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xp_cmdshell Is Not the Problem

David Fowler gives it to us straight:

xp_cmdshell is an extended SQL stored proc that allows users to run Windows command prompt commands from within SQL. Sound scary? It might, but is xp_cmdshell really a security risk?

Well a lot of people think so, many DBAs and IT departments will insist that it’s always disabled and many auditors and pen testers will raise it a significant vulnerability if they see it enabled on any of your SQL Servers.

But is it really that much of a security risk?

Click through for David’s thoughts, which match my own quite well here. Either xp_cmdshell is not the problem because you explicitly needed to make bad decisions in order for it to hurt you, or xp_cmdshell is not the problem because a bad person got access to a sysadmin account and hurt you. In neither case was xp_cmdshell the proximate cause.