Category Archives: Networking

SQL Server Windows Authentication (MIX Mode Authenticatio)

SSPI (Security Support Provider Interface)

SSPI allows an application to use various security models available on a computer or network without changing the interface to the security system.

What is Kerberos?

Kerberos is a network authentication protocol. It is designed to provide strong authentication for client/server applications by using secret-key cryptography. A free implementation of this protocol is available from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Kerberos is available in many commercial products as well.

The Internet is an insecure place. Many of the protocols used in the Internet do not provide any security. Tools to “sniff” passwords off of the network are in common use by malicious hackers. Thus, applications which send an unencrypted password over the network are extremely vulnerable. Worse yet, other client/server applications rely on the client program to be “honest” about the identity of the user who is using it. Other applications rely on the client to restrict its activities to those which it is allowed to do, with no other enforcement by the server.

Some sites attempt to use firewalls to solve their network security problems. Unfortunately, firewalls assume that “the bad guys” are on the outside, which is often a very bad assumption. Most of the really damaging incidents of computer crime are carried out by insiders. Firewalls also have a significant disadvantage in that they restrict how your users can use the Internet. (After all, firewalls are simply a less extreme example of the dictum that there is nothing more secure then a computer which is not connected to the network — and powered off!) In many places, these restrictions are simply unrealistic and unacceptable.

Kerberos was created by MIT as a solution to these network security problems. The Kerberos protocol uses strong cryptography so that a client can prove its identity to a server (and vice versa) across an insecure network connection. After a client and server has used Kerberos to prove their identity, they can also encrypt all of their communications to assure privacy and data integrity as they go about their business.

Kerberos is freely available from MIT, under copyright permissions very similar those used for the BSD operating system and the X Window System. MIT provides Kerberos in source form so that anyone who wishes to use it may look over the code for themselves and assure themselves that the code is trustworthy. In addition, for those who prefer to rely on a professionally supported product, Kerberos is available as a product from many different vendors.

In summary, Kerberos is a solution to your network security problems. It provides the tools of authentication and strong cryptography over the network to help you secure your information systems across your entire enterprise. We hope you find Kerberos as useful as it has been to us. At MIT, Kerberos has been invaluable to our Information/Technology architecture.

NTLM (NT LAN Manager)

NTLM is a suite of authentication and session security protocols used in various Microsoft network protocol implementations and supported by the NTLM Security Support Provider (“NTLMSSP”). Originally used for authentication and negotiation of secure DCE/RPC, NTLM is also used throughout Microsoft’s systems as an integrated single sign-on mechanism. It is probably best recognized as part of the “Integrated Windows Authentication” stack for HTTP authentication; however, it is also used in Microsoft implementations of SMTP, POP3, IMAP (all part of Exchange), CIFS/SMB, Telnet, SIP, and possibly others.

The NTLM Security Support Provider provides authentication, integrity, and confidentiality services within the Window Security Support Provider Interface (SSPI) framework. SSPI specifies a core set of security functionality that is implemented by supporting providers; the NTLMSSP is such a provider. The SSPI specifies, and the NTLMSSP implements, the following core operations:

1. Authentication — NTLM provides a challenge-response authentication mechanism, in which clients are able to prove their identities without sending a password to the server.

2. Signing — The NTLMSSP provides a means of applying a digital “signature” to a message. This ensures that the signed message has not been modified (either accidentally or intentionally) and that that signing party has knowledge of a shared secret. NTLM implements a symmetric signature scheme (Message Authentication Code, or MAC); that is, a valid signature can only be generated and verified by parties that possess the common shared key.

3. Sealing — The NTLMSSP implements a symmetric-key encryption mechanism, which provides message confidentiality. In the case of NTLM, sealing also implies signing (a signed message is not necessarily sealed, but all sealed messages are signed).

NTLM has been largely supplanted by Kerberos as the authentication protocol of choice for domain-based scenarios. However, Kerberos is a trusted-third-party scheme, and cannot be used in situations where no trusted third party exists; for example, member servers (servers that are not part of a domain), local accounts, and authentication to resources in an untrusted domain. In such scenarios, NTLM continues to be the primary authentication mechanism (and likely will be for a long time).

How to make sure that you are using Kerberos authentication

SQL Server 2005 supports Kerberos authentication indirectly through the Windows Security Support Provider Interface (SSPI) when you are using Windows integrated authentication instead of SQL authentication. However, SQL Server will only use Kerberos authentication under certain circumstances when SQL Server can use SSPI to negotiate the authentication protocol to use. If SQL Server cannot use Kerberos authentication, Windows will use NTLM authentication. For security reasons, we recommend that you use Kerberos authentication instead of NTLM authentication. Administrators and users should know how to make sure that they are using Kerberos authentication for remote connections.

To use Kerberos authentication, you must make sure that all the following conditions are true:

• Both the server and the client computers must be members of the same Windows domain or members of trusted domains.

• The server’s service principal name (SPN) must be registered in the Active Directory service.

• The instance of SQL Server 2005 must enable the TCP/IP protocol.

• The client must connect to the instance of SQL Server 2005 by using the TCP/IP protocol. For example, you can put the TCP/IP protocol at the top of the client’s protocol order. Or you can add the prefix “tcp:” in the connection string to specify that the connection will use the TCP/IP protocol.

After you connected to an instance of SQL Server 2005, run the following Transact-SQL statement in SQL Server Management Studio:

select auth_scheme from sys.dm_exec_connections where session_id=@@spid 

If SQL Server is using Kerberos authentication, a character string that is listed as “KERBEROS” appears in the auth_scheme column in the result window.

Networking Terms

Networking Terms


A virtual IP address (VIP or VIPA) is an IP address that is not connected to a specific computer or network interface card (NIC) on a computer. Incoming packets are sent to the VIP address, but all packets travel through real network interfaces.

VIPs are mostly used for connection redundancy; a VIP address may still be available if a computer or NIC fails because an alternative computer or NIC replies to connections

We can also use VIP for load balancing and Automatic Failover

Port Number

Definition: A port number represents an endpoint or “channel” for network communications. Port numbers allow different applications on the same computer to utilize network resources without interfering with each other.

Port numbers most commonly appear in network programming, particularly socket programming. Sometimes, though, port numbers are made visible to the casual user. For example, some Web sites a person visits on the Internet use a URL like the following:

In this example, the number 8080 refers to the port number used by the Web browser to connect to the Web server. Normally, a Web site uses port number 80 and this number need not be included with the URL (although it can be).

In IP networking, port numbers can theoretically range from 0 to 65535. Most popular network applications, though, use port numbers at the low end of the range (such as 80 for HTTP). The port number is included as a field within the header of each IP packet.

Note: The term port also refers to several other aspects of network technology. A port can refer to a physical connection point for peripheral devices such as serial, parallel, and USB ports. The term port also refers to certain Ethernet connection points, such as those on a hub, switch, or router.

You can find the list of port number at below URL

UDP (User Datagram Protocol)

Definition: UDP is a lightweight transport built on top of IP. UDP squeezes extra performance from IP by not implementing some of the features a more heavyweight protocol like TCP offers. Specifically, UDP allows individual packets to be dropped (with no retries) and UDP packets to be received in a different order than they were sent.

UDP is often used in videoconferencing applications or games where optimal performance is preferred over guaranteed message delivery. UDP is one of the oldest network protocols, introduced in 1980 in RFC document 768.

DNS Server (Domain Name System)

Definition: The DNS translates Internet domain and host names to IP Addresses. DNS automatically converts the names we type in our Web browser address bar to the IP addresses of Web servers hosting those sites.

DNS implements a distributed database to store this name and address information for all public hosts on the Internet. DNS assumes IP addresses do not change (are statically assigned rather than dynamically assigned).

The DNS database resides on a hierarchy of special database servers. When clients like Web browsers issue requests involving Internet host names, a piece of software called the DNS resolver (usually built into the network operating system) first contacts a DNS server to determine the server’s IP address. If the DNS server does not contain the needed mapping, it will in turn forward the request to a different DNS server at the next higher level in the hierarchy. After potentially several forwarding and delegation messages are sent within the DNS hierarchy, the IP address for the given host eventually arrives at the resolver, that in turn completes the request over Internet Protocol.

DNS additionally includes support for caching requests and for redundancy. Most network operating systems support configuration of primary, secondary, and tertiary DNS servers, each of which can service initial requests from clients. ISPs maintain their own DNS servers and use DHCP to automatically configure clients, relieving most home users of the burden of DNS configuration.

Also Known As: Domain Name System, Domain Name Service, Domain Name Server

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Definition: DHCP allows a computer to join an IP-based network without having a pre-configured IP address. DHCP is a protocol that assigns unique IP addresses to devices, then releases and renews these addresses as devices leave and re-join the network.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) usually use DHCP to allow customers to join the Internet with minimum effort. Likewise, home network equipment like broadband routers offers DHCP support for added convenience in joining home computers to the LAN.

DHCP environments require a DHCP server set up with the appropriate configuration parameters for the given network. Key DHCP parameters include the range or “pool” of available IP addresses, the correct subnet masks, plus gateway and name server addresses.

Devices running DHCP client software can then automatically retrieve these settings from DHCP servers as needed. Using DHCP on a network means system administrators do not need to configure these parameters individually for each client device.

NetBIOS Definition: NetBIOS is a software protocol for providing computer communication services on local networks. Microsoft Windows uses NetBIOS on Ethernet or Token Ring networks.

Software applications on a NetBIOS network locate each other via their NetBIOS names. A NetBIOS name is up to 16 characters long and in Windows, separate from the computer name. Applications on other computers access NetBIOS names over UDP port 137. It provides name resolution services for NetBIOS.

Two applications start a NetBIOS session when one (the client) sends a command to “Call” another (the server) over TCP port 139 on a remote computer. Both sides issue “Send” and “Receive” commands to deliver messages in both directions. The “Hang-Up” command terminates a NetBIOS session.

NetBIOS also supports connectionless communications via UDP datagrams. Applications listen on UDP port 138 to receive NetBIOS datagrams.

NetBIOS and NetBEUI are separate but related technologies. NetBEUI extends NetBIOS with additional networking capabilities.

Also Known As: Network Basic Input/Output System

WINS Definition: The Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS) supports name resolution, the automated conversion of computer names to network addresses, for Windows networks. Specifically, WINS converts NETBIOS names to IP addresses on a LAN or WAN.

Like DNS, the Windows Internet Naming Service employs a distributed client/server system to maintain the mapping of computer names to addresses. Windows clients can be configured to use primary and secondary WINS servers that dynamically update name/address pairings as computers join and leave the network. The dynamic behavior of WINS means that it also supports networks using