An alternative to data masking

Dynamic data masking is a neat new feature in recent SQL Server versions that allows you to protect sensitive information from non-privileged users by masking it. But using a brute-force guessing attack, even a non-privileged user can guess the contents of a masked column. And if you’re on SQL Server 2014 or earlier, you won’t have the option of using data masking at all.

Read on to see how you can bypass dynamic data masking, and for an alternative approach that uses SQL Server column-level security instead.

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Encrypting SQL Server connections with Let’s Encrypt certificates

Encrypting your SQL Server’s TDS connections should be high on your list of things to do if you’re concerned with the privacy of your data. This often boils down to one big problem: can you get a valid certificate without paying a ton of money, and will it work with SQL Server?

So follow me down the rabbit hole, as we work out the steps to using Let’s Encrypt to create (and auto-renew!) a certificate for SQL Server. This is going to get technical.

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Detaching a database also alters file permissions

Moving a database or some of its files from one drive to another or from one instance of SQL Server to another is as simple as detaching it and re-attaching it again. This is actually pretty smart, compared to backuprestore, because you only perform one I/O operation (moving the file), as opposed to two (backing up, restoring).

But when you try to attach the database, you might get something like

Msg 5120, Level 16, State 101, Line 3
Unable to open the physical file "E:\Microsoft SQL Server\SQL2014\MSSQL\Data\Playlist.mdf".
Operating system error 5: "5(Access is denied.)".

The reason, as I found out the hard way, is that SQL Server can actually modify the file permissions of the .mdf and .ldf files when it detaches a database.

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