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Protobuf-encoded policy blobs

Cloud policy blobs encode policy settings in a protobuf format, protected with a signature. The signature facilitates authenticity checks, the key pair is typically created and owned by the entity managing the device or user. Policy blobs are also used as the canonical format for device settings on Chromium OS. They are stored on disk by session_manager, which also takes care of authenticating incoming protobufs.


The term "policy blob" usually refers to a binary-encoded PolicyFetchResponse protobuf message as defined here:

This protobuf message is a nested structure and contains binary-encoded payload protobufs. The layers are as follows:

  1. PolicyFetchResponse is the outer protobuf. It wraps the actual payload - a PolicyData protobuf message - in binary form and includes a signature that's computed on the payload binary. It also contains fields for shipping a new key in case of key rotation. Rotation requires the signature on the new key to verify against the old key.
  2. PolicyData hosts a fair amount of meta data about the policy, such as policy type, timestamps, intended receiver etc. These are used for further validity checks. The actual policy values are nested in the binary policy_value field. The field contains a binary-encoded protobuf, it's message type depends on the policy type.
  3. The CloudPolicySettings message type is used for user-level policy, which is indicated by type google/chromeos/user. The protobuf definition is generated at compile time from chrome/app/policy/policy_templates.json:
  4. Chromium OS device policy is handled by ChromeDeviceSettingsProto defined in and is applicable if the policy type is google/chromeos/device.

Location of binary blobs

Binary policy blobs are stored on Chromium OS in these locations: