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From what I understand, even when data is overwritten on disk there is a possibility of it being recovered. From what I also understand, replacing/deleting a LUKS key is fast/trivial and does not lead to all the data being rewritten. This suggests to me that there is an important "secondary key" somewhere in the header, which further suggests that if a key has been compromised and replaced, but an attacker can recover a PREVIOUS state of the LUKS header that used that key, they could still access the data. Am I wrong or is this a security concern?

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The short answer: This is a security concern if you fail to maintain physical control over your media and/or choose poor pass-phrases.

Longer answer:

If an attacker gains access to the hard drive at time A, duplicates it, and compromises the key as it was at time A, then all of the data that was present at time A is compromised (but you knew that part).

To the best of my knowledge there is a 'master key' that each passphrase will give you access to. Further, there is no way I could find to easily change the master key without creating a whole new partition for the new master key (it would be hard to do even if it were possible).

What this means is that unless you wipe the hard drive and start over between times A and B then the attacker who compromised the key as it was at time A, and who also gains access to the same drive at time B, has access to the data as it is at time B.


User education and proper response to security threats. If your user loses control of encrypted media and then regains control of it later, you need them to tell you about it, and you need to wipe the machine and re-encrypt it using a different pass-phrase.

Also, count the information that was on the laptop (at time A) as lost or potentially lost if there is any chance that a sophisticated attacker gained access to it and the pass-phrase isn't quite strong.

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