Many of you have heard the recent news that Microsoft is releasing SQL Server for the Linux and Docker platforms, which is available as a pre-release called SQL Server v.Next.
I am sure many IT and Security folks are celebrating Microsoft’s decision to embrace additional platforms. However, this new support presents users with additional security challenges.
For example, to install and run SQL Server v.Next on Docker, according to Microsoft’s directions, you would:
- Pull the Docker image from Docker Hub
- Run the Docker image using the following command
docker run –e 'ACCEPT_EULA=Y' –e 'SA_PASSWORD=<YourStrong!Passw0rd>' -p 1433:1433 -d microsoft/mssql-server-linux
Now the accepted practice to set credentials in the stateless container is to use environment variables. You can see this in the -e parameter 'SA_PASSWORD=<YourStrong!Passw0rd>'.
The big problem with this approach is that the SA credentials will appear in the bash history. Not only this, but the credentials will also show in the output of the ps command (used to list running applications). This effectively exposes the Super User account to any admin with access to the host machine.
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem.
The PowerBroker Password Safe API can be leveraged within a Python wrapper that securely extracts the SA account password from Password Safe, and then runs the container using the Python Docker client.
This is just one example of using dynamic real-time substitution to replace hard-coded credentials. The additional benefit of this approach is that as soon as SQL Server is launched, the credentials may be automatically rotated to a new random value so any bash history values would be out of date. The next time the container is run, the API would simply pull down the latest password, launch, and then rotate the credentials as before.
BeyondTrust's PowerBroker Password Safe enables secure credential rotation/storage, advanced workflow control, auto-launch, and session recording for administrative sessions to most major database platforms. For true dual-control, PowerBroker Password Safe allows administrative activities to be monitored in real-time. Password Safe not only enables the remote termination of these sessions, but also has the ability to pause (or lock) a session that is already in progress.
With capabilities such as these from Password Safe, organizations can reduce risk of the unauthorized release of privileged credentials. If you would like to learn more about how Password Safe can help, request a personalized demo.
Martin has been helping organizations solve challenges in the privileged account management and identity and access management space for over 24 years. At Dell Software, Martin managed a team of Solution Architects, focused on designing and implementing solutions in the Privileged Account Management (PAM) space. Prior to joining Dell, Martin was Sr. Product Manager for Novell Privileged User Manager, a privilege management application acquired from Fortefi, an organization where he served as Vice President, Corporate Development. Prior to this, he was Program Manager of Client Technologies at Symantec where he was responsible for many ground-breaking field and channel enablement applications. Additionally, Martin managed the European QA group at Axent Technologies and has held various management positions in consulting, systems development, and operations. Martin is a regular speaker for security events, and webinars.