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      roundel-database-and-shileld-01Hey there, DBA squad!
      Following our general introduction to encryption in database security, let’s dive deeper into the world of encryption types.

      Each type of encryption has its strengths, and understanding these can be your secret weapon in fortifying your database.

      As a DBA, knowing your encryption ABCs is not just about ticking a box in your security checklist. It's about making informed choices that align with your database's specific needs and vulnerabilities.

      Each type of encryption has its strengths, and understanding these can be your secret weapon in fortifying your database. So, buckle up as we decrypt the different types of encryption and why they matter to you.

      Understanding different encryption types

      Encryption, in simple terms, is like a secret code that keeps your data safe. But not all secret codes are created equal. Here are the main types of encryption and their superpowers:

      Symmetric encryptionroundel-blog-07-encryption-symmetric

      Symmetric encryption uses the same key for both encryption and decryption. Think of it as a single key that locks and unlocks your treasure chest. Two popular algorithms you may be familiar with are AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and DES (Data Encryption Standard).

      The main strength of symmetric encryption is that it is fast and efficient making it ideal for encrypting large volumes of data quickly. It is great for scenarios where data doesn’t need to be transmitted over insecure channels. This is why this type of encryption is usually used for encryption at rest. Fujitsu Enterprise Postgres uses AES 256-bit encryption to encrypt data stored on disk.

      Asymmetric encryptionroundel-blog-07-encryption-asymmetric

      Asymmetric encryption involves two keys - a public key for encryption and a private key for decryption. Well known algorithms include RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman), ECC (Elliptic Curve Cryptography).

      The main strength of asymmetric encryption is that it is extremely secure, as the private key never needs to be transmitted or shared. This makes it ideal for encrypting data that needs to be sent over public networks or where secure key exchange is challenging. Asymmetric encryption is used for encryption in transit in Fujitsu Enterprise Postgres due to this strength.

      Hash functionsroundel-blog-07-encryption-hash-function

      Hash functions convert data into a fixed-size scrambled string of characters, regardless of the data’s original size. They are slightly different to the previously mentioned encryption types because they are one way. Common examples of hash algorithms are SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm), MD5 (Message-Digest Algorithm 5).

      One of their strengths is that they are useful for validating the integrity of data. The output (hash) is unique to the input data, even a tiny change in data results in a completely different hash. This makes them useful for password storage, ensuring data hasn’t been tampered with, and digital signatures. PostgreSQL and Fujitsu Enterprise Postgres supports MD5 password hashing, though this has now been superseded with Salted Challenge Response Authentication Mechanism (SCRAM), a much more secure hashing algorithm.

      Why understanding this matters for a Database Administrator

      img-woman-in-front-of-wall-with-hieroglyphs-as-encryption-01-variation-01As a database administrator, you’re not just managing data; you’re also its guardian. Here’s why understanding these encryption types is critical:

      • Tailored security strategy

        Different data types and scenarios require different encryption methods. Knowing the strengths of each type helps you craft a security strategy that’s as unique as your data.

      • Performance considerations

        Encryption can impact database performance. Symmetric encryption, being faster, might be more suitable for high-volume transactions, whereas asymmetric encryption could be reserved for sensitive data requiring secure transmission.

      • Compliance and standards

        Various regulations and industry standards mandate specific encryption types and standards. A thorough understanding helps ensure compliance.

      • Data integrity and confidentiality

        Using the right encryption type ensures not just confidentiality, but also the integrity of your data.


      In the world of database security, encryption is your silent, stalwart hero. Whether it’s symmetric encryption’s speed, asymmetric encryption’s security in open channels, or the integrity assurance of hash functions, each type plays a crucial role. As database administrators, understanding these types not only elevates our security game but also empowers us to make smarter, more informed decisions tailored to our database environments. Stay encrypted, stay secure!

      Next in this series

      My next article will discuss asset and risk management for DBAs, which are the first 2 activities to align with the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Cybersecurity Identify pillar.

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      Topics: PostgreSQL, Fujitsu Enterprise Postgres, Data governance, Security, "Database security" blog series

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      Gary Evans
      Senior Offerings and Center of Excellence Manager
      Gary Evans heads the Center of Excellence team at Fujitsu Software, providing expert services for customers in relation to PostgreSQL and Fujitsu Enterprise Postgres.
      He previously worked in IBM, Cable and Wireless based in London and the Inland Revenue Department of New Zealand, before joining Fujitsu. With over 15 years’ experience in database technology, Gary appreciates the value of data and how to make it accessible across your organization.
      Gary loves working with organizations to create great outcomes through tailored data services and software.
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