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Suppose you have a file that you would normally want to keep encrypted (say, your customer information, which includes their credit card numbers). Suppose further that you occasionally receive updates of some less sensitive information about the customers.

To update the sensitive file, you could unencrypt the file, load all the data from both files into a database, merge the data, extract the result from the database (making sure to wipe the disk storage that was used), and re-encrypt. That leaves the information open to DBAs and the like during the process, and it sure seems like a lot of steps.

Using combine and your favorite encryption program, the data never has to touch the disk unencrypted (except in a swap file) so casual observers are unlikely to run across sensitive information. In addition an updated encrypted file can be created in one command line, piping the input and output of the sensitive data through your encryption program.

Here’s a sample command that might do the trick.

gpg -d < secret_file \
| combine -w -o 1-300 \
              -r update_information -k 1-10 -m 1-10 -o 11-20 -p \
| gpg -e > updated_secret_file

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This document was generated by Daniel P. Valentine on July 28, 2013 using texi2html 1.82.