We all go to great lengths to make sure that our databases are secure (or at least I really hope that we do), we make sure that only authorised users have access and then only to the databases and levels that they need. We’re careful that all our passwords conform to crazy complexity rules. We’re a pretty security minded lot aren’t we?
But what about our backups? Most of the time they’re just sitting on, either a local disk on the server itself or some share somewhere. Wherever they are, what happens if someone manages to get hold of our backup files? They can easily just restore them onto a server where they have permissions and voila, all our super secret data is now theirs.
They could even just open the files with a hex editor read the data, it’s really not a difficult thing to do.
By default, SQL Server makes absolutely no effort to encrypt or in any way protect our backups. That’s pretty bad in my mind.
If you’re on Standard Edition, this became available in 2014. For Enterprise Edition, it was available earlier. At this point, I don’t think there are good reasons for not encrypting backups on production systems.