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From "Andrew Purtell (JIRA)" <j...@apache.org>
Subject [jira] [Created] (HBASE-12188) Use AES-GCM as the preferred mode when encrypting HFiles
Date Tue, 07 Oct 2014 17:38:34 GMT
Andrew Purtell created HBASE-12188:
--------------------------------------

             Summary: Use AES-GCM as the preferred mode when encrypting HFiles
                 Key: HBASE-12188
                 URL: https://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/HBASE-12188
             Project: HBase
          Issue Type: Improvement
            Reporter: Andrew Purtell
            Priority: Minor
             Fix For: 2.0.0


Currently for encrypting HFiles we use AES in CTR mode. This protects data against plaintext
recovery but does not offer data integrity verification. We must continue to rely on HDFS
integrity protection mechanisms, or internal HFile checksums, which could be subverted. An
attacker might be able to maliciously introduce corruption that would not be detected during
decryption.

GCM mode operates as a stream cipher like CTR mode while incrementally calculating a message
authentication code (MAC) concurrent with encryption, in a way that affords efficient high
performance parallel implementation. The process of decryption also verifies the integrity
of the data in a cryptographically strong manner. Any tampering or corruption will result
in a reported decryption failure. This provides a marginal improvement in security because
tampering or corruption will be found at the HFile level and so the invalid data will not
have a chance to be passed up into higher layers.

We needed to use AES-CTR when initially developing HFile encryption because just about everyone
was still using Java 6 in production. This has changed. We have dropped support for Java 6
as of branch-1. Conceivably we could introduce use of the new Java 7+ APIs for working with
AEAD modes like GCM. Once doing so, the code will no longer compile if using the JDK 6. 



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