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Intel(R) Software Guard Extensions Sealing and Unsealing Functions

The library provides the following functions:

  • Exposes APIs to create sealed data which is both confidentiality andintegrity protected.
  • Exposes an API to unseal sealed data inside the enclave.
  • Provides APIs to authenticate and verify the input data with AES-GMAC.

The library also provides APIs to help calculate the sealed data size, encrypt text length, and Message Authentication Code (MAC) text length.


When an enclave is instantiated, it provides protections (confidentiality and integrity) to the data by keeping it within the boundary of the enclave. Enclave developers should identify enclave data and/or state that is considered secret and potentially needs preservation across the following enclave destruction events:

  • Application is done with the enclave and closes it.
  • Application itself is closed.
  • The platform is hibernated or shutdown.

In general, the secrets provisioned within an enclave are lost when the enclave is closed. However if the secret data needs to be preserved during one of these events for future use within an enclave, it must be stored outside the enclave boundary before closing the enclave. In order to protect and preserve the data, a mechanism is in place which allows enclave software to retrieve a key unique to that enclave. This key can only be generated by that enclave on that particular platform. Enclave software uses that key to encrypt data to the platform or to decrypt data already on the platform. Refer to these encrypt and decrypt operations as sealing and unsealing respectively as the data is cryptographically sealed to the enclave and platform.

To provide strong protection against potential key-wear-out attacks, a unique seal key is generated for each data blob encrypted with the seal_data API call. A key ID for each encrypted data blob is stored in clear alongside the encrypted data blob. The key ID is used to re-generate the seal key to decrypt the data blob.

AES-GCM (AES – Advanced Encryption Standard) is utilized to encrypt and MAC-protect the payload. To protect against software-based side channel attacks, the crypto implementation of AES-GCM utilizes AES-NI, which is immune to software-based side channel attacks. The Galois/Counter Mode (GCM) is a mode of operation of the AES algorithm. GCM assures authenticity of the confidential data (of up to about 64 GB per invocation) using a universal hash function. GCM can also provide authentication assurance for additional data (of practically unlimited length per invocation) that is not encrypted. GCM can also provide authentication assurance for additional data (of practically unlimited length per invocation) that is not encrypted. If the GCM input contains only data that is not to be encrypted, the resulting specialization of GCM, called GMAC (Galois Message Authentication Code), is simply an authentication mode for the input data. The mac_aadata API call restricts the input to non-confidential data to provide data origin authentication only. The single output of this function is the authentication tag.