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Month: January 2022

Using SQL Server Vulnerability Assessments

Manvendra Sing takes a look at SQL Server’s vulnerability assessment tool:

I will explain how to use and perform security testing using SQL Server vulnerability assessment in this article. I have explained basic understanding about multiple layers of security that we configure to protect our SQL Server instances in my last article. I have also explained about security testing at each layer we should perform to understand how secure our systems are. I would request you to read this article, Understanding security testing for SQL Server environments to learn more about them.

Security is a very critical area for any database environment. Database security measures help an organization to protect its data to maintain its privacy and integrity. Security testing should be done regularly to ensure all security policies are properly configured to protect the systems.

SQL Server also offers various features using which we can perform security testing for our databases. One of such features is SQL Server vulnerability assessment. This feature scans the database for which you are running it and displays all weaknesses along with their probable solutions.

Read on to see how you can run a vulnerability assessment, the types of results you can get, and how you might detail with some common issues.

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A Free Power BI Sandbox

Reza Rad has the right price in mind:

A question I often get from many students is: “How can I practice Power BI service features if I do not have a Power BI Account?”. Not having a Power BI account can happen because of many scenarios; your company might close this option so that the process be only channeled through a specific process within the company. Or you may not have the permission to do so. Not having an account makes it difficult to practice Power BI Service options such as workspace, datasets, dashboards, dataflows, apps, and many other features. On the other hand, even if you have the Power BI Service account, in most of the organizations, you are not the service administrator, so you cannot practice tenant-settings configurations in the service.

Fortunately, there is a way to create your own Power BI sandbox; which means an environment just for yourself, with 25 accounts. You will be the administrator of your environment. The environment will be up for at least 90 days, and you can practice whatever you want for the Power BI service there. The best of all, it is FREE. You don’t have to pay a cent for it. Credit card detail is not needed. What better you could wish for?

Read on to see how.

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Quickly Finding Row Counts for SQL Server Tables

Jeff Iannucci doesn’t have time for a table scan:

Have you ever had to find the number of rows in a user table, and then wrote a little “SELECT COUNT(*) FROM tblWhatever” and hit execute…and waited…and waited…and waited some more? And then started wondering what was going on?

If so, this post is for you.

Read on for a stored procedure which gets a nice estimate of the total number of rows. I tend to have a form of the underlying query saved as a snippet so I can use it easily. One thing to keep in mind is that these stats-based counts can be wrong. It’s rare and typically has to do with page splits duplicating values, but on a very large, very busy table you might occasionally be off by a few rows. I might posit in return that on such a table, if precision is that important, the amount of time between querying the stats and doing something with it will probably also cause you to see a difference in row counts anyhow.

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Script Parsing with ScriptDOM

Mala Mahadevan continues a series on ScriptDOM:

In the last post I wrote about what ScriptDOM is and why it is useful. From this post, I will explain how it can be put to use. What it does when you pass a script to it is to parse it, check if it is free of syntax errors, and build what is called an ‘Abstract Syntax Tree’, which is a programmatic representation of the script, with nodes and branches for each code element. The rest of the usage/functionality is built around the Abstract Syntax Tree. So in this post let us look into how this is accomplished.

Read on to see what you need to do.

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Reviewing Power BI Query Sessions with Log Analytics

Chris Webb continues a series on Power BI monitoring:

In my last post I showed how to use Log Analytics data to analyse Power BI query activity. The problem with looking at a long list of queries, though, is that it can be overwhelming and it can be hard to get a sense of when users were and weren’t actively interacting with a report. In this post I’ll show you how you can write a KQL query that gives you a summary view that solves this problem by grouping queries into sessions.

Click through to see what Chris means by the term “session” and for the KQL to do the job.

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Implementing Homomorphic Encryption with SEAL

Tsuyoshi Matsuzaki has a tutorial on using Microsoft SEAL:

Microsoft SEAL is a homomorphic encryption (HE) library, developed by Microsoft Research.

With homomorphic encryption (HE), the encrypted item can be used on computation without decryption. For sensitive data (such as, privacy data in healthcare), the customers can operate their own data without submitting private text to cloud service providers. (See below.)

Click through to see how it all works. Homomorphic encryption is a clever solution to an important class of data security problems and I’m happy to see walkthroughs like this be available.

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Building Packages from Base R Files

John Nash and Arkajyoti Bhattacharjee package things up:

This article tries to explain an approach to developing alternative versions of functions which are in the distributed base of R. Our interest was in developing improvements to the nls() function and related features in R as part of a Google Summer of Code project for which Arkajyoti Bhattacharjee was the funded student. However, nls() has many tentacles involving a number of files and functions that may or may not be called as nls() is executed.

Part of the difficulty in carrying out such development of alternative versions is that one needs to be able to execute the new variants in parallel with the existing ones. A heavy-effort approach would be to have separate full sets of R code and build each system and run them separately. That is, we want to have two or more versions of R in the same computing system.

Read on for the process, some difficulties you might encounter along the way, and specific issues you might run into on Windows. H/T R-Bloggers.

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Multivariate Time Series Anomaly Detection in Azure

Louise Han announces an update to the anomaly detection service:

We are excited to announce that we are adding more powerful capabilities in Microsoft Azure Multivariate Anomaly Detector (MVAD) today. In the latest version(v1.1-preview.1) of this API, we implemented a new , in a synchronous manner, which means you could get the anomaly detection results immediately once you call this API. This synchronous inference API is a substantial change compared with previous inference process and will be more intuitive and easier-to-use.

Also, we added a new field named ‘interpretation‘  to give more explanations on an anomaly, like which variables have huge correlation changes and cause the anomaly. These updates will support you to better leverage MVAD and get more useful information to analyze and take actions.

Click through for some more details.

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Automating Excel Report Creation with Python

Mira Celine Klein needs to create Excel reports:

In this article you will learn how to get data from Python into an Excel file and add some formatting. Excel reports are a great way to communicate data or results, especially to people who don’t use Python. Another great advantage is that you can create automated reports: You define once what the reports should look like, and then you can create it very quickly for, for example, different subgroups of data, or data that is updated regularly.

The first part of the article describes the most important functions and actions, for example, setting column widths, changing font colors, or adding hyperlinks to other sheets. In the second part, all of these features are combined in one Excel file.

This looks a lot like programming against the Excel COM objects in Powershell but maybe a little easier.

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