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security issues for an application server

Posted on 2013-02-07
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Last Modified: 2013-02-27
I am not a systems developer, but we have an internal payroll application, that essentially has 2 servers in its architecture, a database server running MS-SQL Server, and an application server, both have windows 2008 server as OS. A security audit has found a weak password associated with a local OS account which is members of the admins group. My question is what is the overall risk, the data is stored on the database server not the application server, so if someone exploited this weak password and got admin access to the application server, what’s the risk, what could they? What “data” is typically installed an the application server? Surely the higher risk server is the database server which houses the actual data.
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Question by:pma111
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There is a large risk here, as someone compromising an administrative account on a server machine could use it to then create administrative other accounts that could, potentially, be used to access other networked devices. This would give them access to the data server also, and you're obviously trying to avoid that.

Any administrator accounts should always have strong passwords. Just because the server that the account sits on (or is used on) doesn't host important data itself, that doesn't mean it can't be used to get access to that data.
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Thanks.... How so? I appreciate if you get local admin access you could create additional local admins, but that's just on that server isn't it? Ie if I have local admin access on my domain laptop I can't access or create additional admins on another laptop.
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
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You're missing the point all administrative accounts MUST have strong passwords.. Having 1 weak password opens an attack vector i.e. the ability to modify an application, add malicious code and wait ... thus gaining the ability to compromise the network...
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by:pma111
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I am not missing the point at all, I am fully aware they all MUST have strong passwords, but from a risk perspective I want to understand what the ultimate is as per the question.
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by:pma111
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Still awaitng some clarifacation on:

How so? I appreciate if you get local admin access you could create additional local admins, but that's just on that server isn't it? Ie if I have local admin access on my domain laptop I can't access or create additional admins on another laptop.
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
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Depends if the local admin has access to the sql db server .. sql has different security rules than the operating system. but they could always just copy the entire database if located on the database server.
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