A quick-start guide to OpenZFS native encryption

Close-up photograph of a padlock.

Enlarge / On-disk encryption is a complex topic, but this article should give you a solid handle on OpenZFS’ implementation. (credit: Paul Downey / Flickr)

One of the many features OpenZFS brings to the table is ZFS native encryption. First introduced in OpenZFS 0.8, native encryption allows a system administrator to transparently encrypt data at-rest within ZFS itself. This obviates the need for separate tools like LUKS, VeraCrypt, or BitLocker.

OpenZFS encryption algorithm defaults to either aes-256-ccm (prior to 0.8.4) or aes-256-gcm (>= 0.8.4) when encryption=on is set. But it may also be specified directly. Currently supported algorithms are:

  • aes-128-ccm
  • aes-192-ccm
  • aes-256-ccm (default in OpenZFS < 0.8.4)
  • aes-128-gcm
  • aes-192-gcm
  • aes-256-gcm (default in OpenZFS >= 0.8.4)

There’s more to OpenZFS native encryption than the algorithms used, though—so we’ll try to give you a brief but solid grounding in the sysadmin’s-eye perspective on the “why” and “what” as well as the simple “how.”

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