In my last post, I talked about the process of rotating your encryption keys. It’s just one of those routine maintenance tasks that need to be done from time to time in order to keep your encryption strong for the long haul. One type of rotation I didn’t address in that post was rotation for Always Encrypted, SQL Server’s newest form of encryption.
If you recall, Always Encrypted has two associated keys: a Column Master Key and a Column Encryption Key. The Column Encryption Key (CEK) is a symmetric key, stored in SQL Server. Like other symmetric keys, the CEK is not changed during a rotation. The Column Master Key (CMK), on the other hand, is a certificate, similar to the certificates we’ve used for transparent data encryption and for in-column encryption, and it therefore needs to be rotated regularly. The biggest difference is that the CMK is stored outside of SQL Server, in the Windows certificate store by default, so DBAs may need assistance from their Windows administrators or security administrators.
Read on to see what you need to do.