SQL and IIS on public facing server

Is it considered a security concern if your internet facing IIS server also hosts a SQL Server? Is this common practice, or bad practice? is the SQL database considered more vulnerable than if on a server in a private network? if the data in the database isn't sensitive does it really matter?
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pma111Asked:
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Carl TawnSystems and Integration DeveloperCommented:
Yes, it is a concern. In most real-world scenarios the SQL server will be at the very least be sat in a DMZ with an additional firewall sat between it and the public facing web server.
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pma111Author Commented:
Do you mean on a separate server in the DMZ? are there reasons why the SQL Server needs to be in the DMZ, and not in the private network behind the firewall, and then just an ACL between the web server and the DB server created, I presume?
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Carl TawnSystems and Integration DeveloperCommented:
You'll often find the web server and SQL Server located in the DMZ. Primarily to keep a separation between them and your internal network (should your SQL Server become compromised, for example, an attacker can do less damage from a compromised machine in the DMZ than it can from one on your internal network).

This article might be worth a read:  http://www.windowsecurity.com/articles-tutorials/web_server_security/Secure_Architecture_SQL_Web_Server.html
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Michael MachieFull-time technical multi-taskerCommented:
You can also place your SQL server inside your intranet and leave the IIS server on the DMZ. Open port 1433 on your firewall from your DMZ to your intranet and specify the required IPs..

Example:
DMZ Server at IP: 192.168.4.56
Intranet SQL Server at IP: 192.168.1.60

Allow firewall access for DMZ server 192.168.4.56 to Intranet SQL server 192.168.1.60 via TCP port 1433
This will protect your SQL server from the public and grant the DMZ IIS server access to your internal SQL server.
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pma111Author Commented:
is the concern with such a design that a SQL Server is far more exploitble when hosted on a web server than it is when hosted in your intranet/private network?
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Carl TawnSystems and Integration DeveloperCommented:
Partly. If you're SQL Server isn't properly locked-down then it is open to being exploited wherever it is. Hosting SQL Server in your DMZ means that, if it is compromised, the ability to attack the internal network is lessened.

The reason SQL Server and web servers are traditionally separated onto different hardware is more down to the widly different

Also, you should never run a production SQL Server on the default ports - they're well known and are therefore an obvious attack vector.
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pma111Author Commented:
so basically the SQL Server can be in the DMZ, but on a dedicated/seperate server, and not on the same server as the web server also in the DMZ.
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Carl TawnSystems and Integration DeveloperCommented:
In an ideal world yes. But infrastructure (and budget) vary wildly, so the ideal solution may not be suitable for you. But you are essentially talking about two separate things.

Separating the SQL server to a separate box is about resource management and configuration; whereas moving things in and out of the DMZ is about network boundary security.

All you can do is weigh up the options and see which one best suits you and your environment/budget. A fully locked-down SQL Server should, in theory at least, be just as safe on your internal network as it is in the DMZ - in theory!
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