Monday, August 06, 2007

Encryption [DB2 9 for z/OS]

DB2 V9 offers some encryption news, but we need to go back a version to start the story. You see, DB2 supports encryption in Version 8 through encryption functions that need to be explicitly coded in order to encrypt and decrypt data.

These functions (ENCRYPT and DECRYPT) allow you to encrypt and decrypt data at the column level. Because you can specify a different password for every row that you insert, you are encrypting data at the “cell” level in your tables. If you use these functions to encrypt your data, be sure to put some mechanism in place to manage the passwords that are used to encrypt the data. Without the password, there is absolutely no way to decrypt the data.

To assist you in remembering the password, you have an option to specify a hint (for the password) at the time you encrypt the data. The following SQL example shows an INSERT that encrypts the SSN ( social security number ) using a password and a hint:

VALUES(ENCRYPT('289-46-8832','TARZAN','? AND JANE'));

The password is “TARZAN” and the hint we’ve chosen to provide is “? AND JANE”… so the hint will prompt us to think of Tarzan as the companion of Jane.

In order to retrieve the encrypted data you will need to use the DECRYPT function supplying the correct password. This is shown in the following SELECT statement:


If we fail to supply a password, or the wrong password, the data is returned in an encrypted format that is unreadable.

The result of encrypting data using the ENCRYPT function is VARCHAR FOR BIT DATA. The encryption algorithm is an internal algorithm. For those who care to know, it uses Triple DES cipher block chaining (CBC) with padding and the 128-bit secret key is derived from the password using an MD5 hash.

When defining columns to contain encrypted data the DBA must be involved because the data storage required is significantly different. The length of the column has to include the length of the non-encrypted data + 24 bytes + the number of bytes to the next 8 byte boundary + 32 bytes for the hint.

OK, that is all V8 stuff and this series of blog postings is supposed to be about V9 functionality, right? So what about version 9? Well, DB2 9 for z/OS offers some nice improvements to encryption support. Firstly, DB2 can take advantage of encryption hardware advances.

CP Assist for Cryptographic Function, aka CPACF, is available on z990 hardware. CPACF can run on all the CPUs, but remember, this feature is available only on z990 and later machines, not the older z900. The z990 also introduces a PCIXCC card which is needed for the IBM Data Encryption Tool, but not for the DB2 encryption functions.

Note: The IBM Data Encryption Tool (available from IBM at an additional price) offers encryption for DB2 tables at the table level, whereas the encryption functions (free with DB2) offer encryption at the column level.

The CP Assist for Cryptographic Function delivers cryptographic support on every CP with Data Encryption Standard (DES), Triple DES (TDES), and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)-128 bit data encryption/decryption, as well as Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA-1) and SHA-256 hashing. For a more detailed discussion of CPACF, associated technology and functionality, check out the following IBM redbook: IBM eServer zSeries 990 (z990) Cryptography Implementation (SG24-7070).

Basically, the net result is that the cost of encrypting DB2 data under V9 is reduced on the z990 hardware.

Additionally, IBM has added encryption support in the controllers of its storage devices.

Both the IBM TS1120 tape drive and IBM Ultrium 4 tape drives include data encryption capabilities within the drives. This support can allow you to avoid the need for host-based encryption of data or the use of specialized encryption appliances. In addition, IBM claims that the encryption does not significantly impact the performance of the drives so there should be minimal to no impact on the batch processing window when encrypting in this manner.

So far, we’ve been talking about encryption for data at rest. But DB2 9 for z/OS also improves support for encryption of data in transit. DB2 9 supports the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol by implementing the z/OS Communications Server IP Application Transparent Transport Layer Security (AT-TLS) function. The z/OS V1R7 Communications Server for TCP/IP introduces the AT-TLS function in the TCP/IP stack for applications that require secure TCP/IP connections. AT-TLS performs transport layer security on behalf of the application, in this case DB2 for z/OS, by invoking the z/OS system SSL in the TCP layer of the TCP/IP stack. The z/OS system SSL provides support for TLS V1.0, SSL V3.0, and SSL V2.0 protocols.

So encryption of data over the wire is improved in z/OS 1.7. The Communications Server supports AT-TLS, which uses SSL data encryption. Now SSL encryption has been available on z/OS for a long time, but now DB2 9 for z/OS makes use of this facility and offers SSL encryption using a new secure port.

When acting as a requester, DB2 for z/OS can request a connection using the secure port of another DB2 subsystem. When acting as a server, and from within a trusted context (I’ll discuss trusted context in a later DB2portal blog entry), SSL encryption can be required for the connection.

So, little by little, better encryption support is being made available within the world of DB2 for z/OS.


Mea Culpa said...

Sorry to comment on a post that is that old already. I just wanted to add that the ENCRYPT and DECRYPT functionality can also work on column level.

The main disadvantage of cell level encryption is that only one result can be retrieved at a time because only one password can be supplied for a call.

To have column level encryption you first have to set the session encryption password:

From then on a call to ENCRYPT_*() and DECRYPT_*() can be issued without providing a password. This may ease up some queries. ;-)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comment Mea about the SSL Encryption password. It really clarified things for me!

JP said...

That's helpful!

Unknown said...

The above detailed helped me a lot. I do also wanted to add that Mea posted a very important and useful detail about encrypt and decrypt functionality.
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