»Data Security in Boundary
Boundary has multiple mechanisms to ensure secure end-to-end behavior of the system. A key part of this is support for various Key Management Systems that protect the base encryption keys used for various functions. This page describes the various KMS key purposes that Boundary supports and how they are used within the system.
Boundary does not currently support rotation of its internal keys, but this will be supported in a future version. External keys can be rotated so long as the original keys remain available for decryption; full support for rotating these will come in a future version as well.
root KMS Key and Per-Scope KEK/DEKs
Following best practices of using different encryption keys for different purposes, Boundary has a number of encryption keys generated within each scope.
root KMS key acts as a KEK (Key Encrypting Key) for the scope-specific
KEKs (also referred to as the scope's
root key). The scope's
root KEK and
the various DEKs (Data Encryption Keys) are created when a scope is created. The
DEKs are encrypted with the scope's
root KEK, and this is in turn encrypted
with the KMS key marked for
The current scoped DEKs and their purposes are detailed below:
Management of these keys is handled entirely internally; the information provided in this section is purely for informational purposes.
database: This is the general-purpose DEK used to encrypt sensitive or secret values within the database.
oplog: This is used for encrypting oplog (operation log) values for the given scope.
tokens: This is used for encrypting tokens generated by auth methods within the given scope.
sessions: This is used as a base key against which to derive session-specific encryption keys.
worker-auth KMS Key
worker-auth KMS key is a key shared by the Controller and Worker in order
to authenticate a Worker to the Controller. Specifics of this mechanism can be
found on the Connections/TLS page.
recovery KMS Key
recovery KMS key is used for rescue/recovery operations that can be used
by a client to authenticate almost any operation within Boundary. Its mechanism
of operation is very similar to the
worker-auth flow in terms of using a
shared KMS between the client and the Controller for authentication. A nonce and
creation time are included as an encrypted payload, formatted as a token and
sent to the Controller. The time and nonce are used to ensure that a value
cannot be replayed by an adversary, and also to ensure that each operation must
be individually authenticated by a client so that revoking access to the KMS has
an immediate result.
It is not required for this
kms configuration block to exist in the
Controller's configuration file. It's best practice to leave it out except when
actually needed, and to use change control capabilities to ensure that the
configuration file modification is authorized. After it's no longer needed, the
block should be removed.
On the client side, a user can use the
-recovery-config flag with any
operation on the CLI to specify a configuration file containing a suitable
block. This functionality is also accessible via the Go SDK.
This mechanism cannot be used to authorize a session, as there is no user
information attached to these requests. Requests authorized via this mechanism
will show a user of
There are some other situations where this mechanism can be useful. For example,
it is possible to use this mechanism, along with some defaults in the Terraform
provider, to ensure that everything in Boundary is created through Terraform,
with the exception of resources that cannot themselves be deleted. (This
consists of built-in anonymous (
u_anon), authenticated (
u_recovery) users and the
global scope.). By initializing Boundary
with the options to skip creating default resources, Terraform can be used to
create the specific resources needed instead, with the
recovery KMS used to
authenticate setting up the initial auth method(s).
config KMS Key
This key can be used to encrypt values within Boundary's configuration file. By
sharing this block between Boundary and an operator, the operator can put
sensitive or secret values (such as cloud API keys for KMSes) in Boundary's
configuration file, run
boundary config encrypt to encrypt the file, and then
safely pass the file to a change control system. Only another operator or system
with access to that KMS can decrypt the values. Boundary will check for a
config KMS block on startup, and if it exists, will use it to decrypt any
encrypted values found at startup time.