SQL Server 2016: Always Encrypted Feature

We all would have loved to be sitting in a seat during the Microsoft Ignite conference to listen to Satya Nadella lecture about building better processes and increasing productivity for businesses and IT professionals during his keynote speech on May 4th. But thanks to another great developer community, Channel 9, the keynote and over 200 plus sessions are available for public consumption.

I want to explain today a new feature, Always Encrypted, that was highlighted in the SQL Server Evolution session presented by Rohan Kumar. In a world where there are more devices than people and data grows at a 60% increase year by year, data security is a prominent topic for debate, especially here in western society.

Always Encrypted is based on technology from Microsoft Research. Always Encrypted utilizes an enhanced ADO.NET client-side library and cipher text to encrypt and decrypt data. This allows data to be protected at rest in our storage medium of choice and in motion when moving across the wire. Yes, encryption and decryption of data at rest was introduced with the Transparent Data Encryption feature in SQL Server 2008 but I want to reiterate that Always Encrypted protects data in motion. This will help further alleviate man-in-the-middle attacks. When data arrives at the client, it is decrypted for consumption. Also, SQL Server can do standard query operations on the encrypted data with the encryption key residing with your application in a trusted environment. Check out the session to see these query operations in action.

This data improvement will drive customers to feel that their data is secure and will be fully compliant with SQL Server on-premises and in the cloud. Other security enhancements coming to SQL Server 2016 mentioned in the session include row-level security and dynamic data masking. A couple these security improvements came with Microsoft's acquisition of Revolution Analytics in January 2015 and the introduction of the R programming language to SQL Server 2016 shall increase the productivity workload of our wonderful C# Corner community.