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Enclave

An enclave is a secure processing environment that acts as a black box for processing commands and data. Enclaves come in various forms, some on hardware and others in software. In all scenarios, the purpose is to protect information that exists inside of the enclave from malicious attack.

What does the Tessera Enclave do?

The Tessera Enclave is designed to handle all of the encryption/decryption operations required by the Transaction Manager and all forms of key management.

This enables all sensitive operations to be handled in a single place, without any leakage into areas of program memory that don’t need access. This also means that a smaller application can be run in a secure environment, where memory constraints are often more stringent, such as hardware enclaves.

The Transaction Manager, which handles peer management, database access and Quorum communication does not perform any encryption/decryption, greatly reducing the impact an attack can have.

What exactly does the Enclave handle?

The Tessera Enclave handles the following data:

  • public/private key access
  • public keys of extra recipients (** should be moved into Transaction Manager, not sensitive)
  • default identity of attached nodes

The Enclave performs the following actions on request:

  • fetching the default identity for attached nodes (default public key)
  • providing forwarding keys for all transactions (** should be moved into Transaction Manager, not sensitive)
  • returning all public keys managed by this Enclave
  • encrypting a payload for given sender and recipients
  • encrypting raw payloads for given sender
  • decrypting transactions for a given recipient (or sender)
  • adding new recipients for existing payloads

Where does the Enclave sit in the private transaction flow?

See the Lifecycle of a private transaction for more information.

Types of Enclave

Tessera provides different types of Enclaves to suit different needs:

Local Enclave

The local Enclave is the classical option that was included in versions of Tessera prior to v0.9. This includes the Enclave inside the same process and the transaction manager. This is still an option, and requires all the Enclave configuration to be inside the same configuration file and the Transaction Manager configuration.

How to use?

In order to use the local Enclave, you simply need to not specify an Enclave server type in the configuration. don’t forget to specify the Enclave configuration in the Transaction Manager configuration file.

HTTP Enclave

The HTTP Enclave is a remote Enclave that serves RESTful endpoints over HTTP. This allows a clear separation of concerns for between the Enclave process and Transaction Manager process. The Enclave must be present and running at TM startup as it will be called upon for initialisation.

How to use?

The HTTP Enclave can be started up by specifying an ENCLAVE server app type, with REST as the communication type. This same configuration should be put into the TM configuration so it knows where to find the remote Enclave. Remember to set TLS settings as appropriate, with the TM being a client of the Enclave.

Advantage?

The HTTP Enclave could be deployed in a completely secure environment away from local machine where Transaction Manager process runs and it adds this additional layer of security for private keys which is only accessible from HTTP Enclave.

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