Encryption

TileDB allows you to encrypt your arrays at rest. It currently supports a single type of encryption, AES-256 in the GCM mode, which is a symmetric, authenticated encryption algorithm. When creating, reading or writing arrays you must provide the same 256-bit encryption key. The authenticated nature of the encryption scheme means that a message authentication code (MAC) is stored together with the encrypted data, allowing verification that the persisted ciphertext was not modified.

Encryption libraries used:

By default, TileDB caches array data and metadata in main memory after opening and reading from arrays. These caches will store decrypted (plaintext) array data in the case of encrypted arrays. For a bit of extra in-flight security (at the cost of performance), you can disable the TileDB caches (see Configuration Parameters and Configuration).

Encryption key lifetime

TileDB never persists the encryption key, but TileDB does store a copy of the encryption key in main memory while an encrypted array is open. When the array is closed, TileDB will zero out the memory used to store its copy of the key, and free the associated memory.

Performance

Due to the extra processing required to encrypt and decrypt array metadata and attribute data, you may experience lower performance on opening, reading and writing for encrypted arrays.

To mitigate this, TileDB internally parallelizes encryption and decryption using a chunking strategy. Additionally, when compression or other filtering is configured on array metadata or attribute data, encryption occurs last, meaning the compressed (or filtered in general) is what gets encrypted.

Finally, newer generations of some Intel and AMD processors offer instructions for hardware acceleration of encryption and decryption. The encryption libraries that TileDB employs are configured to use hardware acceleration if it is available.