The Basics of Securing Your SQL Server

By Ryan Freeman

October 6, 2022

cybersecurity, SQL, sql server

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

Securing your SQL Severs (on-premises or in the cloud) is complex and experts should manage your cybersecurity.

However, in this article, we hope to briefly introduce 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 physical hardware and networking systems connecting clients.

As a starting point, it’s essential to limit access to physical servers and hardware components; this could be achieved with locked rooms and restricted access. 

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

Firewalls also provide a separator or restrictor of network traffic, so they 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.  

Certificates (they work like keys) can help by enabling secure communications through solid authentication. 

Application Security 

Application security includes SQL Server security best practices like writing secure client applications and WDAC (Windows Defender Application Control), which helps prevent 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 using Policy-Based Management. 

The Database Engine exposes security information in several views and functions 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 to secure SQL Server; for further reading, we recommend the official Microsoft SQL Server documentation, which can easily be found online. 

We would love to hear how you secure your data platforms and any challenges you try 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 comprises a team of data professionals with skills and experience stretching across roles and technologies. If we can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact the team today.

Ryan Freeman

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