Encryption in Production

WWII era encryption with the Enigma Machine

The encryption capabilities of SQL Server have been growing in each new version. We have gone from password protected backups to Transparent Data Encryption (TDE), we have moved form PWDENCRYPT() to symmetric, asymmetric keys, and certificates. There are quite a few options available in the current SQL Server platform. However I don’t often see people writing or talking about their use of security.

It might be the nature of sensitive data means keeping the use of encryption quiet, but that shouldn’t matter. If you are keeping your keys safe, the algorithms and deployments you use should not matter. This Friday I wanted to ask a question about your use of encryption in real world systems.

If you have sensitive information (identity/financial/medical) data in a database, have you deployed encryption?

I would like to know if you’ve actually implemented native or third party encryption and if so, in what percentage of the databases that have sensitive information is encrpytion deployed. Do you strip out data before you store it, perhaps only storing something like the last four digits of a credit card in plain text? How diligent do you think your employer is being with regards to encryption?

If you work with encryption, are you confident that you can recover your systems in a disaster? That’s one question I’d want to be sure I could answer before I deployed any keys in my database.

Steve Jones


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About way0utwest

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1 Response to Encryption in Production

  1. We use TDE on all our production and development servers that have PII. We work extensively with the Federal Government so security is “job one” as Ford might say. We always strip out the SSN, we don’t store CC information so that is not a concern

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