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Fields and Encryption Types

On this page

  • Deterministic Encryption
  • Query for Documents on a Deterministically Encrypted Field
  • Randomized Encryption
  • Support for Encrypting Objects and Arrays
  • Query for Documents on a Randomly Encrypted Field

This page describes the types of encryption used by MongoDB to perform Client-Side Field Level Encryption (CSFLE). To perform CSFLE, MongoDB uses the following types of encryption algorithms:

The deterministic encryption algorithm ensures that a given input value always encrypts to the same output value each time the algorithm is executed. While deterministic encryption provides greater support for read operations, encrypted data with low cardinality is susceptible to frequency analysis recovery.

For sensitive fields that are not used in read operations, applications may use randomized encryption for improved protection from frequency analysis recovery.

Important
Deterministically Encrypting Objects and Arrays not Supported

Encrypting entire objects and arrays is not supported with deterministic encryption. To learn more and see an example, see Support for Encrypting Objects and Arrays.

You can query deterministically encrypted fields using standard MongoDB driver and mongosh methods.

To view the complete list of all supported query operators on deterministically encrypted fields, see Supported Operations for Automatic Encryption.

To learn more about reads on encrypted data, see Encrypted Reads.

Note
Querying from Clients without CSFLE Configured

When you query on an encrypted field using a client that is not configured to use Client-Side Field Level Encryption (CSFLE), the query returns a null value. A client without CSFLE configured cannot query on an encrypted field.

The randomized encryption algorithm ensures that a given input value always encrypts to a different output value each time the algorithm is executed. While randomized encryption provides the strongest guarantees of data confidentiality, it also prevents support for any read operations which must operate on the encrypted field to evaluate the query.

For sensitive fields that are used in read operations, applications must use deterministic encryption for improved read support on encrypted fields.

Encrypting entire objects or arrays is only supported with randomized encryption.

For example, consider the following document:

{
"personal_information" : {
"ssn" : "123-45-6789",
"credit_score" : 750,
"credit_cards" : [ "1234-5678-9012-3456", "9876-5432-1098-7654"]
},
"phone_numbers" : [ "(212) 555-0153" ]
}

Encrypting the personal_information and phone_numbers fields using the randomized encryption algorithm encrypts the entire object. While this protects all fields nested under those fields, it also prevents querying against those nested fields.

To learn more about supported operations for encryption, see Supported Operations for Automatic Encryption.

You cannot directly query for documents on a randomly encrypted field. However, you can use another field to find the document that contains an approximation of the randomly encrypted field data.

For example, consider the following document where the ssn field is randomly encrypted:

{
"_id": "5d6ecdce70401f03b27448fc",
"name": "Jon Doe",
"ssn": 241014209,
"bloodType": "AB+",
"medicalRecords": [
{
"weight": 180,
"bloodPressure": "120/80"
}
],
"insurance": {
"provider": "MaestCare",
"policyNumber": 123142
}
}

Instead of querying the ssn field, you can add another plain-text field called last4ssn that contains the last 4 digits of the ssn field. You can then query on the last4ssn field as a proxy for ssn:

{
"_id": "5d6ecdce70401f03b27448fc",
"name": "Jon Doe",
"ssn": 241014209,
"last4ssn": 4209,
"bloodType": "AB+",
"medicalRecords": [
{
"weight": 180,
"bloodPressure": "120/80"
}
],
"insurance": {
"provider": "MaestCare",
"policyNumber": 123142
}
}
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