Encrypted Online Backup (design, thoughts, ask-the-lazyweb)

So after a ever so temporary but loud moment of insanity[1] having a decision made which I very strongly disagreed with (wanting to release online encrypted backup as closed source), we’re back in the world of freedom and the MySQL Server is (and will be) free and open source software (dual licensed, so you can buy a commercial license of the same thing).

[1] Addition (wanting to remove my use of the word): Marten (rightly) points out that although appreciating the new blog posts, he doesn’t appreciate having his decisions called insanity. He’s right. It’s the wrong way to put it. So, without wanting to censor or change history (instead preferring to illustrate my own stupidity and amazing ability to completely say the wrong thing every 6 months or so), I offer this clarification (that i have tried to express in about 3 drafts of blog posts, none of which have made the light of day as i was never really happy with them): the decision was made with all the right intentions (grow the company, end up producing more free software, making sales to enterprises easier, clearer differentiation etc) but it was one that I (and many others) rather strongly disagreed with. In the end, the dicision was made to have these parts as free software and I truly believe that this was made after more arguments were presented by myself (and others) about why having these parts as closed was a bad idea. It is quite the thing to make the decision to make modules for your free software product closed, it is about 15 steps higher to go back on it. I’ll share a phrase I used a few times when being a right nick-picker about things during employment contract negotiation this year (for MySQL Australia and then Sun): “Do I trust Marten? Absolutely. It’s the next guy. Remember, SCO was once Caldera and producing a linux distro and generally considered good.” So, that was more than I intended to write on the subject… but hopefully clarifies that I just thought the decision itself was bad, and am lucky enough to work at a place that encourages discussion when you don’t like things.

So, now I’m involved with writing up the worklog for encryption for the MySQL server native online backup. I also wrote most of the original worklog for compression of online backup (I implemented compressed backup and LCP for MySQl Cluster) as well as some proof-of-concept code (written in <5 minutes at 3am while jetlagged).

There are two main approaches to encryption: symmetric and asymmetric (public key). I think we should support both (but we’ll see what others think).

For symmetric (password based for those not up with the street lingo of crypto) we’re thinking of the following algorithms: 3DES, AES, Blowfish. Are there any others that people care about?

DES is obviously out as it’s not considered secure, and really, we should be helping users to get things right.

For public key: RSA and DSA are the obvious choices.

As for libraries implementing all of these? well….. I’m thinking about libgcrypt – it looks fairly nice and a bit similar to the kernel crypto api (which seems quite nice). Anybody got any other suggestions? Things you’d like to see? thoughts?

EDIT: Server not Service. We sell services, the server is free and open source. I fail.

4 thoughts on “Encrypted Online Backup (design, thoughts, ask-the-lazyweb)

  1. Mike,

    what if the options were algorithm and keysize? so then you could use any keysize the algorithm supports?

    Personally, i think listing out all the options AES128, AES256 etc as individual algorithms would be messy.


    (or something similar)

  2. I agree with MacPlusG3 – allow all variants of alg and keysize as arguments, the same way that you get when creating public keys.


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