Encrypting Backup Files

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Because backup files are often sent off-site for disaster recovery or long-term archival purposes, it is important that encrypted databases have their backup files encrypted as well.

A database encrypted at the database or column level must be backed up as encrypted. There is no override or “backdoor” to back up an encrypted database in unencrypted form. To allow a regular, unencrypted database backup, the user would have to manually make a file copy of the database and alter the database copy to decrypt all pages and columns and drop all encryptions. The GBAK utility provides three additional switches to facilitate encrypt and decrypt operations on database backups.

The GBAK utility uses the -encrypt and -decrypt switches to provide the information required to encrypt and decrypt a database backup. The -sep switch is used to pass the system encryption password of the database that is being backed up and restored. If the -sep switch is not provided, InterBase automatically provides the value associated with the ISC_SYSTEM_ENCRYPT_PASSWORD environment variable (when the variable has been defined).

Important: Starting with InterBase XE, all encrypted databases (AES or DES) can only be backed up or restored using the “-se service” option. Only service-side backups are allowed for encrypted databases thus making data visibility more secure; this inhibits any potential process-space view of unencrypted data on a normal backup client.

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