Split-merge security configuration

APPLIES TO: yesAzure SQL Database

To use the Split/Merge service, you must correctly configure security. The service is part of the Elastic Scale feature of Azure SQL Database. For more information, see Elastic Scale Split and Merge Service Tutorial.

Configuring certificates

Certificates are configured in two ways.

  1. To Configure the TLS/SSL Certificate
  2. To Configure Client Certificates

To obtain certificates

Certificates can be obtained from public Certificate Authorities (CAs) or from the Windows Certificate Service. These are the preferred methods to obtain certificates.

If those options are not available, you can generate self-signed certificates.

Tools to generate certificates

To run the tools

To configure the TLS/SSL certificate

A TLS/SSL certificate is required to encrypt the communication and authenticate the server. Choose the most applicable of the three scenarios below, and execute all its steps:

Create a new self-signed certificate

  1. Create a Self-Signed Certificate
  2. Create PFX file for Self-Signed TLS/SSL Certificate
  3. Upload TLS/SSL Certificate to Cloud Service
  4. Update TLS/SSL Certificate in Service Configuration File
  5. Import TLS/SSL Certification Authority

To use an existing certificate from the certificate store

  1. Export TLS/SSL Certificate From Certificate Store
  2. Upload TLS/SSL Certificate to Cloud Service
  3. Update TLS/SSL Certificate in Service Configuration File

To use an existing certificate in a PFX file

  1. Upload TLS/SSL Certificate to Cloud Service
  2. Update TLS/SSL Certificate in Service Configuration File

To configure client certificates

Client certificates are required in order to authenticate requests to the service. Choose the most applicable of the three scenarios below, and execute all its steps:

Turn off client certificates

  1. Turn Off Client Certificate-Based Authentication

Issue new self-signed client certificates

  1. Create a Self-Signed Certification Authority
  2. Upload CA Certificate to Cloud Service
  3. Update CA Certificate in Service Configuration File
  4. Issue Client Certificates
  5. Create PFX files for Client Certificates
  6. Import Client Certificate
  7. Copy Client Certificate Thumbprints
  8. Configure Allowed Clients in the Service Configuration File

Use existing client certificates

  1. Find CA Public Key
  2. Upload CA Certificate to Cloud Service
  3. Update CA Certificate in Service Configuration File
  4. Copy Client Certificate Thumbprints
  5. Configure Allowed Clients in the Service Configuration File
  6. Configure Client Certificate Revocation Check

Allowed IP addresses

Access to the service endpoints can be restricted to specific ranges of IP addresses.

To configure encryption for the store

A certificate is required to encrypt the credentials that are stored in the metadata store. Choose the most applicable of the three scenarios below, and execute all its steps:

Use a new self-signed certificate

  1. Create a Self-Signed Certificate
  2. Create PFX file for Self-Signed Encryption Certificate
  3. Upload Encryption Certificate to Cloud Service
  4. Update Encryption Certificate in Service Configuration File

Use an existing certificate from the certificate store

  1. Export Encryption Certificate From Certificate Store
  2. Upload Encryption Certificate to Cloud Service
  3. Update Encryption Certificate in Service Configuration File

Use an existing certificate in a PFX file

  1. Upload Encryption Certificate to Cloud Service
  2. Update Encryption Certificate in Service Configuration File

The default configuration

The default configuration denies all access to the HTTP endpoint. This is the recommended setting, since the requests to these endpoints may carry sensitive information like database credentials. The default configuration allows all access to the HTTPS endpoint. This setting may be restricted further.

Changing the Configuration

The group of access control rules that apply to and endpoint are configured in the <EndpointAcls> section in the service configuration file.

<EndpointAcls>
    <EndpointAcl role="SplitMergeWeb" endPoint="HttpIn" accessControl="DenyAll" />
    <EndpointAcl role="SplitMergeWeb" endPoint="HttpsIn" accessControl="AllowAll" />
</EndpointAcls>

The rules in an access control group are configured in a <AccessControl name=""> section of the service configuration file.

The format is explained in Network Access Control Lists documentation. For example, to allow only IPs in the range 100.100.0.0 to 100.100.255.255 to access the HTTPS endpoint, the rules would look like this:

<AccessControl name="Retricted">
    <Rule action="permit" description="Some" order="1" remoteSubnet="100.100.0.0/16"/>
    <Rule action="deny" description="None" order="2" remoteSubnet="0.0.0.0/0" />
</AccessControl>
<EndpointAcls>
    <EndpointAcl role="SplitMergeWeb" endPoint="HttpsIn" accessControl="Restricted" />
</EndpointAcls>

Denial of service prevention

There are two different mechanisms supported to detect and prevent Denial of Service attacks:

  • Restrict number of concurrent requests per remote host (off by default)
  • Restrict rate of access per remote host (on by default)

These are based on the features further documented in Dynamic IP Security in IIS. When changing this configuration beware of the following factors:

  • The behavior of proxies and Network Address Translation devices over the remote host information
  • Each request to any resource in the web role is considered (for example, loading scripts, images, etc)

Restricting number of concurrent accesses

The settings that configure this behavior are:

<Setting name="DynamicIpRestrictionDenyByConcurrentRequests" value="false" />
<Setting name="DynamicIpRestrictionMaxConcurrentRequests" value="20" />

Change DynamicIpRestrictionDenyByConcurrentRequests to true to enable this protection.

Restricting rate of access

The settings that configure this behavior are:

<Setting name="DynamicIpRestrictionDenyByRequestRate" value="true" />
<Setting name="DynamicIpRestrictionMaxRequests" value="100" />
<Setting name="DynamicIpRestrictionRequestIntervalInMilliseconds" value="2000" />

Configuring the response to a denied request

The following setting configures the response to a denied request:

<Setting name="DynamicIpRestrictionDenyAction" value="AbortRequest" />

Refer to the documentation for Dynamic IP Security in IIS for other supported values.

Operations for configuring service certificates

This topic is for reference only. Follow the configuration steps outlined in:

  • Configure the TLS/SSL certificate
  • Configure client certificates

Create a self-signed certificate

Execute:

makecert ^
  -n "CN=myservice.cloudapp.net" ^
  -e MM/DD/YYYY ^
  -r -cy end -sky exchange -eku "1.3.6.1.5.5.7.3.1" ^
  -a sha256 -len 2048 ^
  -sv MySSL.pvk MySSL.cer

To customize:

  • -n with the service URL. Wildcards ("CN=*.cloudapp.net") and alternative names ("CN=myservice1.cloudapp.net, CN=myservice2.cloudapp.net") are supported.
  • -e with the certificate expiration date Create a strong password and specify it when prompted.

Create PFX file for self-signed TLS/SSL certificate

Execute:

pvk2pfx -pvk MySSL.pvk -spc MySSL.cer

Enter password and then export certificate with these options:

  • Yes, export the private key
  • Export all extended properties

Export TLS/SSL certificate from certificate store

  • Find certificate
  • Click Actions -> All tasks -> Export…
  • Export certificate into a .PFX file with these options:
    • Yes, export the private key
    • Include all certificates in the certification path if possible *Export all extended properties

Upload TLS/SSL certificate to cloud service

Upload certificate with the existing or generated .PFX file with the TLS key pair:

  • Enter the password protecting the private key information

Update TLS/SSL certificate in service configuration file

Update the thumbprint value of the following setting in the service configuration file with the thumbprint of the certificate uploaded to the cloud service:

<Certificate name="SSL" thumbprint="" thumbprintAlgorithm="sha1" />

Import TLS/SSL certification authority

Follow these steps in all account/machine that will communicate with the service:

  • Double-click the .CER file in Windows Explorer
  • In the Certificate dialog, click Install Certificate…
  • Import certificate into the Trusted Root Certification Authorities store

Turn off client certificate-based authentication

Only client certificate-based authentication is supported and disabling it will allow for public access to the service endpoints, unless other mechanisms are in place (for example, Microsoft Azure Virtual Network).

Change these settings to false in the service configuration file to turn off the feature:

<Setting name="SetupWebAppForClientCertificates" value="false" />
<Setting name="SetupWebserverForClientCertificates" value="false" />

Then, copy the same thumbprint as the TLS/SSL certificate in the CA certificate setting:

<Certificate name="CA" thumbprint="" thumbprintAlgorithm="sha1" />

Create a self-signed certification authority

Execute the following steps to create a self-signed certificate to act as a Certification Authority:

makecert ^
-n "CN=MyCA" ^
-e MM/DD/YYYY ^
 -r -cy authority -h 1 ^
 -a sha256 -len 2048 ^
  -sr localmachine -ss my ^
  MyCA.cer

To customize it

  • -e with the certification expiration date

Find CA public key

All client certificates must have been issued by a Certification Authority trusted by the service. Find the public key to the Certification Authority that issued the client certificates that are going to be used for authentication in order to upload it to the cloud service.

If the file with the public key is not available, export it from the certificate store:

  • Find certificate
    • Search for a client certificate issued by the same Certification Authority
  • Double-click the certificate.
  • Select the Certification Path tab in the Certificate dialog.
  • Double-click the CA entry in the path.
  • Take notes of the certificate properties.
  • Close the Certificate dialog.
  • Find certificate
    • Search for the CA noted above.
  • Click Actions -> All tasks -> Export…
  • Export certificate into a .CER with these options:
    • No, do not export the private key
    • Include all certificates in the certification path if possible.
    • Export all extended properties.

Upload CA certificate to cloud service

Upload certificate with the existing or generated .CER file with the CA public key.

Update CA certificate in service configuration file

Update the thumbprint value of the following setting in the service configuration file with the thumbprint of the certificate uploaded to the cloud service:

<Certificate name="CA" thumbprint="" thumbprintAlgorithm="sha1" />

Update the value of the following setting with the same thumbprint:

<Setting name="AdditionalTrustedRootCertificationAuthorities" value="" />

Issue client certificates

Each individual authorized to access the service should have a client certificate issued for their exclusive use and should choose their own strong password to protect its private key.

The following steps must be executed in the same machine where the self-signed CA certificate was generated and stored:

makecert ^
  -n "CN=My ID" ^
  -e MM/DD/YYYY ^
  -cy end -sky exchange -eku "1.3.6.1.5.5.7.3.2" ^
  -a sha256 -len 2048 ^
  -in "MyCA" -ir localmachine -is my ^
  -sv MyID.pvk MyID.cer

Customizing:

  • -n with an ID for to the client that will be authenticated with this certificate
  • -e with the certificate expiration date
  • MyID.pvk and MyID.cer with unique filenames for this client certificate

This command will prompt for a password to be created and then used once. Use a strong password.

Create PFX files for client certificates

For each generated client certificate, execute:

pvk2pfx -pvk MyID.pvk -spc MyID.cer

Customizing:

MyID.pvk and MyID.cer with the filename for the client certificate

Enter password and then export certificate with these options:

  • Yes, export the private key
  • Export all extended properties
  • The individual to whom this certificate is being issued should choose the export password

Import client certificate

Each individual for whom a client certificate has been issued should import the key pair in the machines they will use to communicate with the service:

  • Double-click the .PFX file in Windows Explorer
  • Import certificate into the Personal store with at least this option:
    • Include all extended properties checked

Copy client certificate thumbprints

Each individual for whom a client certificate has been issued must follow these steps in order to obtain the thumbprint of their certificate, which will be added to the service configuration file:

  • Run certmgr.exe
  • Select the Personal tab
  • Double-click the client certificate to be used for authentication
  • In the Certificate dialog that opens, select the Details tab
  • Make sure Show is displaying All
  • Select the field named Thumbprint in the list
  • Copy the value of the thumbprint
    • Delete non-visible Unicode characters in front of the first digit
    • Delete all spaces

Configure Allowed clients in the service configuration file

Update the value of the following setting in the service configuration file with a comma-separated list of the thumbprints of the client certificates allowed access to the service:

<Setting name="AllowedClientCertificateThumbprints" value="" />

Configure client certificate revocation check

The default setting does not check with the Certification Authority for client certificate revocation status. To turn on the checks, if the Certification Authority that issued the client certificates supports such checks, change the following setting with one of the values defined in the X509RevocationMode Enumeration:

<Setting name="ClientCertificateRevocationCheck" value="NoCheck" />

Create PFX file for self-signed encryption certificates

For an encryption certificate, execute:

pvk2pfx -pvk MyID.pvk -spc MyID.cer

Customizing:

MyID.pvk and MyID.cer with the filename for the encryption certificate

Enter password and then export certificate with these options:

  • Yes, export the private key
  • Export all extended properties
  • You will need the password when uploading the certificate to the cloud service.

Export encryption certificate from certificate store

  • Find certificate
  • Click Actions -> All tasks -> Export…
  • Export certificate into a .PFX file with these options:
    • Yes, export the private key
    • Include all certificates in the certification path if possible
  • Export all extended properties

Upload encryption certificate to cloud service

Upload certificate with the existing or generated .PFX file with the encryption key pair:

  • Enter the password protecting the private key information

Update encryption certificate in service configuration file

Update the thumbprint value of the following settings in the service configuration file with the thumbprint of the certificate uploaded to the cloud service:

<Certificate name="DataEncryptionPrimary" thumbprint="" thumbprintAlgorithm="sha1" />

Common certificate operations

  • Configure the TLS/SSL certificate
  • Configure client certificates

Find certificate

Follow these steps:

  1. Run mmc.exe.
  2. File -> Add/Remove Snap-in…
  3. Select Certificates.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Choose the certificate store location.
  6. Click Finish.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Expand Certificates.
  9. Expand the certificate store node.
  10. Expand the Certificate child node.
  11. Select a certificate in the list.

Export certificate

In the Certificate Export Wizard:

  1. Click Next.
  2. Select Yes, then Export the private key.
  3. Click Next.
  4. Select the desired output file format.
  5. Check the desired options.
  6. Check Password.
  7. Enter a strong password and confirm it.
  8. Click Next.
  9. Type or browse a filename where to store the certificate (use a .PFX extension).
  10. Click Next.
  11. Click Finish.
  12. Click OK.

Import certificate

In the Certificate Import Wizard:

  1. Select the store location.

    • Select Current User if only processes running under current user will access the service
    • Select Local Machine if other processes in this computer will access the service
  2. Click Next.

  3. If importing from a file, confirm the file path.

  4. If importing a .PFX file:

    1. Enter the password protecting the private key
    2. Select import options
  5. Select "Place" certificates in the following store

  6. Click Browse.

  7. Select the desired store.

  8. Click Finish.

    • If the Trusted Root Certification Authority store was chosen, click Yes.
  9. Click OK on all dialog windows.

Upload certificate

In the Azure portal

  1. Select Cloud Services.
  2. Select the cloud service.
  3. On the top menu, click Certificates.
  4. On the bottom bar, click Upload.
  5. Select the certificate file.
  6. If it is a .PFX file, enter the password for the private key.
  7. Once completed, copy the certificate thumbprint from the new entry in the list.

Other security considerations

The TLS settings described in this document encrypt communication between the service and its clients when the HTTPS endpoint is used. This is important since credentials for database access and potentially other sensitive information are contained in the communication. Note, however, that the service persists internal status, including credentials, in its internal tables in the database in Azure SQL Database that you have provided for metadata storage in your Microsoft Azure subscription. That database was defined as part of the following setting in your service configuration file (.CSCFG file):

<Setting name="ElasticScaleMetadata" value="Server=…" />

Credentials stored in this database are encrypted. However, as a best practice, ensure that both web and worker roles of your service deployments are kept up to date and secure as they both have access to the metadata database and the certificate used for encryption and decryption of stored credentials.

Additional resources

Not using elastic database tools yet? Check out our Getting Started Guide. For questions, please reach out to us on the Microsoft Q&A question page for SQL Database and for feature requests, please add them to the SQL Database feedback forum.