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Oleksii Kondratiuk for Base Blocks tech

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How-to #1. Data encryption.

Preface

Pretty much every developer faces a lot of challenges along his career. Especially if you work on a lot of different projects and assigned a variety of diverse tasks. Of course, most of them are pretty obvious and requires knowledge that you already have. But some amount of them requires an understanding of the specifics. That is why I start a series of how-to blog posts. I want to share my practical experience in frameworks, databases, servers, clouds, etc. I hope this will help someone get a better knowledge of them, spend less time wondering how to do this or that, and be more productive in general.

Data encryption

Each and every user wants their data to be in safe. No matter if it is his progress in learning something in some online system or his money in online banking. We all want this data to be protected. That is also why GDPR and other regulations appeared. I will cover how to make sensitive data encrypted in the SQL database if you use Java and such technologies like Spring and Hibernate.

Project overview

It is a practical guide, so let`s build some small project which we will utilize to master this topic. Assume you build a microservice that is responsible to store user data. Not authenticate, but just storing whatever is specific to the user.

Motivation

Birthdate, country of origin, address, etc. All this is sensitive data that is not subject to sharing to third parties and even to the employees of the company where you work. Obviously you should restrict access to production servers and databases, make sure that your APIs do not allow you to get data of some other person, but these measures restrict access to the data. Data itself is still vulnerable - if someone gets access to the database then we are in trouble. Let`s see how we can fix this.

Requirements

  1. Data should be stored encrypted in the database.
  2. Encryption should happen when data stored in the database.
  3. Decryption should happen each time we get data from the database.

Tech solution

There are different ways how to implement this. We will focus on one specific now. Hibernate converters and Java encryption capabilities are going to be used for the solution.

Let`s start with our model:

@Entity
@Data
@Table(name = "bb_user")
@EqualsAndHashCode(onlyExplicitlyIncluded = true)
public class User {

    @Id
    @GeneratedValue
    @EqualsAndHashCode.Include
    private Long id;

    @Convert(converter = StringAttributeConverter.class)
    private String name;
    private String token;
}

As you most probably noticed, there is Convert annotation from javax.persistence package. Its role here to trigger StringAttributeConverter exactly at the moments when we need it. Here its source code:

@Component
public class StringAttributeConverter implements 
AttributeConverter<String, String> {
    @Autowired
    private Encryptor encryptor;

    @Override
    public String convertToDatabaseColumn(String attribute) {
        return encryptor.encrypt(attribute);
    }

    @Override
    public String convertToEntityAttribute(String dbData) {
         return encryptor.decrypt(dbData);
    }
}

convertToDatabaseColumn method is triggered when the entity is saved to the database or an existing record is updated. In our case encryptor is triggered to encrypt data. The field value for which the method is executed(name in our case) will be substituted with the value produced by this method before the flush of the transaction.
convertToEntityAttribute method obviously is triggered at the moment when the entity is obtained from the database. The result of method execution is decrypted name.
The repository for this entity is a simple implementor of the Spring Data`s CrudRepository, no additional implementation needed on the repository level:

public interface UserRepository extends CrudRepository<User, Long> {

    Optional<User> findByToken(String token);
}

Encryptor interface is created in case if we will want to change encryption implementation:

public interface Encryptor {

    String encrypt(String plainText);

    String decrypt(String encryptedString);
}

Standard Java encryption capabilities are used with AES encryption for the implementer:

@Component
public class AesEncryptor implements Encryptor {
    private static final Logger LOGGER = 
LoggerFactory.getLogger(AesEncryptor.class);
    private static final String TRANSFORMATION = 
"AES/ECB/PKCS5Padding";
    private static final String UTF_8 = "UTF-8";

    @Autowired
    private SecretKeySpec secretKey;

    @Override
    public String encrypt(String plainText) {
        LOGGER.info("Encrypted field {}", plainText);

        try {
            Cipher cipher = 
Cipher.getInstance(TRANSFORMATION);
            cipher.init(Cipher.ENCRYPT_MODE, secretKey);
            Base64.Encoder encoder = Base64.getEncoder();
            byte[] stringBytes = plainText.getBytes(UTF_8);
            return 
 encoder.encodeToString(cipher.doFinal(stringBytes));
        } catch (Exception e) {
            throw new RuntimeException("Could not handle the encryption");
        }
    }

    @Override
    public String decrypt(String encryptedString) {
        LOGGER.info("Decrypted field {}", encryptedString);
        try {
            Cipher cipher = 
Cipher.getInstance(TRANSFORMATION);
            cipher.init(Cipher.DECRYPT_MODE, secretKey);
            Base64.Decoder decoder = Base64.getDecoder();
            return new 
String(cipher.doFinal(decoder.decode(encryptedString)));
        } catch (Exception e) {
            throw new RuntimeException("Could not handle the decryption", e); 
        }
    }
}

And the last piece here is the secret key that is used for the encryption/decryption process. Here is the configuration class which includes secret key bean creation:

@Configuration
public class ApplicationConfiguration {

    @Value("${encryption.key}")
    private String encryptionKey;

    @Bean
    public SecretKeySpec secretKey() throws 
UnsupportedEncodingException, NoSuchAlgorithmException {
        byte[] keyBytes = encryptionKey.getBytes("UTF-8");
        MessageDigest sha = MessageDigest.getInstance("SHA-1");
        keyBytes = sha.digest(keyBytes);
        keyBytes = Arrays.copyOf(keyBytes, 16);
        return new SecretKeySpec(keyBytes, "AES");
    }
}

The full source code is available in GitHub repo

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