Threat Model

The threat model describes common scenarios and the security that gocryptfs provides for each.

Quoting the [gocryptfs-audit]:

We suggest writing down an explicit threat model and updating the website to better communicate the security guarantees that gocryptfs provides. This way, users are less likely to rely on it in ways which would make them vulnerable.

The scenarios are ordered according to the strength of the adversary, weakest to strongest. The adversaries are the same as those described in [gocryptfs-audit]. For more details you are advised to read the audit as well as this document.

Eve: Single snapshot of the ciphertext

Eve gets a complete copy of the ciphertext directory at a single point in time. Examples are losing a USB stick or getting your computer stolen. Because you don't get the stolen USB stick handed back to you, this is effectively a read-only attack.

Unless you use a very weak password, it is unlikely that any file or file name can be decrypted by the adversary, no matter how much data you have stored. However, it may be possible to determine if you have a certain directory stored - see below.

File size fingerprinting

The plaintext file size of each file can be directly calculated from the ciphertext file size. In other words, Eve has full information about all file sizes.

Using the file size information, Eve can try to identify directories of files that she already knows.

For example, Eve could download all available music albums from public bittorrent trackers and build a database of all file sizes in all directories. This allows her to determine with reasonably good confidence if one of these music albums is in your ciphertext.

In summary, gocryptfs does not protect the information that you have a certain directory of files, if that directory of files is already known to the adversary.

Possible GCM / EME interaction

Same Key Used for Both GCM and EME Modes as described in section 2.4 in [gocryptfs-audit] no longer applies since gocryptfs v1.3.

Dragon: Permanent read-write access to the ciphertext

Dragon (called "Dropbox" in the security audit) has read-write access to the whole ciphertext and sees all changes in real time.

This scenario applies if you synchronize your ciphertext directory to a cloud service, and Dragon has the cloud service's servers under his control.

Tracking changed blocks

Dragon sees what parts of each encrypted file are written to with 4 kiB granularity. Because each written block gets a random IV, Dragon does not get any information about what has changed (or if anything has changed at all) within a 4 kiB block.

This can be a problem if the location of writes is in itself sensitive.

Modifying files

Dragon can replace 4 kiB blocks of a file with earlier versions of the block. Blocks are tied to the file header and to the offset. They cannot be copied between different files or to a different offset in the file.

Due to sparse file support, Dragon can also zero out 4 kiB blocks.

Dragon can truncate files to 4 kiB boundaries.

Other modifications to files will be caught upon reading the file, returning an I/O error to the application and logging a "corrupt block" message to syslog.

File ID Poisoning, as described in section 2.2 of [gocryptfs-audit], no longer works since gocryptfs v1.3.

Deleting files

Dragon can delete files at will.

Renaming files

As the file content is not tied to the file name in any way, Dragon can rename an encrypted file name to another valid encrypted file name. This effectively means that he can swap files.

gocryptfs has explicitely chosen not to tie the file content to the file name to provide fast and reliable renames (renames are atomic in gocryptfs).

This can be threat when combined with social engineering: Asking the user to send an uninteresting file and replacing it with a sensitive one just before the user sends it out. You can protect yourself against this attack by copying a file you want to send outside the cloud-synced directory, checking that you got the right file, and only then sending it.

Directory IV Poisoning

In gocryptfs, each directory gets a gocryptfs.diriv file on directory creation. This file contains the random DirIV for file name encryption for this directory. It makes sure identical file names generate different ciphertext in each directory.

However when a directory is created, Dragon can immediately replace the gocryptfs.diriv file with a copy from another directory. When the DirIV is identical, identical file names generated identical ciphertext, so Dragon can see if a file name exists in both directories.

Mallory: Read-write access to full ciphertext and a single plaintext folder

Mallory can read and write the whole ciphertext and additionally is granted read-write access to a single folder in a mounted gocryptfs filesystem. This can happen if Mallory is the administrator of the NFS or SMB file server you store the ciphertext on, and you additionally export a "public" subdirectory of the mounted (decrypted) gocryptfs filesystem to Mallory.

This scenario leads to a complete break of confidentiality as Mallory can move all ciphertext folders to the "public" directory and copy the plaintext from there. It is recommended to avoid this scenario by never exporting any part of a mounted gocryptfs filesystem.

References

[gocryptfs-audit]

Gocryptfs Security Audit
Taylor Hornby - Defuse Security, 6 Mar 2017
https://defuse.ca/audits/gocryptfs.htm