Unlock LUKS volume with a YubiKey

Update: The dracut configuration has been updated and now udev consistently recognizes the YubiKey in the initramfs.

Unlocking LUKS encrypted drives with a YubiKey has been supported since systemd 248. In Debian, systemd>=250 is required, as the feature has not been enabled in prior versions. This tutorial is geared towards Yubikeys, but it should work with slight modifications with any other FIDO2 token.

YubiKey series 5 and later should support the hmac-secret extension. You can make sure your Yubikey supports the needed hmac-secret extension by querying it with ykman:

$ ykman --diagnose 2>&1 | grep hmac-secret

Backup your LUKS header

In case you mess anything up, you would need a backup of your LUKS header. Remember to save your backup to some external storage, so you can actually access it if anything goes sideways.

# cryptsetup luksHeaderBackup /dev/nvme0n1p3 --header-backup-file /media/guyru/E474-2D80/luks_backup.bin

Set FIDO2 PIN

We would like to set a FIDO2 PIN for the Yubikey, so unlocking the encrypted drive would require both the physical Yubikey and the PIN. You can set the PIN using:

$ ykman fido access change-pin

Enroll the Yubikey

Start by verifying that systemd-cryptenroll can see and can use your YubiKey:

$ systemd-cryptenroll --fido2-device=list
PATH         MANUFACTURER PRODUCT
/dev/hidraw0 Yubico       YubiKey FIDO+CCID

Now, enroll the Yubikey, replacing /dev/nvme0n1p3 with the block device of the LUKS encrypted drive.

$ sudo systemd-cryptenroll /dev/nvme0n1p3 --fido2-device=auto  --fido2-with-client-pin=yes
🔐 Please enter current passphrase for disk /dev/nvme0n1p3: (no echo)
Initializing FIDO2 credential on security token.
👆 (Hint: This might require confirmation of user presence on security token.)
🔐 Please enter security token PIN: (no echo)
Generating secret key on FIDO2 security token.
👆 In order to allow secret key generation, please confirm presence on security token.
New FIDO2 token enrolled as key slot 0.

Modify /etc/crypttab

We need to modify /etc/crypttab in order to tell cryptsetup to unlock the device using the YubiKey. Add fido2-device=auto in the options field of the crypttab entry for your device. For example:

nvme0n1p3_crypt UUID=307a6bef-5599-4963-8ce0-d9e999026c1a none luks,discard,fido2-device=auto

Switch to dracut

Debian’s default initramfs generator, update-initramfs of the initramfs-tools is using the old cryptsetup for mounting encrypted drives. However, cryptsetup doesn’t recognize the fido2-device option. Running update-initramfs will fail with the following error:

$ sudo update-initramfs -u
update-initramfs: Generating /boot/initrd.img-5.15.0-3-amd64
cryptsetup: WARNING: nvme0n1p3_crypt: ignoring unknown option 'fido2-device'

This is unfortunate. The simplest solution is to switch to dracut, a more modern initramfs generator, which among other things relies on systemd to activate encrypted volumes. This solves the issue of the unknown fido2-device.

Before installing dracut, I would highly recommend creating a copy of the existing initramfs in the boot partition in case something goes wrong.

$ sudo apt install dracut

Dracut includes systemd-cryptsetup by default. systemd-cryptsetup depends on libfido for unlocking devices using FIDO2 tokens. At least in Debian, systemd-cryptsetup dynamically loads libfido2.so (as opposed to being dynamically linked), which causes dracut not to have libfido2.so in the initramfs. This causes systemd-cryptsetup to issue the following error upon boot:

FIDO2 tokens not supported on this build. 

We fix it by manually adding libfido2.so to the initramfs. Of course, we also need to include libfido2’s dependencies as well. Dracut has a mechanism for automatically adding dependencies for executables, but it doesn’t work on libraries. As a workaround, instead of adding libfido2 directly, we will add an executable that depends on libfido2, which will add libfido2 and its dependencies to the initramfs. We will usefido2-token from the fido2-tools package for this trick.

$ sudo apt install fido2-tools
$ cat << EOF | sudo tee /etc/dracut.conf.d/11-fido2.conf
## Spaces in the quotes are critical.
# install_optional_items+=" /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libfido2.so.* "

## Ugly workround because the line above doesn't fetch
## dependencies of libfido2.so
install_items+=" /usr/bin/fido2-token "

# Required detecting the fido2 key
install_items+=" /usr/lib/udev/rules.d/60-fido-id.rules /usr/lib/udev/fido_id "
EOF

Now, recreate the initramfs images:

$ sudo dracut -f

Last remarks

At this point, we are done. Reboot you’re machine and it will prompt you for your YubiKey and allow you to unlock your LUKS encrypted root patition with it. If you don’t have your YubiKey, it will give the following prompt:

Security token not present for unlocking volume root (nvme0n1p3_crypt), please plug it in.

After around 30 seconds, it would time out and display the following message:

Timed out waiting for security device, aborting security device based authentication attempt.

Afterwards, it would allow you to unlock the partition using a password (or a recovery key).

In case you run into any trouble, append rd.break=initqueue to the kernel command line, and dracut will enter a shell before attempting to mount the partitions. You can manually mount the drive using the following command:

# /usr/lib/systemd/systemd-cryptsetup attach root /dev/nvme0n1p3

Exit the emergency shell, and the system will continue its normal boot.

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