Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

11/13/2009
07:00 AM
Adrian Lane
Adrian Lane
Commentary
50%
50%

A Peek At Transparent Database Encryption

There are several different ways to encrypt data stored within databases -- some residing inside the database, others outside. You can encrypt data programmatically at the application layer or at the database layer, and automatically by the OS/file system or by the database engine itself. Each has a slightly different use case, with differing degrees of data security, complexity, and impact on performance.

There are several different ways to encrypt data stored within databases -- some residing inside the database, others outside. You can encrypt data programmatically at the application layer or at the database layer, and automatically by the OS/file system or by the database engine itself. Each has a slightly different use case, with differing degrees of data security, complexity, and impact on performance.Early database encryption options were slow, complex, and bumbled key management. Application layer encryption was no less difficult to implement, but offered greater security and more flexible deployment options. Over time, the problems with database encryption have been mitigated, and the major issues surrounding key management, performance, and ease of deployment are history.

But the biggest change is the ability to deploy encryption transparently -- retrofitting systems without a major rewrite.

Market drivers have changed with the introduction of compliance requirements around data security and privacy. For many compliance initiatives, sensitive data must be encrypted, and the adoption of database encryption has surged in response.

Transparent encryption is the favored choice. Not because it offers greater security, but because these variants are the quickest to implement and the most cost-effective way to retrofit data processing systems to meet compliance mandates.

Transparent database encryption is provided by the database vendors and embedded within most relational database platforms. Cryptographic operations happen behind the scenes and are performed within the database kernel, usually encrypting data blocks before they are written to disk. The term "transparent" is used because it is invisible to the applications that use the database and most importantly, requires no alteration to application or database logic to use. It's almost entirely seamless, and can be activated through minor changes to the database's configuration.

Encryption is applied to all contents of the database, with encryption and decryption operations performed automatically on the user's behalf.

Each database vendor will have slight variations to this model, but they work in essentially the same manner. Some will use encryption keys stored within the database, while others will leverage external key management services. Some will offer table-level granularity, while others encrypt everything. These services are built into the database itself, but require additional licensing fees to use.

In the next post, I'll talk about OS/file-level database encryption, and provide analysis of this and transparent encryption.

Adrian Lane is an analyst/CTO with Securosis LLC, an independent security consulting practice. Special to Dark Reading. Adrian Lane is a Security Strategist and brings over 25 years of industry experience to the Securosis team, much of it at the executive level. Adrian specializes in database security, data security, and secure software development. With experience at Ingres, Oracle, and ... View Full Bio

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/2/2020
Ripple20 Threatens Increasingly Connected Medical Devices
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/30/2020
DDoS Attacks Jump 542% from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020
Dark Reading Staff 6/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-9498
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
Apache Guacamole 1.1.0 and older may mishandle pointers involved inprocessing data received via RDP static virtual channels. If a userconnects to a malicious or compromised RDP server, a series ofspecially-crafted PDUs could result in memory corruption, possiblyallowing arbitrary code to be executed...
CVE-2020-3282
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Session Management Edition, Cisco Unified Communications Manager IM & Presence Service, and Cisco Unity Connection could allow an unauthenticated, remote attack...
CVE-2020-5909
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
In versions 3.0.0-3.5.0, 2.0.0-2.9.0, and 1.0.1, when users run the command displayed in NGINX Controller user interface (UI) to fetch the agent installer, the server TLS certificate is not verified.
CVE-2020-5910
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
In versions 3.0.0-3.5.0, 2.0.0-2.9.0, and 1.0.1, the Neural Autonomic Transport System (NATS) messaging services in use by the NGINX Controller do not require any form of authentication, so any successful connection would be authorized.
CVE-2020-5911
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
In versions 3.0.0-3.5.0, 2.0.0-2.9.0, and 1.0.1, the NGINX Controller installer starts the download of Kubernetes packages from an HTTP URL On Debian/Ubuntu system.