Security and encryption

This page describes how Transfer Appliance secures and encrypts your data.

Google's infrastructure data security

When you return an appliance, we receive it at one of our Google data centers. When you order an appliance for data export, we prepare it at one of our Google data centers. Securing customer data is our top priority and responsibility. For more information about our infrastructure security, see Google Infrastructure Security Design Overview, and for more information about our data center security practices, see Data and Security.

Securing the appliance in transit

When you receive your appliance, you run the Transfer Appliance Attestation Application. This application validates the appliance identity and its state, to ensure that the appliance is in the same state as it was when we shipped it to you. The application generates an attestation passcode that you share with us. If the attestation passcode matches what we expect, we provide the login credentials for the appliance.

When you're done using the appliance and we've received the appliance from you, we validate the appliance again to ensure that it wasn't tampered with during shipping. After we've verified the appliance, we upload your data to Cloud Storage.

If the appliance validation indicates that the appliance was tampered with at any point, we invalidate the entire transfer session and work with you to ship you a replacement appliance.

Data encryption

Your data is encrypted during upload, during transit to our data centers, after it has been uploaded to Cloud Storage, and during download to the appliance when using data export feature. The following are details of how we encrypt your data:

  • During transit to Cloud Storage: Your data is encrypted on Transfer Appliance with dm-encrypt and partition-level encryption, with the AES-256 encryption algorithm.

  • During upload to Cloud Storage: Your data is encrypted using secure TLS connections. We transfer the encrypted data on your appliance to Cloud Storage. For customers using VPC Service Controls, this process occurs within your VPC Service Controls perimeter.

  • On Cloud Storage: Your data is encrypted on Cloud Storage by default. For more details, see Data encryption options.

  • During download to Transfer Appliance: Your data is encrypted in the cloud before it is downloaded to the appliance when data export feature is used.

Encrypting data in transit to your appliance

We do not apply encryption between your storage or network devices and your appliance. Securing the network and physical access to the appliance is your responsibility. We do not access or monitor the appliance while it is connected to your network.

Encrypting data on your appliance

We use two keys to encrypt data on your appliance:

  • A key encryption key, which is applied to the data encryption key before you return the appliance to us.

  • A data encryption key, which is applied to your data before it is written to the appliance's disks.

Key encryption key

You have the following two choices for the key encryption key (KEK):

  • You can create a customer-managed key, where you generate and manage the key yourself.

  • You can select a Google-managed key, in which we generate and manage the key.

    Google-managed keys are unique per session, and are not shared with other Google Cloud services. When a session is completed or cancelled, or if an appliance is lost, we destroy the key to ensure your data security.

    The following are the settings used to create Google-managed keys:

    • Region: Global
    • Protection level: Software
    • Purpose: Asymmetric decrypt
    • Algorithm: 4096-bit RSA - OAEP Padding - SHA256 Digest

Destroying the KEK before the session is completed results in complete data loss on the appliance.

The KEK is generated as a Cloud Key Management Service (Cloud KMS) asymmetric key in Google Cloud, and we download the KEK public key to the appliance before we ship it to you.

Data encryption key (DEK)

The DEK is generated on the appliance. The DEK is kept in memory, and is stored on the appliance's Trusted Platform Module to persist the key across reboots. The DEK is never stored on a local disk unencrypted.

The appliance applies the generated DEK to your data before writing your data to disk. When you finalize the data on the appliance, the KEK public key is applied to the DEK, and then the DEK is removed from the appliance.

Data is never stored unencrypted on the appliance.

Encrypt data for data export from Cloud Storage

When you order an appliance for data export, your appliance is prepared in a secured Google data center and your data is encrypted first. The encrypted data is then securely moved to the appliance which is further secured with disk level encryption. Your data remains encrypted on the appliance while in the data center and during transit and is only accessible once you activate the appliance.

Restrict access to data on your appliance

To restrict access to the data stored on your appliance's NFS shares, you can apply an IP filter that allows specific hosts on your network to access the appliance. Contact your network administrator for assistance.

For more information about the IP network ports that Transfer Appliance uses, see Configuring IP network ports.

Upload data to Cloud Storage

When we receive your appliance in one of our secured data centers, we upload your encrypted data into your VPC Service Controls perimeter before applying the KEK to decrypt the DEK and your data. The DEK is never persisted at any point during the transfer lifecycle. Then we securely move your data to Cloud Storage on our private data center network using secure TLS connections. Your data is encrypted in Cloud Storage by default, and is accessible only to you.

Appliance media sanitization

After uploading your data or receiving the appliance for data export, we sanitize the drive media in the appliance you returned by applying NIST 800-88 standards for purging information. Specifically, we use cryptographic erasure to sanitize all encrypted data previously stored on the appliance's drives. If a drive suffers a failure during use that renders it inoperable and unable to be erased, we physically destroy the affected physical media. For more information on our media sanitization processes, see Ensure safe and secure media sanitization.

You can request a wipe certificate for proof that we've securely sanitized the appliance media within 4 weeks after your data is available within Cloud Storage or after you've returned the appliance after data export.

Transfer Appliance refurbishment

Once we've destroyed your data on the appliance you returned, we prepare to ship the appliance out to the next customer. The following is a summary of how we refurbish each appliance after media sanitization:

  1. We partition the drives on the appliance. Media sanitization also destroys our data partitions, so we start fresh each time.

  2. Then we reformat the drives, preparing them to store data and the appliance's software.

  3. Next, we install the appliance's software, and apply any necessary updates.

  4. Finally, we package and prepare to ship the appliance to the next customer.