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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

SQL Server Encryption & HSM Key Management for the Mid-Market

Posted by Patrick Townsend on Aug 22, 2011 9:00:00 PM

Mid-size companies are under attack like never before, and breaches and financial losses are on the rise. The attacks are usually not that sophisticated - we are talking about the usual security weaknesses which include the lack of encryption and good encryption key management. So, if we know what the problems are, why are so many companies still vulnerable?

I think I know a big part of the answer: cost and complexity.

Mid–market companies are very sensitive to the cost of any IT project that does not contribute directly to the bottom line. And the more complex a project is, the higher the cost. For better or worse, encryption is viewed as a terribly complex, time-consuming, and costly project. Despite the obvious financial pain that a breach causes, and despite the fact that compliance regulations such as PCI DSS, HIPAA and the HITECH Act, GLBA and FFIEC, and state privacy laws encourage encryption and provide safe harbors when it is used, it just doesn’t get done.

encryption key management hsm sql
Alliance Key Manager for SQL Server

That’s why I am really happy about our announcement today of an affordable and easy-to-deploy encryption key management HSM solution for Microsoft SQL Server. Building on our existing FIPS 140-2 certified Alliance Key Manager solution, our new encryption key management HSM offering for Microsoft SQL Server puts encrypting sensitive data within the reach of any company. With an affordable entry point, it can fit within the budget of most companies. And enabling encryption in the database does not require expensive programming resources. Your database administrator or your favorite solution integrator can get the job done very quickly. You can find out more about Alliance Key Manager for SQL Server here.

Microsoft deserves a lot of credit for opening the door to easier compliance. The SQL Server Extensible Key Management (EKM) architecture provides a straight-forward path to implementing encryption and key management. EKM is the strategic architecture for encryption in current and future releases of SQL Server.  With the Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) option of EKM, they even made the process simple to deploy. Microsoft created a door for third party vendors of key management HSMs to enter, but there have been few entries in this area. Our new Alliance Key Manager for SQL Server HSM will knock down those cost and complexity barriers for mid-market companies.

Independent Software Vendors and Solution Integrators are also a very important part of the Microsoft SQL Server ecology. Software developers have created thousands of applications on top of SQL Server, and mid size companies look to ISVs to solve difficult compliance issues for them. Along with our release of our HSM for SQL Server, we are inviting ISVs to join our partner program and realize the benefits of simple and cost effective data protection. We are making it easy for ISVs to integrate encryption and key management directly into their applications. Partners can get more information here.

Lastly, did you know that SQL Server is the data store technology for many of Microsoft’s products? For example, SQL Server is the underlying data store for Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics. With SharePoint 2010 you get full support for SQL Server EKM encryption. Worried about sensitive data in your SharePoint collaboration environments? There’s a solution for that!

I will be writing more about our new SQL Server HSM for encryption key management over the next few days. There are some really nice features in the product that deserve a deeper look. For more information on view our webinar "Encryption Key Mangagment with SQL Server".  This webinar is informative on just how easy it is to implement encryption key management on your SQL server. 


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Topics: Encryption, SQL, Encryption Key Management

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