The Basics Of Always Encrypted

Josip Saban has an article on Always Encrypted in SQL Server 2016:

Always Encrypted is a client-side encryption technology that Microsoft introduced with SQL Server 2016. Always Encrypted keeps data automatically encrypted, not only when it is written, but also when it is read by an approved application. Unlike Transparent Data Encryption, which encrypts the data and log files on disk in real time but allows the data to be read by any application that queries the data, Always Encrypted requires your client application to use an Always Encrypted-enabled driver to communicate with the database. By using this driver, the application securely transfers encrypted data to the database that can then be decrypted later only by an application that has access to the encryption key. Any other application querying the data can also retrieve the encrypted values, but that application cannot use the data without the encryption key, thereby rendering the data useless. Because of this encryption architecture, the SQL Server instance never sees the unencrypted version of the data.

At this time, the only Always Encrypted-enabled drivers are the .NET Framework Data Provider for SQL Server, which requires installation of .NET Framework version 4.6 on the client computer, and the JDBC 6.0 driver. That will probably change in time, but these are the official Always Encrypted requirements as of April 2017.

This is a good intro to the topic if you aren’t familiar and are thinking of migrating to SQL Server 2016 or later.

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