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I have a database which uses a symmetric key to encrypt a credit card field. There is a trigger on the credit_card field which runs every time it is updated, to encrypt the contents, and save it to another field called credit_card_encrypted and then it wipes the contents of credit_card.

I have recently setup replication on the table, to another instance of SQL Server. Everything works fine except, I am unable to decrypt the data on the replicated server.

I have imported the certificate and the key and I have created a symmetric key however, whenever I try to decrypt the credit cards, it just returns NULL.

I have tried to manually add a value to the credit_card field on the replication server, and then I manually encrypted it, and I was actually able to successfully decrypt it.

So why can I not decrypt the data that is replicated?

Also, I can compare the varbinary data of the encrypted card and the contents looks exactly the same on the main server & the replication server.

e.g: 0x000CE24D0120A349PPL29D6BFE70C54E0100000064E3380AA4EC04A4B4E959535798696E81502A063617B21CFD75FAFF93866D47603543A5D6EBECDF5F8C0D23D8CCL982

  • Can you include the code you're using in your trigger to encrypt the data and your SELECT query to decrypt it? – HandyD Jul 8 at 5:50
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I have imported the certificate and the key and I have created a symmetric key however, whenever I try to decrypt the credit cards, it just returns NULL.

If the symmetric key you are talking about is one you've manually created in the user database then you'll need to create it with the same initialization vector as the previous one by specifying a Key_Source and the same algorithm. If you haven't done this (or restored the database containing the same key) then that's your issue.

Here is a walk through to show you how to create the same symmetric keys in multiple databases.

  • This is what I ran, in both instances: CREATE SYMMETRIC KEY KEY_NAME WITH ALGORITHM = AES_128 ENCRYPTION BY CERTIFICATE cert_name; – cleverpaul Jul 8 at 2:54
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    @cleverpaul Right, so you have two different symmetric keys at this point. See my answer above, you'll need to backup and restore the certificate from the original but you can't do that with symmetric keys so the initialization on them must be the same, as a I've stated. – Sean says Remove Sara Chipps Jul 8 at 9:45

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