Security is of paramount importance in any IT context today, especially when you are looking to protect something as precious and potentially vulnerable to attack as an SQL server.

Here is a quick primer on the basic aspects of security which matters most for SQL server solutions, since the cost of a breach will vastly outweigh the effort of learning and following best practices.

Encryption

There is no doubt that encryption should be part of any modern DataOps strategy, particularly given the scope and scale of the threats that exist in the age of unfettered connectivity.

You can encrypt data stored on your SQL server, and indeed you should make sure that this is enabled as standard. You also need to take into account how the data is protected when it is in transit, when it might be exposed to exploitation while passing through public networks and devices.

There are different types of encryption to consider, with SSL encryption keeping data safe when it is on the move while cell-level encryption will allow comprehensive protection even while the data is cached on server RAM. The greater the level of encryption you choose, the more potential complications can arise, so it is a matter of balancing your needs against the risks.

Backup

All the security measures in the world will be for naught if your SQL server is breached, damaged or otherwise compromised in such a way that leaves the information it contains inaccessible or unrecoverable for some reason.

This is why a good SQL server backup solution needs to be factored into your security efforts, providing you with a lifeline to restore mission-critical data in the direst of circumstances.

There are quite a few points to consider when selecting a backup strategy. Opting for a differential backup, for example, will allow you to perform the backup process faster and without the same penalty in terms of storage requirements. A full backup will form the foundations of a differential backup as well as being used to underpin transaction log backups, which allow for time-specific restoration.

All backup varieties take time and require a commitment of hardware and network resources, while also posing a security risk in their own right, so remember not to overlook this aspect.

Access

Managing access to your SQL server is vital, not just in terms of taking control of which users and apps can retrieve data or make changes to the database, but also with regards to the physical hardware itself.

This is not something that will immediately seem obvious, especially at a time when more and more organizations are choosing to migrate to remotely hosted or hybrid cloud setups, but even if your IT resources feel nebulous, they are still founded on tangible servers.

If you are directly responsible for housing this hardware, restricting physical access to it is just as crucial as vetting digital access. Locking server rooms is a minimum; making sure that only employees with a legitimate reason to access them should also be part of your security protocols.

Updates

Although cybersecurity threats are growing and evolving all the time, software firms do a good job of fixing vulnerabilities and patching problems whenever they rear their heads.

This means that it is the responsibility of SQL server specialists to keep their software up to date, installing vital security patches as soon as possible. Failure to do so will leave you exposed unnecessarily and could lead to breaches that would have been entirely preventable. Both the SQL software and the OS it runs on need to be updated as a matter of urgency.