Microsoft SQL Server password cracking

From: Barry Dorrans (barryd@VIRTUEAPPLICATIONS.COM)
Date: 07/09/02

Date:         Tue, 9 Jul 2002 09:59:37 +0100
From: Barry Dorrans <barryd@VIRTUEAPPLICATIONS.COM>

Note : This email has gone to both NTBUGTRAQ and - please
direct your replies to the list you are subscribed too.

Some of you will have seen the register article on SQL server password

As usual, Mr Greene's reporting is accurate to a point, but leaves out
any mitigating circumstances, and in this case the migating circumstance
makes the password cracker a not useful tool. Judging from my attempts
to get Microsoft security articles fixed before, I don't hold out much
hope for accuracy either. So I thought I'd fire off this email to the
lists in order to halt some worries.

The password cracker relies on getting access to the hashes that SQL
users to store old style usernames and passwords. This are stored within
a SQL database on the servers, and can be retrieved. However, they can
ONLY be retrieved by users who already have SA rights. This is the
information that theregister, and Mr Greene leaves out. The hashes are
stored in sysxlogins, which is not available to your average joe user.

Now of course there are numerous people out there who haven't set SA
passwords, as the spread of the SQL worm last month showed, but for
anyone with an ounce of sense this password cracker will not create
problems. It CANNOT work by simply pointing it at an MS SQL server.

As I recommended when the SQL worm started (the last time I attempted to
correct theregister, again, never corrected), you should consider using
NT usernames and passwords. I also suggest that you make sure that
logging of failed SQL logins are turned on (this is off by default) -
open SQL enterprise manager, right click on your server, choose
properties and then choose security.

For those of you not in a domain or AD environment, you can still use
NTLM security by mirroring usernames and passwords, see my
post archived at



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