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What is database encryption?
For businesses across sectors, compromised data can be incredibly costly, resulting in burdensome expenses, legal repercussions, and reduced customer trust. To protect their reputations and bottom lines, organizations are investing in proven data security practices like database encryption.
Database encryption is the process of encoding plain, human-readable data with an encryption algorithm. The purpose of database encryption is to make data indecipherable to any person or device other than the owner of the encryption key, which is generated during the encryption process.
There are three main data principles in database encryption:Footnote 1
Confidentiality: The encryption key is only given to authorized people and organizations. There are also predefined restrictions on accessing protected data.
Integrity: Data cannot be altered or manipulated by outside entities.
Availability: Data is always available in a timely and reliable fashion.
Database encryption can be useful for any organization with sensitive data. For instance, if a hospital wants to limit access to patient data, it could use a database encryption technique to prevent anyone off premises from accessing it.
Database encryption is also useful for cases when end users remotely interface with a database via a web application. If an end user somehow manages to bypass the organization’s security credentials, database encryption ensures that any data they retrieve is essentially meaningless; without the encryption key, they can’t make sense of it.
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Database encryption course curriculum
Courses that include database encryption typically cover topics like:
Cryptography: This is highly relevant to database encryption as it involves the creation and use of encryption algorithms and systems to conceal private data and protect personal autonomy.
Programming: Cybersecurity specialists use programming languages to create cryptographic algorithms — the foundation of database encryption.
Computer forensics: Computer forensics is the study of cybercrime investigation and prevention. Database encryption and decryption knowledge is invaluable for gleaning insights from corrupted or deleted data.
Information technology: Database encryption is a powerful way to store information so that malicious actors can’t access it.
Big data: With database encryption techniques, you can quickly encrypt and decrypt large data sets at scale.
edX offers a variety of courses and programs that cover database encryption to help new and experienced developers learn valuable database encryption skills.
Explore database encryption jobs
An expertise in database encryption can lead to exciting opportunities in many different sectors. Database encryption jobs can include:
Information security analyst: These analysts craft and enact security plans to defend their organization from cyberattacks. They use database encryption techniques to obfuscate data from cyberattackers.Footnote 2
Data engineer: Data engineers construct and maintain databases. They use coding skills to encrypt databases that contain user and proprietary information.Footnote 3
Database administrator: These professionals build and organize data storage systems for their organizations. Database encryption is often crucial to both database installation and maintenance.Footnote 4
Software engineer: Data security plays an important role in computer science. Software engineers in any industry will likely need knowledge of database encryption technologies and techniques.
Learning database encryption on its own may not mean that you have the skills required for all database encryption jobs listed above. Some may require enhanced technical skills achieved through boot camps, or additional educational requirements such as a bachelor's degree or master’s degree.
How to become a database encryption specialist
Learning database encryption includes an introduction to many technical topics and technologies. Each is vital for real-world database encryption efforts. You may explore database encryption techniques and technologies like:
Symmetric encryption. This database encryption method generates one secret encryption key for encrypting and decrypting data. Two people — a sender and receiver — both need access to the key before the database can be decrypted.
Asymmetric encryption. This method uses an encryption and decryption key. One of the two keys is public while the other is kept private by the owner. Both are generated and linked during the encryption process.Footnote 5
Programming languages. Languages like Java and Python are useful for analyzing and mining data concealed through database encryption.Footnote 6
Database query languages. Languages like SQL and GraphQL are pivotal for managing and analyzing both encrypted and decrypted data that lives in relational databases.Footnote 7
Data technologies. Structures, file formats, and sources must be understood before you can safely encrypt and decrypt data.
If you’re ready to start learning database encryption, you can explore online bachelor of data science and computer science programs or a data analytics boot camp. If you want to continue to further your education to help prepare for a database encryption career, you can then enroll in an online data science master’s program.