Securing your SQL Server Instances

Hi friends, in this article, we will be discussing about the necessity and process of securing your SQL Server instances.

SQL Server and Azure SQL Database are two of the most complete and powerful data platforms in the world. With SQL Server and Azure SQL Database you can store and organize structured, semi-structured and unstructured data and transform it into useful knowledge via complex transformations and sophisticated processing.

The above, make it a necessity for every Organization to secure and harden their SQL Server instances up to the maximum possible level, without of course affecting the operation of the supported systems.


Securing SQL Server – An Ongoing Process

For this purpose, there are published security standards and guidelines by well-respected security organizations which can be used for securing your SQL Server instances. This is however a complex process, based on which you need to thoroughly assess every single SQL Server instance you have against a list of security factors. Moreover, it is a process that needs to be constantly repeated as databases and SQL Server instances are not static. They change. New databases are added, new features might be enabled and so on.

Securing your SQL Server Instances - Article on {}

Securing SQL Server is not just a matter of securing its surface area. A proper hardening process involves securing the following as well:

  • Physical environment (i.e. data room)
  • Operating system
  • Network
  • Client applications

All the above require well-balanced teamwork and coordination in order to ensure that all, or at least the majority of possible vulnerabilities has been mitigated.


Securing SQL Server with DBA Security Advisor

Now, when it comes to securing your SQL Server instances, you can check a powerful software tool which can help you through the process of eliminating vulnerabilities that might have to do with the setup of your SQL Server instances and databases. This tool is DBA Security Advisor.

DBA Security Advisor Enterprise Edition - Sample Security Checks

DBA Security Advisor is a powerful security tool for SQL Server which runs security assessments against one or  multiple SQL Server instances.  Based on a rich set of security factors, it generates assessment reports which contain not only the detected security risks, but also recommendations as well as remediation scripts where applicable.

DBA Security Advisor Enterprise Edition - Sample Security Assessment Report

The security checks shipped with the Enterprise Edition of DBA Security Advisor target the below areas of SQL Server:

  • Logins – Server Role Associations
  • Surface Area
  • Authentication and Authorization
  • Auditing
  • Password Policies
  • Miscellaneous
  • Advanced

Some examples of security checks are:

  • Logins – Server Role Association
  • Ad Hoc Distributed Queries
  • CLR Enabled
  • Cross DB Ownership Chaining
  • Database Mail XPs
  • Ole Automation Procedures
  • Guest User
  • Orphaned Users
  • Public Database Role
  • Password Policy
  • List of Failed Logins
  • CLR Assembly Permission Set
  • Credentials Check (sa:sa)
  • Credentials Check (user:user)
  • …and much more!


The Workflow Model of DBA Security Advisor

The workflow model of DBA Security Advisor is very simple, in order to make it easier for the DBA, to perform the assessment of the SQL Server instances and take the necessary actions for hardening the instances.

As you can see in the below infographic, the first step for securing your SQL Server instances using DBA Security Advisor, is to connect to one or more instances that you want to analyze for security risks.

The next step, is to select the security checks you want to perform against the connected instances.

Right after that, you run the assessment and you evaluate the security assessment results, by going through the generated recommendations and remediation scripts and processes.

Finally, based on all the above, you take the required actions towards securing the SQL Server instances.

Then, again, if you want to re-evaluate your SQL Server instances for security risks, you just follow again the same process.

Securing your SQL Server Instances with DBA Security Advisor

Note that with DBA Security Advisor you can assess multiple SQL Server instances, access older assessment reports via the history mechanism and perform comparisons, export the reports and much more.

For more information, please visit DBA Security Advisor’s product page on SQLNetHub.


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