SQL Server Column Encryption

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When the most valuable component in your environment is storing sensitive data, doing so in clear text and relying on other security mechanisms to protect the data has come and gone.  As companies begin to use SQL Server for all their mission critical applications, data encryption has becomes a feature that is often needed to protect the data.  Moreover, legislation and growing security concerns have brought data security to the forefront of many IT shops things to do list.



Unfortunately, SQL Server 2000 has no native capabilities to encrypt a column.  Companies use a third party product to meet this need.  Here are some products on the market:

With SQL Server 2005, native encryption capabilities are available.  In this article (How To: Encrypt a Column of Data) an example is provided to build the following:
  • Master key
  • Certificate
  • Symmetric key
  • Apply the encryption key to the column


Next Steps
  • Work with your business and legal teams to understand which data needs to be protected and how it is currently being protected.  Ask the question - 'Are these security measures acceptable?' and see if column level encryption is necessary.
  • Determine other portions of your data that require encryption such as communications, file systems, files, backups, etc.
  • Take some time to review and test these technologies to determine if they are suitable for your needs.
  • Work with your team to rollout this level of security to properly protect your data.

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Jeremy Kadlec Jeremy Kadlec is a Co-Founder, Editor and Author at MSSQLTips.com with more than 300 contributions. He is also the CTO @ Edgewood Solutions and a six-time SQL Server MVP. Jeremy brings 20+ years of SQL Server DBA and Developer experience to the community after earning a bachelor's degree from SSU and master's from UMBC.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

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Comments For This Article

Friday, May 31, 2013 - 3:43:26 PM - Jeremy Kadlec Back To Top (25221)


I would check out NetLib - http://www.netlib.com/default.asp.

Let them know you heard about them from MSSQLTips.com.

Thank you,
Jeremy Kadlec
Community Co-Leader

Friday, May 31, 2013 - 3:02:45 PM - Jeremy Kadlec Back To Top (25218)


Let me look into this a little bit and see what I can find out.  I am not sure about the third party support.

Thank you,
Jeremy Kadlec
Community Co-Leader

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 11:09:27 AM - hassan Back To Top (25183)

thank you Jeremy for this article, however I have a question, what about sql server versions prior to 2000 (6.5 for example), are there any third parties to encrypt data? I have tried  XP_Crypt but it does not wwork...

thank you in advance for your help

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