Microsoft Adds To Azure’s Data Security Appeal, New Encryption Features Coming Soon


The cloud, one of the modernizations of big data and the computing industry, has brought about a significant change in the way corporations conduct their business. By using these services, a company can lower its cost of doing business while increasing availability of their services by letting Microsoft, Amazon or Google host their tools and data. But, the question that is always part of the conversation when you let a third-party host your sensitive corporate data is security and Microsoft is taking additionally steps today to help make sure Azure is an industry leader in this field.

To help corporations move to the cloud and feel more secure about this process, Microsoft is announcing new security feature availability for Azure SQL Database. Listed below are the new features that are coming soon in either public preview or in general availability:

  • Always Encrypted will be in public preview by the end of the month. Always Encrypted helps you protect sensitive data without having to relinquish the encryption keys to Azure SQL Database. Data remains encrypted at all times – in transit, in memory, in disk and even during querying processing.
  • Transparent Data Encryption will be generally available by the end of the month.  Transparent Data Encryption helps you meet compliance requirements by encrypting your databases, associated backups, and transaction log files at rest without requiring changes to your applications.
  • Azure SQL Database supports for Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) authentication in public preview now. Azure AD authentication provides an alternative to SQL Authentication. It simplifies password management by allowing you to connect to a number of Azure services including Azure SQL Database using the same identity.
  • Row-Level Security generally available now. Row-Level Security allows access to rows of data based on a user’s identity, role memberships, or query execution context.
  • Dynamic data masking will be generally available by the end of the month. Dynamic data masking lets you define masking patterns on database columns to limit the exposure of sensitive data.
  • Threat Detection will be in public preview by the end of the month.  Threat detection complements Azure SQL Database Auditing and alerts on suspicious database activities at the database or logical server level.

Microsoft is heavily invested in the idea of big data and is always touting its machine learning capabilities; so it’s not a surprise to see them introduce more ways to help convince you to use its cloud offerings by making them more secure. Microsoft also recently announced new features for digging through big data as well, called U-SQL, that is available in Azure’s Data Lake service.

If the cloud isn’t your thing but you still want this type of data security, these tools will be coming with SQL Server 2016 too. For more information about these features and how to implement them with your own databases, you can find that content here.