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Thick client application security (C# <-> SQL Server 2008 Express) .NET 4. Looking for good advice here

Posted on 2010-09-07
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
"Standard" thick client application.
Existing application, this means that major refactoring will take a lot of time. Application is moving from inhouse solution to product. Making it a 3-tier application is not an option at the moment.
I am not intending to overdo the security bit but I do not want to make really basic mistakes. This software will be located at customer locations and I need a good security architecture that we can stand behind.

SQL statements are currently written in the client code. All statements follows "Prepared Statement" format (named parameters), no string concatenations are made. That should prevent SQL injection.

Encrypted connection between client and database
Passwords will be hashed in the client and validated at the database
Sensitive information in SQL Server tables will be encrypted using SQL Server's encryption features
Client will check that the user belongs to a certain Active Directory user group
C# assemblies will be obsfucated, encrypted using some software intended for this use. I was looking at Remotesoft's Salamander but that is not an option anymore. Perhaps {smartassembly}

Here you can get some info on security issued concerning thick clients.
Client/Server Security Assessment and Awareness
Thick Client Application Security

Application has it's own login for the users and uses only one account with the database. Any ideas on this? How do I store database login at the client location? In the resource file?
Other considerations?
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Question by:jerra
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Marten Rune earned 500 total points
ID: 33617266
You don't

If you want security, deploy your thick application using AD, grant this AD group the necessary rights to the database. If you want to do this correctly, rewrite all sql statements in the thick application to use stored procs instead, with parameters ofcourse. Now grant execute to this AD group on the stored procedures.

You now hava a security solution that relies on kerberos authentication, should a user want to do anything unauthorized, he can't since all he can do is execute the stored procedures designed by you, the underlying tables are of limits for the users in this AD group.

Regards Marten
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by:jerra
ID: 33617317
Thanks!
Ok, with your recommended changes made do you see other obvious security problems?

Just one thought that came to mind. What if the customer doesn't use AD? Just a single computer or two. (argh so much to consider)

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Author Comment

by:jerra
ID: 33617365
Nevermind, we'll think of some way to bundle SQL Server with our software in these cases where the customer doesn't use AD.
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Author Comment

by:jerra
ID: 33617383
I am assuming you mean that this type of architecture then uses SSPI connection type?
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by:Marten Rune
ID: 33618062
Quote: 'I am assuming you mean that this type of architecture then uses SSPI connection type?'

SSPI = integrated = kerberos = Yes! Ofcourse
:-)

Good luck. If you have any more questions, fire away.
//Marten
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Author Comment

by:jerra
ID: 33620610
OK thanks.
When you wrote "deploy your thick application using AD" does it have to be deployed through Group Policy? Can't it be installed normally?
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by:Marten Rune
ID: 33622156
yea it can, but you are missing the point. the ad group both deployes the app and grants the rights to execute the stored procs. it makes a neat package

\\Maryen
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Author Comment

by:jerra
ID: 33624382
Personally I am not too familiar with AD and how to deploy software using policies but I will pass the information on! Thanks a lot!
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