Sharing Power BI Data

Steve Hughes is starting a series on Power BI security:

Another way to compartmentalize or secure data is using Workspaces within Power BI. Every user, including free users, have access to My Workspace which is the default location for deploying Power BI and other BI assets. However, you also have the option to create additional workspaces as deployment targets. These Group Workspaces usually have functional and security separation associated with them.

This post is a good overview of methods available for data sharing.

Exporting SQL Server User Permissions

Rob Sewell shows how to use the Export-SqlUser cmdlet in dbatools:

There are times when DBA’s are required to export database user permissions to a file. This may be for a number of reasons. Maybe for DR purposes, for auditing, for transfer to another database or instance. Sometimes we need to create a new user with the same permissions as another user or perhaps nearly the same permissions. I was having a conversation with my good friend and MVP Cláudio Silva and we were talking about how Export-SqlUser from dbatools could help in these situations and he suggested that I blogged about it so here it is.

The dbatools module (for those that don’t know) is a PowerShell module written by amazing folks in the community designed to make administrating your SQL Server significantly easier using PowerShell. The instructions for installing it are available here It comprises of 182 separate commands at present

Cláudio wrote Export-SqlUser to solve a problem.

Read on to see what this does and how to use it.

Encrypting Kinesis Records

Temitayo Olajide shows how to use Amazon’s Key Management Service to encrypt and decrypt Kinesis messages:

In this post you build encryption and decryption into sample Kinesis producer and consumer applications using the Amazon Kinesis Producer Library (KPL), the Amazon Kinesis Consumer Library (KCL), AWS KMS, and the aws-encryption-sdk. The methods and the techniques used in this post to encrypt and decrypt Kinesis records can be easily replicated into your architecture. Some constraints:

  • AWS charges for the use of KMS API requests for encryption and decryption, for more information see AWS KMS Pricing.

  • You cannot use Amazon Kinesis Analytics to query Amazon Kinesis Streams with records encrypted by clients in this sample application.

  • If your application requires low latency processing, note that there will be a slight hit in latency.

Check it out, especially if you’re thinking about streaming sensitive data.

Troubleshooting Login Failures

Jana Sattainathan explains why the default login failure message is so unhelpful:

At first glance, it appears to be utterly useless. The only useful message seems to be “Login failed for user ‘myuser‘.” but what we really need to know is “why?”.

That information is somewhat buried in this section of the message:

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Server Name: mysqlserverinstance
Error Number: 18456
Severity: 14
State: 1

Based on the documentation for this error, the severity and state actually mean something. I have copied and pasted the same from the link.

Read on to find out how to get the actual error.

Azure Networking

Joshua Feierman has an article on how Azure Networking works, particularly from the viewpoint of a DBA:

The connecting thread between an Azure virtual machine and a virtual network is a Virtual Network Interface Card, or VNic for short. These are resources that are separate and distinct from the virtual machine and network itself, which can be assigned to a given virtual machine.

If you go to the “All Resources” screen and sort by the “Type” column, you will find a number of network interface resources.

There’s some good information in here.

Cloned Database Security

Parikshit Savjani explains what happens when you run DBCC CLONEDATABASE on databases with various security measures activated:

Transparent Data Encryption (TDE)

If you use TDE to encrypt data at rest on the source database, DBCC CLONEDATABASE supports cloning of the source database but the cloned database is not encrypted by TDE. Thus, the backup of the cloned database will be unencrypted. If it is desired to encrypt and protect cloned database backup, you can enable TDE on cloned database before it is backed up as shown below

It’s a good read which covers several technologies.

xp_cmdshell Not A Security Risk

Kevin Hill makes a great point:

A stored procedure that, out of the box, is disabled and has no explicit rights granted (or denied) is locked down to everyone but those in the sysadmin server role.

If someone exploits your SQL Server via xp_cmdshell, its because you LET them, either by granting permissions or by putting someone in sysadmin that clearly should not have been there.

For this in more detail, check out Sean McCown’s post from 2015.

TDE And Encrypted Backups

Arun Sirpal shows that Transparent Data Encryption will also lead to encrypted backups:

Ok great let’s check this backup file using a cool tool (XVI32). I really want the contact number of a guy called SQLDOUBLEG because I need his help tuning my SQL Servers so I go looking for a text string, hopefully the phone number will be close by.

As Arun points out, you don’t need TDE to get encrypted backups, but it does the job.

Replication And TDE

Drew Furgiuele looks at how replication interacts with Transparent Data Encryption:

But what happens if we set up a transactional replication publication on this database and do a snapshot? Remember that when you create a publication, your distributor and subscriber(s) need to know which network share (or FTP server) to drop all the data and schema definitions to so they can be read in by the distribution agent and recreated. In my example, I’m dropping them to a network share. Once the snapshot completes, let’s go check out our subscriber database…

Uh oh. The same query returned zero results at the subscriber. Which means no encryption! Replication won’t replicate encryption, at all. So if you have a requirement to encrypt your data at the source, you’ll need to do it on your subscribers too.

Drew points out a couple important gotchas which might lead to you exposing information you didn’t intend to make available.

Always sa

James Anderson rails on inappropriate sa account usage:

I can already hear managers saying:

If you don’t trust your employees, why employ them in the first place?

Well there is the whole accidental damage thing. I guess you could cover that by having a good backup\restore process (if your RTO and RPO permitted the downtime) but don’t expect to pass any security audits coming your way. Hint: your clients wont like this.

Plus, supposing everybody knows the sa account, there’s no way to know who accidentally(?) dropped the customer database.

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