Host checkers

Before the decryption key gets passed to the remote host, it must be ensured that the remote host is the authentic one and that it is in a trustworthy state.

Currently, the strongest sign that this is the case is the host key verification done by SSH which ensures that the remote host has access to it’s private host key.

Additional to that, a few checkers are implemented which hook in at various stages of fdeunlock execution.

Network based checkers


Checks the network link layer address as observed by the machine running fdeunlock. A link layer address is only expected to be available if the remote machine and the machine fdeunlock is running on communicate over the same link layer network.

This check might be interesting because the link layer address is not stored on disk (at least not in clear text). An adversary having only access to the disks would have no easy way to get to know this address.

Note that the link layer address is typically capturable and spoofable in a local network.


Checks the round trip time measured by fping based on one ICMP packet if it is within expected boundaries.

The default boundaries is 1.0 ms and can be configured using the unauthenticated_latency_deviation configuration option which is a float number representing the time deviation in ms.

The intention of this check together with the AuthenticatedLatencyChecker is to detect a variant of an evil maid attack where the host you think you are just unlocking is not the one you are actually unlocking. Such an attack might have different latency characteristics because even the most advanced adversary is still bound by the law of physics. For reference, the speed of light is 300 km/ms.

SSH based checkers


Measure the latency over SSH and check if it is within expected boundaries.

The default boundaries are 10.0 ms and can be configured using the authenticated_latency_deviation configuration option which is a float number representing the time deviation in ms.

Refer to UnauthenticatedLatencyChecker for the background.


Compute checksums for all files in the initramfs and compare the checksums to previously measured trusted once.

Note that if an reasonably funded adversary is in the position to tamper with your initramfs this check will probably not be able to catch them. All this check tries to do is to increase the cost of such an attach or even catch less skilled attackers.

There are many ways how this check can be fooled. For example, the check does not checksum the loaded/running kernel image nor the boot loader nor the system firmware.

The additional_checksum_commands configuration option can be used to specify additional commands for checksumming/verification. The output of those commands is included in the checksum file and compared with the previous measurement. Multiple commands can be given, separated by newline. Example:

additional_checksum_commands =
  uname -a
  dmesg | egrep '(DMI:|Command line:|Booting paravirtualized kernel on bare hardware)' | sed 's/^\[\s*[[:digit:].]\+\]\s*//;'
  cat /sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/board_serial /sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/product_uuid
  ls /dev/disk/by-id/
  dd if=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1 | sha512sum -

The diff_command configuration option can be used to set another text diffing program than the default diff command. Comparison is run on your local machine. Note that the diffing program is exposed to untrusted input. The files path to the trusted and the currently untrusted checksum file are appended as the last two parameters to the given command, in the mentioned order (trusted first; untrusted second/last). Example:

diff_command = git diff --no-index

Proper remote attestation (Trusted Computing) should be implemented. Feel free to add support for this to FDEunlock :-)