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The home is mounted unencrypted on login.

I tried accessing it after doing 'su sampleuser', but it was encrypted, which is the expected behavior I guess.

I also tried changing the user's password, and then logging in, but I was redirected to the login.

So just to be sure: is there a way for root to access and decrypt a home folder from another user?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes and no. Not directly - the data can only be decrypted with the user's password, which root doesn't have.

But a malicious root user can always get around that kind of thing - they own the system. A couple of workable options come to mind, but I'm sure there are plenty of others: pulling the decrypted private key from memory while the user's logged in, or setting up a key logger to capture the user's password when they enter it.

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In addition to capturing the user's password when they log in, root can also access the encrypted filesystem while it's mounted (i.e. when you're logged in), by sudoing to your user.

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