On Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 12:23:01PM -0400, Stephen Frost wrote:
> > As I understand it, having encryption in the database means the key is
> > stored in the database, while having encryption in the file system means
> > the key is stored in the operating system somewhere.  
> Key management is an entirely independent discussion from this and the
> proposal from Ants, as I understand it, is that the key would *not* be
> in the database but could be anywhere that a shell command could get it
> from, including possibly a HSM (hardware device).
> Having the data encrypted by PostgreSQL does not mean the key is stored
> in the database.

Yes, I was just simplifying.

> > Of course, if the
> > key stored in the database is visible to someone using the operating
> > system, we really haven't added much/any security --- I guess my point
> > is that the OS easily can hide the key from the database, but the
> > database can't easily hide the key from the operating system.
> This is correct- the key must be available to the PostgreSQL process
> and therefore someone with privileged access to the OS would be able to
> retrieve the key, but that's also true of filesystem encryption.
> Basically, if the server is doing the encryption and you have the
> ability to read all memory on the server then you can get the key.  Of
> course, if you can read all memory then you can just look at shared
> buffers and you don't really need to bother yourself with the key or
> the encryption, and it doesn't make any difference if you're encrypting
> in the database or in the filesystem.  That attack vector is not one
> which this is intending to address.

My point is that if you have the key accessible to the database server,
both the database server and OS have access to it.  If you store it in
the OS, only the OS has access to it.

> > I have to admit we tend to avoid heavy-API solutions that are designed
> > just to work around deployment challenges.  Commercial databases are
> > fine in doing that, but it leads to very complex products.
> I'm not following what you mean here.

By adding all-cluster encryption, we are re-implementing something the
OS does just fine, in most cases.  We are going to have API overhead to
do it in the database, and historically we have avoided that.

> > One cool idea I have is using public encryption to store the encryption
> > key by users who don't know the decryption key, e.g. RSA.  It would be a
> > write-only encryption option.  Not sure how useful that is, but it
> > easily possible, and doesn't require us to keep the _encryption_ key
> > secret, just the decryption one.
> The downside here is that asymmetric encryption is much more expensive
> than symmetric encryption and that probably makes it a non-starter.  I
> do think we'll want to support multiple encryption methods and perhaps
> we can have an option where asymmetric encryption is used, but that's
> not what I expect will be typically used.

Well, usually the symetric key is stored using RSA and a symetric
cipher is used to encrypt/decrypt the data.  I was thinking of a case
where you encrypt a row using a symetric key, then store RSA-encrypted
versions of the symetric key encrypted that only specific users could
decrypt and get the key to decrypt the data.

  Bruce Momjian  <br...@momjian.us>        http://momjian.us
  EnterpriseDB                             http://enterprisedb.com

+ As you are, so once was I.  As I am, so you will be. +
+                      Ancient Roman grave inscription +

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