Encrypting Your Data

  • how-to
    A practical guide for getting started with Field-Level Encryption, showing how to encrypt and decrypt JSON fields using the Go SDK.

    For a high-level overview of this feature, see Field Level Encryption.


    The Go SDK works together with the Go Couchbase Encryption library to provide support for encryption and decryption of JSON fields. This library makes use of the cryptographic algorithms available on your platform, and provides a framework for implementing your own crypto components.

    The encryption code is packaged as an optional library and is subject to the Couchbase License and Enterprise Subscription License agreements. To use the encryption library, you have to explicitly include this dependency in your project configuration.

    To get started with the Go encryption library you can fetch it using:

    $ go get github.com/couchbase/gocbencryption/v2.0.0


    The Go Field-Level Encryption library works on the principle of Encrypters and Decrypters which can be packaged within a Provider, as well as a custom Transcoder. Encrypters and Decrypters are registered with a CryptoManager and are then used at serialization/deserialization time to encrypt and decrypt annotated fields.

    Here we’ll go through an example of setting up and using the Go Field-Level Encryption library.

    To begin we need to create a couple of keys, you should not use the InsecureKeyring other than for evaluation purposes and should keep your keys secure.

    	keyB := []byte{0x00, 0x01, 0x02, 0x03, 0x04, 0x05, 0x06, 0x07, 0x08, 0x09, 0x0a, 0x0b, 0x0c, 0x0d, 0x0e, 0x0f,
    		0x10, 0x11, 0x12, 0x13, 0x14, 0x15, 0x16, 0x17, 0x18, 0x19, 0x1a, 0x1b, 0x1c, 0x1d, 0x1e, 0x1f,
    		0x20, 0x21, 0x22, 0x23, 0x24, 0x25, 0x26, 0x27, 0x28, 0x29, 0x2a, 0x2b, 0x2c, 0x2d, 0x2e, 0x2f,
    		0x30, 0x31, 0x32, 0x33, 0x34, 0x35, 0x36, 0x37, 0x38, 0x3f, 0x3f, 0x3f, 0x3f, 0x3d, 0x3e, 0x3f,
    	key1 := gocbfieldcrypt.Key{
    		ID:    "mykey",
    		Bytes: keyB,
    	key2 := gocbfieldcrypt.Key{
    		ID:    "myotherkey",
    		Bytes: keyB,
    	// Create an insecure keyring and add two keys.
    	keyring := gocbfieldcrypt.NewInsecureKeyring()

    Now that we have keys we can create a Provider (here we use the AeadAes256CbcHmacSha512 algorithm which is the default supplied by the library). The Provider gives us a way to easily create multiple encrypters for the same algorithm but different keys. At this point we also create CryptoManager and register our encrypters and decrypters with it.

    	// Create a provider.
    	// AES-256 authenticated with HMAC SHA-512. Requires a 64-byte key.
    	provider := gocbfieldcrypt.NewAeadAes256CbcHmacSha512Provider(keyring)
    	// Create the manager and add the providers.
    	mgr := gocbfieldcrypt.NewDefaultCryptoManager(nil)
    	// We need to create and then register encrypters.
    	// The keyID here is used by the encrypter to lookup the key from the store when encrypting a document.
    	// The key.ID returned from the store at encryption time is written into the data for the field to be encrypted.
    	// The key ID that was written is then used on the decrypt side to find the corresponding key from the store.
    	keyOneEncrypter := provider.EncrypterForKey(key1.ID)
    	// We register the providers for both encryption and decryption.
    	// The alias used here is the value which corresponds to the "encrypted" field annotation.
    	err := mgr.RegisterEncrypter("one", keyOneEncrypter)
    	if err != nil {
    	err = mgr.RegisterEncrypter("two", provider.EncrypterForKey(key2.ID))
    	if err != nil {
    	// We don't need to add a default encryptor but if we do then any fields with an
    	// empty encrypted tag will use this encryptor.
    	err = mgr.DefaultEncrypter(keyOneEncrypter)
    	if err != nil {
    	// We only set one decrypter per algorithm.
    	// The crypto manager will work out which decrypter to use based on the `alg` field embedded in the field data.
    	// The decrypter will use the key embedded in the field data to determine which key to fetch from the key store for decryption.
    	err = mgr.RegisterDecrypter(provider.Decrypter())
    	if err != nil {

    Now we can create a Transcoder using our CryptoManager. Once created we need to register the Transcoder with the SDK.

    	// Create our transcoder, not setting a base transcoder will cause it to fallback to the
    	// SDK JSON transcoder.
    	transcoder := gocbfieldcrypt.NewTranscoder(nil, mgr)
    	// Register the encryption transcoder with the SDK.
    	opts := gocb.ClusterOptions{
    		Authenticator: authenticator,
    		Transcoder:    transcoder,
    	cluster, err := gocb.Connect("localhost", opts)
    	if err != nil {


    Once an encryption transcoder has been registered then encryption/decryption will be performed on annotated fields transparently.

    Sensitive fields in your data classes can be "annotated" using the encrypted tag. For example:

    type PersonAddress struct {
    	HouseName  string `json:"houseName" encrypted:"one"`
    	StreetName string `json:"streetName"`
    type Person struct {
    	FirstName string          `json:"firstName"`
    	LastName  string          `json:"lastName"`
    	Password  string          `json:"password" encrypted:"one"`
    	Addresses []PersonAddress `json:"address" encrypted:"two"`
    	Phone string `json:"phone" encrypted:"two"`

    Now let’s create a person document and save it to Couchbase:

    	bucket := cluster.Bucket("travel-sample")
    	collection := bucket.Scope("inventory").Collection("airport")
    	person := Person{
    		FirstName: "Barry",
    		LastName:  "Sheen",
    		Password:  "bang!",
    		Addresses: []PersonAddress{
    				HouseName:  "my house",
    				StreetName: "my street",
    				HouseName:  "my other house",
    				StreetName: "my other street",
    		Phone: "123456",
    	_, err = collection.Upsert("p1", person, nil)
    	if err != nil {

    You can get the document as a map[string]interface{} to verify the fields were encrypted:

    	res, err := collection.Get("p1", nil)
    	if err != nil {
    	var resData map[string]interface{}
    	err = res.Content(&resData)
    	if err != nil {
    	fmt.Printf("%+v\n", resData)

    Because decoding as a map does not decrypt anything, the expected output is something like:

            encrypted$houseName:map[alg:AEAD_AES_256_CBC_HMAC_SHA512 ciphertext:Uh1WE0VSkjZoc4x9xITQ0sHm1eGqJszzv7/YuvLapGOjmSHj3+DNsTYKylKyhZMeDW6zosmm+F7qV+OO6+1WFg== kid:mykey]
            streetName:my street
        encrypted$password:map[alg:AEAD_AES_256_CBC_HMAC_SHA512 ciphertext:C2l9bJKjnDpgaOUh4R0+SKAPE8WjFoxR8BvIolpB9w467yEspmZmqXcTCHkFk29O1F8sac9V9asb1lWS0ZgI3w== kid:mykey]
        encrypted$phone:map[alg:AEAD_AES_256_CBC_HMAC_SHA512 ciphertext:N2HpOioi3bm4Q9s0H4aon9NX1QO+7ZKs4DkEfy2ExeuVrMCfb14wrq3kpN7BfOOWo7YnFUt/kx/xgJEv2cOFDw== kid:myotherkey]

    Now let’s read the person document using the data binding.

    	personRes, err := collection.Get("p1", nil)
    	if err != nil {
    	var personResData Person
    	err = personRes.Content(&personResData)
    	if err != nil {
    	fmt.Printf("%+v\n", personResData)

    The output is now:

    {FirstName:Barry LastName:Sheen Password:bang! Address:{HouseName:my house StreetName:my street} Phone:123456}

    Migrating from SDK 1

    SDK 1 cannot read fields encrypted by SDK 2.

    It’s inadvisable to have both the old and new versions of your application active at the same time. The simplest way to migrate is to do an offline upgrade during a scheduled maintenance window. For an online upgrade without downtime, consider a blue-green deployment.

    SDK 2 requires additional configuration to read fields encrypted by SDK 1. The rest of this section describes how to configure Field-Level Encryption in SDK 2 for backwards compatibility with SDK 1.

    Changing the field name prefix

    In SDK 1, the default prefix for encrypted field names was __crypt_. This caused problems for Couchbase Sync Gateway, which does not like field names to begin with an underscore. In SDK 2, the default prefix is encrypted$.

    For compatibility with SDK 1, you can configure the CryptoManager to use the old __crypt_ prefix:

    	mgr := gocbfieldcrypt.NewDefaultCryptoManager(&gocbfieldcrypt.DefaultCryptoManagerOptions{
    		EncryptedFieldPrefix: "__crypt",
    In SDK 1, only top-level fields could be encrypted. SDK 2 allows encrypting fields at any depth. If you decide to rename the existing fields, make sure to do so before writing any encrypted fields below the top level, otherwise it may be difficult to rename the nested fields using a generic SQL++ statement.

    Enabling decrypters for legacy algorithms

    The encryption algorithms used by SDK 1 are deprecated, and are no longer used for encrypting new data. To enable decrypting fields written by SDK 1, register the legacy decrypters with the CryptoManager:

    	// NewLegacyAes256CryptoDecrypter takes a function parameter so that the single decrypter can support multiple
    	// keys. The function accepts a public key name and returns the corresponding private key name.
    	decrypter := gocbfieldcrypt.NewLegacyAes256CryptoDecrypter(keyring, func(s string) (string, error) {
    		if s == "mykey" {
    			return "myhmackey", nil
    		return "", errors.New("unknown key")
    	err := mgr.RegisterDecrypter(decrypter)
    	if err != nil {