Password-Protecting Sensitive InfoPath Form Fields
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by S.Y.M. Wong-A-Ton
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Security Concepts

The solution outlined in this article is based on three security concepts: authentication, privacy, and integrity.

Authentication

Authentication is the process of determining the identity of a person or entity.  There are three general factors that can be used for authentication:

1.      Something a person knows

2.      Something a person has

3.      Something a person is

Something a person knows can be a password, PIN, or mother’s maiden name.  Something a person has can be a key, swipe card, or badge.  Biometrics such as fingerprint and iris scans can be used to prove something a person is.  Strong authentication contains two out of these three methods.

Privacy

Privacy is the act of keeping data undisclosed to third parties unless authorized.  Privacy protects sensitive information such as personal information.

Integrity

Integrity provides the assurance that data has not been altered in an unauthorized way.  One example is when a user sends a request to her online bank account to pay her $24.56 water utility bill.  This user needs to be sure that the integrity of that transaction was not altered during transmission, so the user does not end up paying the utility company $240.56 instead.

Security in the Solution

The solution outlined in this article makes use of a password to authenticate the person opening and saving an InfoPath form.  Since a password by itself does not provide strong authentication, it is combined with the person's user name to add a second layer of security.  If someone else gains knowledge of the password, that person would also have to impersonate the original user before he can gain access to the protected data stored within the form.

The password is not explicitly saved within the form, or anywhere else for that matter.  The user is forced to remember and enter it to both lock and unlock, i.e. encrypt and decrypt, sensitive form fields.  Encryption is used to ensure both privacy and integrity.


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