MS ACCESS Database Password - How secure?

I have a program written in Delphi 7, which uses a MS Access 2000 database as the backend.

I have password protected my MS ACCESS 2000 Database file (*.mdb) with a 16 character password consisting of a misture of Numeral, control, UpperCase, and LowerCase characters.

However, it looks like there are a number of programs on the market that claim that the password can be retrieved. What is the purpose of this database password if that is the case? Is there anyway to make it so it is not retrievable? Tighten the encryption so to speak?



Is there anyway to make it so it is not retrievable? Tighten the encryption so to speak?

It depends; you can either change your database and look for a more secure one (e.g. MS SQL Server Compact Edition), or if you want to stay on MS Access and security of the data is important to you, go for encrypting important fields using a good encryption algorithm (e.g. AES).

If you are going to encrypt your fields, you can do it transparently in Delphi; each DB field in Delphi is derived from TField class, and has two events called OnGetText and OnSetText. OnGetText is fired every time you try to read the field's data, and OnSetText is fired every time you try to write to the field. You can encrypt a field data whenever OnSetText is fired, that way, the encrypted data will be saved in the database. On the other hand, you can decrypt a field data whenever OnGetText is fired, that way, user will always see and work with the decrypted data. The whole process would be transparent to the users.

Of course you should take note that encrypting/ decrypting fields every time they are being read or write has performance drawback depending on number of fields to be encrypted, their size, frequency of reading or writing them, and the encryption algorithm which is used. It's better you just encrypt the important fields.

Another option could be to encrypt the whole MS Access database file, and decrypt it whenever your application is connecting to it, but that way, the file is secure as long as your application is not running; once your application is running and the file is decrypted; the file is exposed to others.

MS Access 2010 uses better encryption and has some other features. SQL Server Compact edition gives you a lot more security but is still appropriate for a desktop app.

Otherwise, go with a server database: mysql, sql server, oracle. Most have free versions.

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