and writes.

Manufacturing process

The following diagram illustrates the post-development manufacturing process for a Jetson-based device.

The post-development manufacturing process for a Jetson-based device

All disk images and blobs to be flashed onto production devices must be generated on a secure system. The HSM holds all of the security keys needed in the manufacturing process. If more than one production device is to be flashed at a time, the security machine must be able to deploy images to other systems (flashing machines) for flashing devices.

If the device is designed to use per-device encrypted disk images, the images must be generated one at a time on the security machine.