Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.

Essential SQL Server security tools

Read this tip where writer Ashish Kumar Mehta shares his all-time favorite native and third-party SQL Server security tools.

Editor's note: This is the third part in a series on SQL Server security. Check out both Why SQL security matters and SQL Server security 2012 for more on SQL Server security.

SQL Server security tools can help a database administrator (DBA) quickly perform security audits on SQL Server, which will help them as they manage their day-to-day jobs. This article will present to you an overview of some third-party and native tools that can be used to identify security loopholes within a SQL Server instance.

Idera SQL Compliance Manager

Idera SQL Compliance Manager is a comprehensive SQL Server auditing tool that can help you monitor, audit and alert SQL Server user activities and data changes. You can get detailed visibility into who did what and when, and how changes were implemented. It can be used to track changes, monitor and audit data access, schema changes and login failures. There are several built-in reports to validate SQL Server audit trails. A DBA can configure alerts to get notified of suspicious activity. Idera SQL Compliance Manager can help you ensure compliance with regulatory and data security requirements, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, GLBA, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and Basel II across multiple SQL Servers. I have noticed that there is also minimal overhead when running this tool.

ApexSQL Audit

ApexSQL Audit is a comprehensive tool that supports tracking data changes to SQL Database. It can capture and store data changes to a central database and tracks who did what and when, and how changes were implemented. This tool supports comprehensive audit reports that are run out of the central database. It can also inform a user about how and when an incident occurred, capturing relevant information such as which SQL or Windows host and application name was involved. Finally, this tool can also track table definition changes and unauthorized or malicious changes.

Application Security Inc. DbProtect database security

Application Security Inc.'s DbProtect database security is a comprehensive database security and compliance tool that organizations can use to monitor database security needs. This tool can identify vulnerabilities within a database, identify user entitlements, enforce user access control and user privileges, implement appropriate policies to identify vulnerabilities, and can alert users in case of any suspicious activities.

Quest ChangeAuditor for SQL Server

More on SQL Server tools

Denny Cherry's favorite native tools

Third-party tools you should check out

Quest ChangeAuditor for SQL Server tracks, audits, reports and alerts you to any changes to your environment in real time. This tool is capable of tracking all user and administrator activity, such as who made what kind of changes, when the changes were implemented and from which work station changes were carried out. This tool monitors for critical change within the environment, and you can configure to get alerted in real time whenever there are critical changes to your environment. Since this tool maintains a centralized repository, it makes it easier to monitor multiple servers from a single location. It also supports role-based access, thereby allowing auditors to run searches and reports without the ability to make any configuration changes to the application.

Auditing feature in SQL Server 2008

Microsoft introduced the SQL Server audit feature in SQL Server 2008. SQL Server Audit uses extended events to perform audits, thereby helping DBAs meet regulatory compliance requirements. However, this feature is currently available only in SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition.

Microsoft SQL Server Best Practices Analyzer

Microsoft SQL Server Best Practices Analyzer is a free diagnostic tool that can be used by database administrators to identify vulnerabilities within an installed instance of SQL Server. Using this tool, a database administrator can quickly gather information with respect to configuration settings of SQL Server and Windows. This tool has built-in rules to determine SQL Server configurations and determine whether the environment is configured according to best practices outlined by Microsoft. This tool reports all configurations within an instance of SQL Server that are not set according to best practices. This tool can also help a DBA identify potential problems within an installed instance of SQL Server. What I like most about this tool is that it volunteers recommendations for potential issues it identifies, which can help you to fix them quickly.

Dig Deeper on SQL Server Security