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I was wondering if there was a way to encrypt the folder that contains the hsm_secret (and a lot of other operational files necessary for constant operation of a C-lightning node) without cutting it off from normal access required by an operational lightning network node?

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In theory, the way that Lightning works allows for the use of a Hardware Security module to perform a lot of the logic which would allow for secret material to be stored externally on a secure device similar to a Trezor. However none exists at the time of writing, and persistent access to many of the files is likely required in the current software. The balance of a Lightning wallet should be for the moment considered to be an extremely hot wallet, rather than long term storage for this reason.

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