Data encryption of a table in SQL Server is done at the column level, column by column, and utilizes symmetric encryption. The following steps detail how this process occurs within SQL Server:

  • A database master key is created
  • A self-signed certificate is created which will be protected by the database master key
  • A symmetric encryption key to be used for the column level encryption is created from the certificate
  • The table is then encrypted with the EncryptByKey function using the symmetric key and the name of the certificate

To decrypt data, the DecryptByKey function is called, which also requires the symmetric key and the name of the certificate.

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Plaintext can refer to anything which humans can understand and/or relate to. This may be as simple as English sentences, a script, or Java code. If you can make sense of what is written, then it is in plaintext.

Ciphertext, or encrypted text, is a series of randomized letters and numbers which humans cannot make any sense of. An encryption algorithm takes in a plaintext message, runs the algorithm on the plaintext, and produces a ciphertext. The ciphertext can be reversed through the process of decryption, to produce the original plaintext.

Example: We will encrypt a sentence using Caesar Cipher. The key is 7, which means the letter a becomes h.

Plaintext: This is a plaintext.

Ciphertext: Aopz pz h wshpualea.

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A process which reverses the process of encryption. Using the key, the ciphertext will be converted back to plaintext.

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