Miminal Rights For Bulk Inserts

Timothy Smith takes us through least privilege while allowing bulk insert operations:

While this file path serves as a useful location for us to load flat files, we should consider that the user account that is executing the underlying insert statement must be able to read (and possibly write to) that file location. The writing part of the equation comes in when it involves logging, even if the permissions of the written logging data are tied down strictly in the output, in that the user doesn’t control what gets written, but that errors are written. In the least, we want to ensure that a separate folder with strict permissions exists for any flat file import to restrict the account access – notice that we’re not reading off the root drive, as we’ve seen that we can insert an entire file of data – think about using SQL bulk insert to view files through SQL Server by inserting the file’s data and reviewing it.

It’s more than just “check the box for the server-level role.”

Auditing SQL Agent Jobs

Jason Brimhall has some clever techniques for auditing SQL Agent Jobs with Extended Events:

Once upon a time, I was in the position of trying to figure out why a job failed. After a bunch of digging and troubleshooting, it was discovered that the job had changed but nobody knew when or why. Because of that, I was asked to provide a low cost audit solution to try and at least provide answers to the when and who of the change.

Tracking who made a change to an agent job should be a task added to each database professionals checklist / toolbox. Being caught off guard from a change to a system under your purview isn’t necessarily a fun conversation – nor is it pleasant to be the one to find that somebody changed your jobs without notice – two weeks after the fact! Usually, that means that there is little to no information about the change and you find yourself getting frustrated.

Click through to see how Jason does it.

Non-Administrative Powershell Remoting And January 2019 LCU

Emin Atac tests out a security change made in the January 2019 Latest Cumulative Update for Windows:

My first concern was: if it’s a security vulnerability, what’s its CVE? The blog post answer is: CVE-2019-0543 discovered by James Forshaw of Google Project Zero

My second concern was twofold. Is the chapter about A Least Privilege Model Implementation Using Windows PowerShell published in the PowerShell Conference Book impacted by this change? Should I stop deploying Windows 10 at work because the LCU of January 2019 breaks my loopback scenario?

The answer is no and explained by the blog post Windows Security change affecting PowerShell
you would not be affected by this change, unless you explicitly set up loopback endpoints on your machine to allow non-Administrator account access

Read on for some testing and digging into what works when and why.

xp_cmdshell And Non-Sysadmin Accounts

Lucas Kartawidjaja shows us how you can grant a non-sysadmin user the right to run xp_cmdshell:

Once we run the above T-SQL query, any account that is part of the sysadmin role in the SQL Server instance has the ability to run the xp_cmdshell extended stored procedure. On the background, when the user with sysadmin privileges runs the xp_cmdshell, it will execute the Windows command shell using the SQL Server Service Account (So if you are executing xp_cmdshell to access certain resource on the network, for example, and you are having permission issue, you might want to make sure that the SQL Server Service Account has permission to that resource).
Now, what if you have a non-sysadmin account that needs to run xp_cmdshell? In order to do that, we would need to do some additional configuration.

Granting non-sysadmins rights to run xp_cmdshell definitely rates as well above-average in terms of risk. I don’t have any problem with xp_cmdshell being turned on—especially considering that by default, only sysadmin accounts get it and sysadmin accounts can turn it on if it’s disabled, meaning it’s effectively always on for sysadmin. But when you start granting non-sysadmin accounts the ability to shell out, you have to be even more careful of protecting that SQL Server instance.

Switching Azure Portal Accounts

John Morehouse is happy with a change to the Azure Portal:

This means that I could have multiple email accounts that I have to use in order to sign into the portal.  Using a password manager such as 1Password, not usually a big deal and more of an annoyance rather than a headache.
Within the past month or so, Microsoft has updated the portal to allow me to easily switch accounts.  Previously you had to log out of the portal and then log back in.

This is quite convenient. Prior to this change, switching to a different account could goof with other sites I had open (like if I was sending an Outlook e-mail through one account, switching the Azure Portal signed-in account would log me out from Outlook). It’s still not a perfect experience but it’s a lot better.

Always Encrypted With Secure Enclaves

Jakub Szymaszek announces secure enclaves support with Always Encrypted in SQL Server 2019:

The only operation SQL Server 2016 and 2017 support on encrypted database columns is equality comparison, providing you use deterministic encryption. For anything else, your apps need to download the data to perform the computations outside of the database. Similarly, if you need to encrypt your data for the first time or re-encrypt it later (e.g. to rotate your keys), you need to use special tools that move the data and perform crypto operations on a different machine than your SQL Server computer. These restrictions are not an issue if equality comparison is all your applications need and if the tables containing your sensitive data are small. However, many types of sensitive information, e.g. a person’s name or phone number, often require richer operations, including pattern matching and sorting, and it’s not uncommon for sensitive data to be too large to move outside of the database for processing.
To address the above challenges, Always Encrypted in SQL Server 2019 is enhanced with secure enclaves. A secure enclave is a protected region of memory that appears as a black box to the containing process and to other processes running on the machine, including the operating system. There is no way to view the data or code inside the enclave from the outside, which makes enclaves ideal for processing sensitive data. There are several enclave technologies that differ in how enclave isolation is accomplished. SQL Server 2019 preview uses a Windows Server technology called Virtualization Based Security (VBS), which relies on Hypervisor to protect and isolate enclaves.

They’re going further with Always Encrypted than I thought would be possible.  The first release of Always Encrypted had me asking “Why would I use this over running an encryption or decryption function in my app code?”  I think secure enclaves starts to answer that question.

Preventing Credential Compromise When Using AWS

Will Bengtston walks us through techniques Netflix uses to protect credentials in AWS:

Scope

In this post, we’ll discuss how to prevent or mitigate compromise of credentials due to certain classes of vulnerabilities such as Server Side Request Forgery (SSRF) and XML External Entity (XXE) injection. If an attacker has remote code execution (RCE) or local presence on the AWS server, these methods discussed will not prevent compromise. For more information on how the AWS services mentioned work, see the Background section at the end of this post.

Protecting Your Credentials

There are many ways that you can protect your AWS temporary credentials. The two methods covered here are:

  • Enforcing where API calls are allowed to originate from.

  • Protecting the EC2 Metadata service so that credentials cannot be retrieved via a vulnerability in an application such as Server Side Request Forgery (SSRF).

Read the whole thing if you’re an AWS user.

Cross-Availability Group Login Management

David Fowler walks us through a problem about orphaned users and Availability Groups:

Now, I’m pretty sure that most of us will have been in the position where, after a fail-over we get inundated with calls, emails, Skype messages and carrier pigeon drops letting us know that so and so can no longer access the database.

When you look into it, you either find that the login never existed in the first place, so you create it or that it was there but the database user has become orphaned from it (happens when the login SID doesn’t match the SID of the database user, Adrian wrote about orphaned users in Dude where’s my access?).

You remap the orphaned user and everything is good again…  that is until the next time you failover and once again you’ll be hit with the same orphaned user problem.

Click through for the explanation and a permanent fix for this issue.

Configuring Kafka Streams For Least Privilege

Gwen Shapira explains how we can assign minimal rights to Kafka Streams and KSQL users:

The principle of least privilege dictates that each user and application will have the minimal privileges required to do their job. When applied to Apache Kafka® and its Streams API, it usually means that each team and application will have read and write access only to a selected few relevant topics.

Organizations need to balance developer velocity and security, which means that each organization will likely have their own requirements and best practices for access control.

There are two simple patterns you can use to easily configure the right privileges for any Kafka Streams application—one provides tighter security, and the other is for more agile organizations. First, we’ll start with a bit of background on why configuring proper privileges for Kafka Streams applications was challenging in the past.

Read the whole thing; “granting everybody all rights” generally isn’t a good idea, no matter what your data platform of choice may be.

Working With Firewall Rules From Azure SQL Database

Arun Sirpal shows us how we can use T-SQL to set and modify firewall rules within Azure SQL Database:

For this post I want to actually show you the TSQL code to do this, hopefully it will become a good reference point for the future. Before we step into the code lets understand the differences between database level and server level rules.

For server level rules they enable access your entire Azure SQL server, that is, all the databases within the same logical server. These rules are stored in the master database. Database level rules enable access to certain databases (yes you could also run this within master) within the same logical server, think of this as you being more granular with the access where they are created within the user database in question.

Personally, I try and always use database level rules, this is especially true when I work with failover groups.

Click through for instructions on how to work with both server and database level rules.

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