Fri 11 May 2018

Filed under Android

Tags android gsoc encryption

The story

I'm working on my GSoC 2018 project, and part of my work at this point is to take over init on an Android system. In order to get to the real root located in /data on Android, I need to mount the encrypted Android userdata partition, which uses Linux's dm-crypt target of device-mapper. Though I thought that it would be a pretty easy task, it turned out otherwise. In this article I analyze the routine of AOSP's vold decrypting the userdata block device.

Along the way of analyzing, I picked the necessary functions and macro definitions and trimmed unnecessary code in hope of splitting the cryptfs component out of Android's vold, which is too much an overkill for simply decrypting the userdata partition; what's more, it's virtually impossible to get vold working in the rural context of init, as nothing on the system has been set up yet. Unfortuately, a key component turned out to be rather hard to get, of which we'll see later on in this article. The partial work done can be found in this repository.

Find the key function

According to Android Source, the entire encryption/decryption logic of Android is in cryptfs.cpp, a component of Android's volume manager daemon vold. After some rough C-s'ing in the source, we come across the key function:

static int test_mount_encrypted_fs(struct crypt_mnt_ftr* crypt_ftr,
                                   const char *passwd, const char *mount_point, const char *label)

But before we look at the function body, let's check the parameters first. The definition of struct crypt_mnt_ftr can be found in cryptfs.h. Telling from the name of the structure as well as some common sense of what should be needed to test_mount an encrypted filesystem, we can see that this structure is a crypto footer. As the comments in cryptfs.h states:

/* This structure starts 16,384 bytes before the end of a hardware
 * partition that is encrypted, or in a separate partition.  It's location
 * is specified by a property set in init.<device>.rc.
 * The structure allocates 48 bytes for a key, but the real key size is
 * specified in the struct.  Currently, the code is hardcoded to use 128
 * bit keys.
 * The fields after salt are only valid in rev 1.1 and later stuctures.
 * Obviously, the filesystem does not include the last 16 kbytes
 * of the partition if the crypt_mnt_ftr lives at the end of the
 * partition.

On Nexus 6P, the footer is located in the 16MB-metadata partition, while on Oneplus 5 this footer is located at the end of the userdata filesystem. To really know about where this information is, vold will read the device's fstab (usually located in the initramfs) with the help of fs_mgr to get the true location of the footer, be it an individual partition or an offset relative to the start of userdata partition.

Digging deeper

Now that we know where is the information that's needed to restore the structure of the userdata partition, we can start reading the function body of test_mount_encrypted_fs. The first (and the only one that's important) foreign function we run into is decrypt_master_key here, whose definition can be found here:

static int decrypt_master_key(const char *passwd, unsigned char *decrypted_master_key,
                              struct crypt_mnt_ftr *crypt_ftr,
                              unsigned char** intermediate_key,
                              size_t* intermediate_key_size)
    kdf_func kdf;
    void *kdf_params;
    int ret;
    get_kdf_func(crypt_ftr, &kdf, &kdf_params);
    ret = decrypt_master_key_aux(passwd, crypt_ftr->salt, crypt_ftr->master_key,
                                 decrypted_master_key, kdf, kdf_params,
                                 intermediate_key, intermediate_key_size);
    if (ret != 0) {
        SLOGW("failure decrypting master key");
    return ret;

Woah, more new friends! What comes first is kdf_func. After ripgrep'ing around, we can find that it's a typedef declared here:

typedef int (*kdf_func)(const char *passwd, const unsigned char *salt,
                        unsigned char *ikey, void *params);

And that get_kdf_func turned out to be selecting the correct Key Derivation Function that derives the master key that's used for encrypting the entire userdata function. We'll come back to the KDF later. We can see that the real cryptographical logic is in the function decrypt_master_key_aux here. The code is a little bit long to include here, and it's simply a reverse of the Key Derivation process, so instead of dissecting this function here, I'll put it off until we finish the part on KDF, after which the master key decryption process would be quite straightforward.

The nightmare--Key Derivation Function

Android system currently have three versions of the KDF, among which current Android version is using the scrypt-keymaster function defined here. The key derivation process is as follows:

  • Generate 16 bytes randomly as the Disk Encryption Key (DEK) and then generate 16 bytes randomly as the salt (SALT);
  • Use scrypt (crypto_scrypt) on the User Password-SALT pair, resulting in a hash of 32 bytes; take this as Intermediate Key 1 (IK1)
  • Pad IK1 to match the size of secret key in crypto hardware (256 bytes RSA as of now), patching scheme as follows: 00 || IK1 || 00..00 # one zero byte, 32 IK1 bytes, 223 zero bytes
  • Sign IK1 with crypto hardware, resulting in 256 bytes of signature as IK2;
  • Use scrypt on the IK2-SALT pair, resulting in a hash of 32 bytes; take this as IK3;
  • Use the first 16 bytes of IK3 as Key Encryption Key (KEK, used to encrypt DEK), and the last 16 bytes as Initialization Vector (IV);
  • Use AES_CBC with KEK as secret key and IV as the initialization vector to encrypt DEK, which is the encrypted master key. Store this into the data structure crypt_mnt_ftr, which we discussed earlier.

As you may notice, the hardest part in this system to implement by hand is the crypto hardware, and the key function we can't handle here is keymaster_sign_object. Android HAL implements access to the crypto hardware by proxying actual operations to the vendor firmware blob. The high-level abstraction for the device is implemented here as a part of vold, while the low-level interfaces are buried in libhardware component of Android, which is the Android HAL. This is the point where I stopped further investigations, as further dissecting Android HAL will take reasonably longer time, with no guarantee of successfully implementing the crypto hardware signing procedure.

What next?

So, decrypting Android userdata partition seems to be a no-go for now. Yet, fortunately, we can bypass the forced encryption by modifying Android's fstab. For Nexus 6P, the line for userdata reads:

/dev/block/platform/soc.0/f9824900.sdhci/by-name/userdata     /data           ext4    noatime,nosuid,nodev,barrier=1,data=ordered,nomblk_io_submit,noauto_da_alloc,errors=panic,inode_readahead_blks=8 wait,check,forcefdeorfbe=/dev/block/platform/soc.0/f9824900.sdhci/by-name/metadata

Note the forcefdeorfbe keyword: this means that either Full-Disk Encryption (which is what we've discussed in this article) or File-Based Encryption is required on this device; if no encryption is present, the device will be encrypted by vold on boot. What's written after it is the location of the crypt_mnt_ftr structure we discussed above.

To bypass the forced encryption, we simply substitute forcedfdeorfbe with encryptable and formatting the userdata partition. In this way userdata will remain unencrypted. I'll leave encryption as something to encypt later, maybe with LUKS, which is something far easier to use in the GNU/Linux land.


Personal details (portrait, CV) © Pengcheng Xu All Rights Reserved; articles licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
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