Directory Server Enterprise Edition provides various features to protect data at the access level, including password authentication, certificate-based authentication, SSL, and proxy authorization. However, the data stored in database files, backup files, and LDIF files must also be protected. The attribute encryption feature prevents users from accessing sensitive data while the data is stored.
Attribute encryption enables certain attributes to be stored in encrypted form. Attribute encryption is configured at the database level. Thus, after an attribute is encrypted, the attribute is encrypted in every entry in the database. Because attribute encryption occurs at the attribute level (not the entry level), the only way to encrypt an entire entry is to encrypt all of its attributes.
Attribute encryption also enables you to export data to another database in an encrypted format. The purpose of attribute encryption is to protect sensitive data only when the data is being stored or exported. Therefore, the encryption is always reversible. Encrypted attributes are decrypted when returned through search requests.
The following figure shows a user entry being added to the database, where attribute encryption has been configured to encrypt the salary attribute.