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Buck Woody

Carpe Datum!

Transparent Data Encryption and the Latest Data Breach

Well, It’s happened again. Hundreds of thousands of private records were stolen from a database. This one, however, was different. No one stole any passwords, no one did any social engineering, nothing was captured in-line. No, this one was accomplished by stealing the actual hard drives themselves!  When a thief breaks in and steals hard drives, you can be sure they know what they are after.

So even if the company had taken all of the regular authentication precautions and so on, the thieves could still take this step. But the data loss could still be prevented…

Enterprise SQL Server 2008 (and later) has a new feature called “Transparent Data Encryption”. When you turn this feature on,  you don’t have to change anything in your applications – from then on, the data files, log files, tempdb and even the data on the backup files are encrypted. Without the certificate you use to encrypt them, the thief can’t get to the data.

I’m sometimes asked why a company should upgrade to the latest version of SQL Server, or why Enterprise Edition is important. A few hundred thousand private records sounds like a pretty good reason to me.

Published Monday, February 1, 2010 7:06 AM by BuckWoody



tlm said:

If they steal the drives they have the cert too.  

February 1, 2010 12:58 PM

noeldr said:

If they got the hard drives from a datacenter they have bigger problems.

February 1, 2010 1:24 PM

Buck Woody said:

tlm: No they don't. You never store the cert on the same drive. That's like leaving the keys in your car. The certs should always be stored on removable media.

noeldr: No doubt. But if it's your data, you don't care if they lost some drives- as long as they can't read them.

February 1, 2010 1:46 PM

omen said:

"The certs should always be stored on removable media"...which is plugged where? On the server where the disks were stolen from?

February 1, 2010 2:46 PM

Buck Woody said:

omen - Ha!  sure - leave the keys in the front door when you leave home! :)

No, as the documentation plainly states you create your cert on a secondary media type, then back that up. Both of those are kept in another location, apart from the server, where they won't be stolen, not part of the same system, room, building or access pattern.

February 1, 2010 3:11 PM

tlm said:

Yes, " The certs should...."

February 1, 2010 4:32 PM

AllenMWhite said:

And this is precisely why this feature should NOT be enterprise edition only.  Most enterprise environments have pretty good security around their physical systems.  It's the smaller shops that can't justify the $25K/core cost of Enterprise that need this protection the most.  (I know it's not your decision, Buck, but it points out how completely out of touch with reality the marketing folks are.)

February 1, 2010 6:59 PM

stuart johnson said:

Absolutely Brilliant! An Outstanding Tut.

But I can not understand, when your changing the Hex value, why does it still run? yes, you said the compiler wont compile it, but the player will run it.

But how?

for example, you did

thetext.text = “ABC”;

and you changed the hex, now it’s:

thetext.%!@$! = “ABC”;

I would love for you to clear this out.

Your from Israel?

I never knew we got super flash Dev’s.

Waiting for more great tuts as this, certainly from you

February 8, 2010 8:03 AM

Amit said:

WHat is Latest Data ENcryption Algorithm Used To encrypt data???

September 23, 2011 12:03 PM
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