Category Archives: SQL

Microsoft Azure 70-473 Design and Implement Cloud Data Platform Solutions – Design and Implement Security

Earlier I tried to compile list of Microsoft documentation and other resources relevant for 70-473 exam preparation but I quickly realized that exam scope makes this list too huge and unwieldy. I now decided that I would rather split this into smaller resources lists following specific exam sections. Below you can see the list of reading resources relevant for Design and Implement Security section of 70-473 exam. You will mainly find links to Microsoft documentation in this list.

Here you can see Design and Implement Security exam section topics as described on official exam page:

  • Design and implement SQL Server Database security
    • Configure firewalls; manage logins, users, and roles; assign permissions; configure auditing; configure Transparent Database Encryption (TDE); configure row-level security; configure data encryption; configure data masking; configure Always Encrypted
  • Design and implement Azure SQL Database security
    • Configure firewalls; manage logins, users, and roles; assign permissions; configure auditing; configure row-level security; configure data encryption; configure data masking; configure Always Encrypted, configure Automatic Threat Detection

I tried to structure list of links below based on sub-objectives.

Configure Firewalls

Azure SQL Database and SQL Data Warehouse firewall rules

sp_set_database_firewall_rule (Azure SQL Database)

Azure SQL Database: Firewall security

Configure a Windows Firewall for Database Engine Access

Configure a Server to Listen on a Specific TCP Port
Configure the Windows Firewall to Allow SQL Server Access

TCP/IP Properties (IP Addresses Tab)

SQL Server: Frequently Used Ports

Security Considerations for SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines

Manage logins, users and roles

Server and Database Roles in SQL Server

Managing Users, Roles, and Logins

Getting Started with Database Engine

Database-Level Roles

Server-Level Roles

CREATE CREDENTIAL (Transact-SQL)

SQL Server Separation of Duties (Word document download)

Assign Permissions

Getting Started with Database Engine Permissions

New Permissions in SQL Server 2014: IMPERSONATE ANY LOGIN, SELECT ALL USER SECURABLES, CONNECT ANY DATABASE and the old CONTROL SERVER

GRANT Server Permissions (Transact-SQL)

SQL Server Best Practices – Implementation of Database Object Schemas
+ see also: What are some best practices for using schemas in SQL Server?

Azure SQL Database and SQL Data Warehouse access control

Principals (Database Engine)

Configure Auditing

Get started with SQL database auditing

Set-AzureRmSqlServerAuditingPolicy

Use-AzureRmSqlServerAuditingPolicy

Configure Transparent Database Encryption (TDE)

Transparent Data Encryption (TDE)

Transparent data encryption for SQL Database and Data Warehouse 

Enable TDE on SQL Server Using EKM

ALTER DATABASE (Azure SQL Database)

Configure Row-Level Security (RLS)

SQL Server 2016 : Implement Row Level Security using Predicate Function and Security Policy

Row-Level Security

SQL Server Security Blog – Row-Level Security block predicates are generally available on Azure SQL DatabaseCREATE SECURITY POLICY (Transact-SQL)

Configure Data Encryption

SQL Server 2016 New Features: Security and Encryption

Encrypt a Column of Data (column/cell level encryption)

Extensible Key Management Using Azure Key Vault (SQL Server)

CREATE ASYMMETRIC KEY (Transact-SQL)

SQL Server Certificates and Asymmetric Keys
OPEN SYMMETRIC KEY (Transact-SQL)

Get started with Azure Key Vault
About keys, secrets, and certificates

Configure Data Masking

SQL Database dynamic data masking

ALTER TABLE (Transact-SQL)

Use Dynamic Data Masking to obfuscate your sensitive data

Configure Always Encrypted

Always Encrypted (Database Engine)

Always Encrypted (client development)

Develop using Always Encrypted with .NET Framework Data Provider

Always Encrypted: Protect sensitive data in SQL Database and store your encryption keys in Azure Key Vault

Microsoft Azure SQL Database provides unparalleled data security in the cloud with Always Encrypted

Configure Always Encrypted using SQL Server Management Studio

SqlConnection.ConnectionString Property
Use .NET (C#) with Visual Studio to connect and query an Azure SQL database

Configure Automatic Threat Detection

Use PowerShell to configure SQL Database auditing and threat detection

Azure SQL Database Threat Detection

Azure Security Center Documentation

Other/General

Controlling and granting database access to SQL Database and SQL Data Warehouse – Secure your Azure SQL Database

Azure Cosmos DB: SQL API getting started tutorial

Get started with Azure Table storage and the Azure Cosmos DB Table API using .NET

ADO.NET Overview

Securing your SQL Database

Azure Storage replication

Collation and Unicode Support

AzureRM.Sql

Management Data Warehouse

SQL Server Profiler

Monitoring SQL Server Performance

Monitor Resource Usage (System Monitor)

Next time I will try to compile similar list for Design and implement high availability, disaster recovery, and scalability section of the exam.

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SQL Server’s Binary Collations

I was reading up on database engine Always Encrypted feature while preparing for 70-473 exam, and bump into these binary collations which I somehow never heard of before.

While configure Always Encrypted one of the choices you have to made is whether to use Deterministic or Randomized encryption (and you have to know the differences very well for the exam). One of the caveats when using Deterministic encryption is that it have to use a column collation with a binary2 sort order for character columns. More specifically documentation states that: Deterministic encryption requires a column to have one of the binary2 collations. If you will be using SSMS Encrypt Columns wizard it will be converting your column collation into binary2 case sensitive collation.

These statement required me to investigate the topic of binary collation a little bit.

First of all you may have different collation settings on a SQL Server instance level (i.e. on its system databases) on your databases and on specific columns and expression level.

To list all the collations available on your instance of SQL Server you can issue the following SQL statement:

On Azure SQL Database you will get back 3955 rows or possible collations. Understanding collation requires you to understand set of related terms, such as Collation, Locale, Code page, Sort order.  You should also know  that there are three major sets of collations available to you:

  • Windows collations
  • Binary collations
  • SQL Server collations

These collation groups sort data differently. In the past my standard answer/explanation about Windows VS SQL collation was that Windows one is more frequently updated, more compatible and hence more preferable over SQL one. Technically speaking it is more about how sorting works, but as per MSFT documentation: “SQL Server supports supports a limited number (<80) of collations called SQL Server collations which were developed before SQL Server supported Windows collations. SQL Server collations are still supported for backward compatibility, but should not be used for new development work.” So what I was saying/writing seems to be correct.

I won’t be covering all the details and differences related to these sets of collations as I only want to focus here on Binary collations which are requirement for Always Encrypted Deterministic encryption.

Binary collations sort data based on the sequence of coded values that are defined by the locale and data type. They are case sensitive. A binary collation in SQL Server defines the locale and the ANSI code page that is used. This enforces a binary sort order. Because they are relatively simple, binary collations help improve application performance. For non-Unicode data types, data comparisons are based on the code points that are defined in the ANSI code page. For Unicode data types, data comparisons are based on the Unicode code points. For binary collations on Unicode data types, the locale is not considered in data sorts. For example, Latin_1_General_BIN and Japanese_BIN yield identical sorting results when they are used on Unicode data.

There are two types of binary collations in SQL Server; the older BIN collations and the newer BIN2 collations. In a BIN2 collation all characters are sorted according to their code points. In a BIN collation only the first character is sorted according to the code point, and remaining characters are sorted according to their byte values. (Because the Intel platform is a little endian architecture, Unicode code characters are always stored byte-swapped.)

So for  Always Encrypted Deterministic encryption any of the collations returned by the query below will do:

This leaves you with 133 collations to choose from 🙂 Generally speaking BIN and BIN2 collations use different sorting algorithms and BIN2 is more preferable in general, not only for Always Encrypted Deterministic encryption columns. Another interesting question is why we have BIN/BIN2 collations for different languages? Like Arabic_BIN2, French_BIN2 etc. The reason is that each of those uses different code page for encoding the characters sorting in the varchar type so linguistic collation type is very important and comes into play only for varchar data as this will be sorted based on the language selected (this is not applicable to nvarchar where it has no difference).

All collations which are not binary collation are linguistic collations. For example, Latin1_General_CI_AS is a linguistic collation and it uses a sorting algorithm compatible with several of English language and many Western European languages. Please don’t be confused by the name of Latin1_General, as it actually can sort all Unicode characters defined in Unicode 3.2 characters set and it can also sort many other languages correctly as well (if the language has no sorting conflict with the latin1_general sorting rule).

Binary collations have better performance than linguistic collations, and that is the main advantage of using then. A binary collation is always case sensitive and accent sensitive. BIN2 collation is generally more preferable than BIN collation.

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How to enable TDE (SQL 2017/Azure SQL Database)

TDE is a SQL Server feature which encrypts your data at rest, i.e. your database files. When TDE is enabled encryption of the database file is performed at the page level. The pages in an encrypted database are encrypted before they are written to disk and decrypted when read into memory. TDE does not increase the size of the encrypted database. Here is TDE architecture schema from MSFT documentation:

Transparent Data Encryption Architecture

Transparent Data Encryption Architecture

This blog post explains how to enable Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) for SQL Database (on-premise/Azure).

Scenario 1. On-premise SQL Server 2017 (this will also work for SQL Server in a Azure VM). You can use the following SQL script to enable TDE:

Be sure to replace ‘K2’ with your target database name and adjust password value. Script uses IF clauses to avid creating things which already exist (which are missing in the sample script you can find in MSFT documentation). Once TDE is enabled you can confirm this in the database properties using SSMS GUI:

Scenario 2. Azure SQL Database. Script mentioned above won’t work here. Easiest/default approach to enable TDE for Azure SQL Database is to do so from Azure Portal:

This approach called service-managed transparent data encryption and by default database encryption key is protected by a built-in server certificate. All newly created SQL databases are encrypted by default by using service-managed transparent data encryption.

Other approach called Bring Your Own Key and requires use of Azure Key Vault.

TDE can also be managed with PowerShell, Transact-SQL and REST API. PowerShell contains number of cmdlets for that:

 

And using T-SQL you can use ALTER DATABASE (Azure SQL Database) SET ENCRYPTION ON/OFF command (encrypts or decrypts a database) and two dynamic management views:

  • databasesys.dm_database_encryption_keys which returns information about the encryption state of a database and its associated database encryption keys
  • sys.dm_pdw_nodes_database_encryption_keys which returns information about the encryption state of each data warehouse node and its associated database encryption keys

Once TDE has been enabled there is also options to check whether it is enabled or not using T-SQL:

For further information refer to official MSFT documentation:

Transparent Data Encryption (TDE)

The SQL Server Security Blog on TDE with FAQ

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How to: Connect to Azure SQL from Visual Studio

This specific day is already described by some people as GDPRmageddon based on amount of emails people receive from all companies they ever dealt with at one or another point about their policies updates and so on. I’m not going to talk about this today, instead I decided to write this tiny post on how to connect to Azure SQL from Visual Studio.

Actually short answer to this is just fire off Visual Studio and select View > SQL Server Object Explorer, the rest is just “follow the wizard” thing, and it is all documented by MSFT of course. But I’m quite well aware about widespread allergy to official documentation (no matter how good it is) and also wanted to try this my self for the very first time recently, and this is how this post came about.

QUESTION: How to connect to Azure SQL from Visual Studio?

ANSWER:

1) First things first. Assuming you don’t have Visual Studio installed on your machine, you should download and install it. There is a free version named Visual Studio Community which can be downloaded here: https://www.visualstudio.com/vs/community

2) Once tiny web installer downloaded run it and click continue to kick off installation process:

Tiny installer will start fetching data from the internet before installing components on your  machine:

3) Once data downloaded you can opt in for default installation which will require 597 MB of disk space:

4) Once installation is complete Visual Studio will suggest you Sign up or Sign In to use additional services, but you can avoid that by clicking “Not now, maybe later” link:

5) Of course you must select Dark theme otherwise nothing will work and click on Start Visual Studio button 🙂

Of course other themes work too but you would look suspiciously in the developers crowd 🙂

6) Once Visual Studio opened you supposed to go to View > SQL Server Object Explorer, and… And if you followed previous steps exactly/selected default Visual Studio installation configuration SQL Server Object Explorer won’t be available in View menu:

7) To address this, re-run Visual Studio installer, open Individual components tab and mark SQL Server Data Tools component – it will automatically select bunch of dependencies upping disk space requirements from 597 MB to 2,52 GB:

8) Once installation complete, re-run Visual Studio and click SQL Server Object Explorer from View menu:

9) Once it opened, right click on SQL Server node in SQL Server Object Explorer tree and select “Add SQL Server…” option:

10) It will start Connect wizard where you can specify your Azure SQL server name and credentials (yes even for Azure SQL database you are connecting through “SQL server” which is logical entity you must have to connect to Azure SQL database(s) and should not be confused with SQL Server in Azure VM 🙂 ):

 

11) Both SSMS and Visual Studio are smart enough to detect if your server name and credentials are good but you don’t have firewall rule created to allow connection, and if you provide your Azure credentials these applications will be able to create required firewall rule for you:

To provide credentials you supposed to click on “Add an account…” under Azure account as shown above. It will open standard Microsoft credentials prompt dialog:

After you provided valid credentials you should be able to click OK in the previous window to create firewall rule:

If you navigate to Azure portal you will be able to see your public IP added to Azure SQL server firewall rules there.

12) And with valid credentials and firewall rule in place you will be able to connect and browse through your databases and objects and execute SQL queries more or less in the same way as in SSMS:

I hope now you are clear on how to connect to Azure SQL from Visual Studio 🙂 But in case you still have any questions just leave them in comments.

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Exam Prep Resources for Microsoft Azure 70-473 Design and Implement Cloud Data Platform Solutions

I’m currently preparing for 70-473  Design and Implement Cloud Data Platform Solutions exam, so I’ve decided to compile a list of resources which may be useful to prepare for this exam. I’m going to append it with additional materials as I keep working on my preparation and I hope it may be useful to other test takers.

As with any MSFT exam your starting point has to be MSFT exam description page which contains run down of all exam topics as well as links to additional resources, so here it is – Exam 70-473 Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions. You should keep in mind that though this exam has been released in December 2015, it is being updated quarterly, so once in a while you need to check exam page to see if any new topics were added there. At the moment last update to this exam was made in June 2017 and changes are explained in exam 70-473 change document.

Paid resources:

70-473 Cloud Data Platform Solutions course by SoftwareArchitect.ca – this is an affordable (25$) online course which I bought and used during my preparation – good overview of all concepts at a fair price, and when I searched it was only 70-473 specific course from online training vendors which I was able to find. Author goes through all the “skills measured” topics as they stated in exam description. What I dislike about this course is amount of typos and some little issues like mismatch between numbering and naming  of videos in course navigation pane and inside of the videos themselves. One exactly the same video even inserted/listed twice there. So I would describe it as lack of QA/editing problem. My other complain would be lack of hands-on demos, there are some of them in the course but I wanted more. 🙂 Only after completion of the course I found that it is also available on Udemy and there it was priced 9,99$ with discount when I checked – so check both locations and compare prices if you want to try it.

Free resources and video recordings:

Certification Exam Overview: 70-473: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions MVA course

Cert Exam Prep: Exam 70-473: Cloud Data Platform Solutions – exam overview video by MCT James Herring

Second link is YouTube video, looks like both of these links cover more or less the same material and delivered by the same person, yet YouTube session has newer slides, it seems, and they are not absolutely identical – so watch both of them.

Channel 9 – Keeping Sensitive Data Secure with Always Encrypted

YouTube – Secure your data in Azure SQL Database and SQL Data Warehouse

MSFT documentation:

Resolving Transact-SQL differences during migration to SQL Database

This article covers things which will work in SQL queries run on on-prem SQL Server while won’t work while run against Azure SQL DB. For example things you probably discovery very quickly is that USE statement is not supported.

Azure SQL Database – Controlling and granting database access

Article explains unrestricted administrative accounts, server-level administrative roles and non-administrator users + “access paths”.

Sizes for Windows virtual machines in Azure

General purpose virtual machine sizes

High performance compute VM sizes

You may expect questions around VM sizing based on given requirements so need to remember which series has premium storage and which not along with some other things which you can learn from the articles above.

Securing your SQL Database

Always Encrypted (Database Engine)

Always Encrypted Wizard

This article explains 2 very important things you should be aware of: key storage options and Always Encrypted Terms.

SQL Database dynamic data masking

Azure Blog – Microsoft Azure SQL Database provides unparalleled data security in the cloud with Always Encrypted

Azure SQL has loads of security features and you supposed to know them all 🙂 At least when to use, along with requirements and limitations.

Azure Cosmos DB: SQL API getting started tutorial

Get started with Azure Table storage and the Azure Cosmos DB Table API using .NET

ADO.NET Overview

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SQL script to attach detached non-consolidated K2 DBs

I keep playing with SQL and non-consolidated K2 DBs and in previous post I covered bringing “these 14” back online, now I realized that other case where SSMS requires way too many click is attaching “these 14” back (let’s say after you rebuild your SQL instance system DBs to change instance collation).

Quick google allowed me to find relevant question on dba.stackexchange.com where I took script which generates CREATE DATABASE FOR ATTACH for all existing user databases. Next having my 14 non consolidated K2 DBs I generated the following script to attach them back in bulk:

You can either use this CREATE DATABASE FOR ATTACH for all existing user databases script while your K2 databases are still attached, of it they are not just replace paths in script listed above and execute modified script to attach them quickly.

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SQL Script to switch all currently RO databases to RW mode

I was doing some testing of K2 databases consolidation process which required me to re-run database consolidation process more than once to re-try it. Unfortunately K2 Database Consolidation Tool leaves all databases in read-only mode if something fails during consolidation process. If you remember K2 used to have 14 separate data bases prior to consolidated DB was introduced (see picture below).

Typing 14 statements manually to bring all these database to read-write mode is a bit time consuming so I came up with the following script:

Essentially it will select all databases currently in RO state and will output bunch of statements to bring all of them to RW state as an output:

Just copy-paste this script output into new query window of SSMS and press F5 🙂

It may be useful for you once in a while (and if not for this specific use case, then as an example of generating some repetitive statements which contain select statement results inside).

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SQL Server: new instance installation frozen on “SqlEngineConfigAction_install_startup_Cpu64” step

I was installing additional new instance of SQL Server 2012 on a machine where other instance was installed earlier. In the process I run into the problem where Setup wuzard just frozen on about 99% on SqlEngineConfigAction_install_startup_Cpu64 step without flagging any errors and making no progress for hours, so that Setup window looks like that all the time:

I realized that I’ve seen it before but not made any efforts to fix it beyond starting process from scratch. This time I did some googling and found that there may be quite a few reasons for this problem, for example see this blog post: “Your SQL Server Setup may hang forever when it’s almost at the 99 %!” on MSDN Blogs. I tried a few suggestion with no luck but in the process I’ve noticed that Windows service for my new named instance has been already created but frozen in “Starting” state, so killing and restarting it manually revived SQL Setup Manager and it completed installation process with flying colors in a minute after this. So it seems SQL Setup Manager just endlessly waits for service started confirmation or something like this without any time out in place… Anyhow I’m just taking a note of my fix in case somebody else or myself run into this again.

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Configuring SQL instance firewall rules via PowerShell

Doing distributed environments setups rather frequently these days I realized that I really don’t want wasting my time setting up SQL Server firewall rules via GUI (I described the process here) and luckily enough Ryan Mangan already created such script. All I had to do is try it (confirm that it works), save it on GitHub and share on my blog for the benefit of wider community:

Original blog post by Ryan/source of this script: PowerShell Script for SQL Firewall rules

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PS script to get SQL version from BAK file

Quite unpleasant thing about MS SQL Server database backup files it that you can’t restore them on an older version of SQL Server (it seems that even if you really want to create such BAK file it is not possible), moreover this is valid not only for major versions but also for things like R2, meaning you can’t restore BAK file created in SQL Server 2008 R2 on SQL Server 2008 Server (non-R2).

Just to save my time trying to restore BAK files against wrong versions of SQL Server I created this script which allows you to retrieve SQL version from BAK file headers and compare it with your server SQL version. Specify path to your BAK file and check the output – if BAK file SQL version is newer that your server version then BAK file can’t be restored on this server. Sample script output can be found below:

It tells you that backup was taken on SQL Server 2012 SP3, while you run SQL Server 2012 SP2. Once you install SP3 for SQL Server script output will change to this:

Once two numbers match you are ready for backup restore 🙂

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