October 6

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Securing SQL Server Basics

By Ryan Freeman

October 6, 2022


Data security should be one of the top priorities in business. Data that is lost or stolen can be catastrophic so it’s always a good idea to invest in the right resources to ensure that your data platforms are secure. 

Securing your SQL Severs (on premises or in the cloud) is a complex area and should be managed by experts. However, in this article we hope to give you a brief introduction of the basics which can be viewed as a series of steps, involving four areas: the platform, authentication, objects (including data), and applications that access the system. 

Platform and Network Security 

The SQL Server data platform runs on both physical hardware and networking systems that connect clients. As a starting point it’s important to limit access to physical severs and hardware components, this could be achieved with locked rooms and restricted access. 

When it comes to operating system security it’s important to apply all updates and upgrades as soon as possible as they will include important security enhancements.  

Firewalls also provide a separator or restrictor of network traffic so should be configured to enforce your organisation’s data security policy. 

SQL Server uses operating system files for operation and data storage, these should require restricted access. 

Principals and Database Object Security 

The title of Principals is given to individuals, groups, and processes that are granted access to SQL Server. Securables are the server, database, and objects the database contains. To reduce the SQL Server surface area, each has a set of permissions that can be configured. 

Encryption can help where wrongful access is achieved but as the data is unreadable, such as credit card numbers for example.  

Certificates (they work like keys) can help by enabling secure communications by way of strong authentication. 

Application Security 

Application security includes SQL Server security best practices like writing secure client applications and WDAC (Windows Defender Application Control) which helps by preventing unauthorised code execution. 

SQL Server Security Tools, Utilities, Views, and Functions 

There are many SQL Server security tools and utilities that you can use to configure and administer security. These include SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio), sqlcmd Utility, SQL Server Configuration Manager, rskeymgmt Utility (SSRS) and you can also administer servers by using Policy-Based Management. 

The Database Engine exposes security information in several views and functions that are optimised for performance and utility. These include Security Catalog Views, Security Functions and Security-Related Dynamic Management Views and Functions. 

Hopefully that is a helpful first step to understanding how secure SQL Server, for further reading we would recommend the Microsoft SQL Server official documentation which can easily be found online. 

We would love to hear how you are securing your data platforms and any of the challenges you are trying to overcome. We are also available to assist if you are having difficulties or feel that you may be open to security issues. Digital Samurai is made up of a team of data professionals with skills and experience stretching across the spectrum of roles and technologies. If we can be of any assistance, please feel free to get in touch with the team today. 

Ryan Freeman

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