Overview of Keylime

Keylime mainly consists of an agent, two server components (verifier and registrar) and a commandline tool the tenant.


The agent is a service that runs on the operating system that should be attested. It communicates with the TPM to enroll the AK and to generate quotes and collects the necessary data like the UEFI and IMA event logs to make state attestation possible.

The agent provides an interface to provision the device further once it was attested successfully for the first time using the secure payload mechanism. For more details see: Secure Payloads.

It is possible for the agent to listen to revocation events that are sent by the verifier if an agent attestation failed. This is useful for environments where attested systems directly communicate with each other and require that the other systems are trusted. In this case a revocation message might change local policies so that the compromised system cannot access any resources from other systems.


The agent registers itself in the registrar. The registrar manages the agent enrollment process which includes getting an UUID for the agent, collecting the EKpub, EK certificate and AKpub from an agent and verifying that the AK belongs to the EK (using MakeCredential and ActivateCredential).

Once an agent has been registered in the registrar, it is ready to be enrolled for attestation. The tenant can use the EK certificate to verify the trustworthiness of the TPM.


If EK or AK are mentioned outside of internal TPM signing operations, it usually references the EKpub or AKpub because it should not be possible extract the private keys out of the TPM.


The Keylime agent currently generates a AK on every startup and sends the EK and EK certificate. This is done to keep then design simple by not requiring a third party to verify the EK. The EK (and EK certificate) is required to verify the authenticity of the AK once and Keylime does not require a new AK but currently registration only with an AK is not enabled because the agent does not implement persisting the AK.


The verifier implements the actual attestation of an agent and sends revocation messages if an agent leaves the trusted state.

Once an agent is registered for attestation (using the tenant or the API directly) the verifier continuously pulls the required attestation data from the agent. This can include: a quote over the PCRs, the PCR values, NK public key, IMA log and UEFI event log. After that the quote is validated additional validation of the data can be configured.

Static PCR values

The tpm_policy allows for simple checking of PCR values against a known good allowlist. In most cases this is only useful when the boot chain does not change often, there is a way to retrieve the values beforehand and the UEFI event log is unavailable. More information can be found in User Selected PCR Monitoring.

Measured Boot using the UEFI Event Log

On larger deployments it is not feasible to collect golden values for the PCR values used for measured boot. To make attestation still possible Keylime includes a policy engine for validating the UEFI event log. This is the preferred method because static PCR values are fragile because they change if something in the boot chain is updated (firmware, Shim, GRUB, Linux kernel, initrd, …). More information can be found in Use Measured Boot.

IMA validation

Keylime allows to verify files measured by IMA against either a provided allowlist or a signature. This makes it for example easy to attest all files that were executed by root. More information can be found in Runtime Integrity Monitoring.


The tenant is a commandline management tool shipped by Keylime to manage agents. This includes adding or removing the agent from attestation, validation of the EK certificate against a cert store and getting the status of an agent. It also provides the necessary tools for the payload mechanism and revocation actions.

For all the features of the tenant see the output of keylime_tenant --help.