Immutable laws of security: https://fossbytes.com/10-immutable-laws-security-microsoft/

If a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, it’s not your computer anymore.

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I understand the hosting provider can access any data, similar questions below:

I would like to know when it is happening. How?

Something similar too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USBKill - call home when a machine is accessed?

WWII operation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mincemeat#Deception_documents

A single black eyelash was placed within the letter to check if the Germans or Spanish had opened it.

EDIT / UPDATE / REAL LIFE USE CASE: The original question reads "accessing my data". In fact I would like to expand it to the actual use case that I'm trying to implement. Bitcoin. Lightning Network. Keeping my node online 24/7, that's what VPS is for. At the same time, I'm genuinely worried that the hosting provider can simply user their privileges to grab all the secrets, wallets, private keys from my machine. I know it's kind of game over right from the start, but maybe I can at least know if they are honest or not.

3 Answers 3


No, this is impossible.

They can bypass the OS and any other code you have running by simply cloning the hard-drive and looking at it. Even if the drive is encrypted, they control all the ways you would get a decrypt key to the box ... so they pretty much have that too.

Only way you can have data on a VPS and not have the possibility of the VPS host have access to it is to encrypt it before it is sent to the VPS, and decrypt it after it comes off the VPS.

  • Is it really a feasible workaround? I give you stream of bytes. You give me some hardware (virtualised hardware) at a data centre. I have a SSH key to make sense of that stream of bytes. You can simply capture the bytes and SSH key, be essentially a full owner anyway? Jun 4, 2019 at 13:13
  • @MarsRobertson im not sure I follow ... my answer had nothing to do with ssh. I simply said if you encrypted data in a trusted location, and stored it in an untrusted VPS (with out the key ever being shared) would be the only way to be 100% sure the VPS provider doesn't have access to your data. Jun 4, 2019 at 14:23
  • I see your point. Encrypted storage. In that way, they'll access only the cyphertext... But I'm worried that when accessing the encrypted storage, they can capture my keystrokes. The reason why I'm asking? Don't trust. Verify. Thinking about running Lightning Network on a VPS: github.com/lightningnetwork/lnd/issues/3159 (and realized that a rogue admin can simply access my account) Jun 4, 2019 at 14:29
  • 1
    @MarsRobertson In CaffeineAddiciton's scenario, there are no keystrokes to capture. You encrypt locally, using a key that remains local then ship the encrypted data to the VPS. Later, you retrieve the encrypted data from the VPS to your local machine and decrypt it there using your key (which has never left your control). At no time is the key seen/seeable by the VPS. This is different to an encrypted drive on the VPS where you would have to send the key (or a password/etc. that access the key) to the VPS.
    – TripeHound
    Jun 5, 2019 at 11:25

A simple solution is to overload your save commands and open commands to split each file into two streams of every other byte and write and read them to two different vendors. Neither vendor has a useable file.

  • This sounds awfully like "roll your own" crypto, which is a bad idea. If you want to encrypt data at rest (which would not solve all problems posed in the question), use vetted algorithms and software
    – Jenessa
    Jun 4, 2019 at 17:45

I've never used them, but this site generates various types of documents or dns entries or whatever that will get you an alert if anyone tries to read them.

The idea is that you leave the canary lying about your host in such a position that normal users won't come across it, but anyone snooping will. The snooper will then try to read the document and set off the canary.

It's FAR from a perfect system, but it could let you know if your hosting provider is poking where they shouldn't be.

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