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I understand the security benefits of having your home folder encrypted when you install a new Linux system on a physical machine, but is encrypting your home folder as useful when we are dealing with virtual machines?

If you are using a physical machine, doing this makes perfect sense because you could detach the hard drive, connect it to another machine and access all of the data. Is this a feasible attack even when we are dealing with virtual machines?

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  • Well, that depends on where you store your VM images, doesn't it?
    – Elias
    Jul 15, 2017 at 12:32
  • @Elias Does it? I could ask you the same question for physical devices Jul 15, 2017 at 12:57
  • Yes, it does. If your VM image is already stored encrypted this would be redundant.
    – Elias
    Jul 16, 2017 at 7:29

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Almost anything you do with physical machines would apply to VMs too. Well almost could apply here too.

If you are using a physical machine, doing this makes perfect sense because you could detach the hard drive, connect it to another machine...

Your VM Harddrive is just a file on your disk and can be taken out, attached to another VM and used.

So if you're using your VMs to store sensitive data (I don't), and if your threat model needs protection of data at rest, then you would want to encrypt your VM disk and/or VM home folder encrypted.

PS: All my VMs are disposable. I maintain a few VM templates that I apply all updates to; and keep my tools / software sorted. Depending on what I want to, I clone a template and spin up a new VM. I then attach my "encrypted data disk" to the VM, use it and when done, get rid of the VM.

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