Using Encryption Without Validation

THIS TOPIC APPLIES TO: yesSQL ServeryesAzure SQL DatabaseyesAzure SQL Data Warehouse yesParallel Data Warehouse

SQL Server always encrypts network packets associated with logging in. If no certificate has been provisioned on the server when it starts up, SQL Server generates a self-signed certificate which is used to encrypt login packets.

Self-signed certificates do not guarantee security. The encrypted handshake is based on NT LAN Manager (NTLM). It is highly recommended that you provision a verifiable certificate on SQL Server for secure connectivity. Transport Security Layer (TLS) can be made secure only with certificate validation.

Applications may also request encryption of all network traffic by using connection string keywords or connection properties. The keywords are "Encrypt" for ODBC and OLE DB when using a provider string with IDbInitialize::Initialize, or "Use Encryption for Data" for ADO and OLE DB when using an initialization string with IDataInitialize. This may also be configured by SQL Server Configuration Manager using the Force Protocol Encryption option, and by configuring the client to request encrypted connections. By default, encryption of all network traffic for a connection requires that a certificate be provisioned on the server. By setting your client to trust the certificate on the server, you might become vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. If you deploy a verifiable certificate on the server, ensure that you change the client settings about trust the certificate to FALSE.

For information about connection string keywords, see Using Connection String Keywords with SQL Server Native Client.

To enable encryption to be used when a certificate has not been provisioned on the server, SQL Server Configuration Manager can be used to set both the Force Protocol Encryption and the Trust Server Certificate options. In this case, encryption will use a self-signed server certificate without validation if no verifiable certificate has been provisioned on the server.

Applications may also use the "TrustServerCertificate" keyword or its associated connection attribute to guarantee that encryption takes place. Application settings never reduce the level of security set by SQL Server Client Configuration Manager, but may strengthen it. For example, if Force Protocol Encryption is not set for the client, an application may request encryption itself. To guarantee encryption even when a server certificate has not been provisioned, an application may request encryption and "TrustServerCertificate". However, if "TrustServerCertificate" is not enabled in the client configuration, a provisioned server certificate is still required. The following table describes all cases:

Force Protocol Encryption client setting Trust Server Certificate client setting Connection string/connection attribute Encrypt/Use Encryption for Data Connection string/connection attribute Trust Server Certificate Result
No N/A No (default) Ignored No encryption occurs.
No N/A Yes No (default) Encryption occurs only if there is a verifiable server certificate, otherwise the connection attempt fails.
No N/A Yes Yes Encryption always occurs, but may use a self-signed server certificate.
Yes No Ignored Ignored Encryption occurs only if there is a verifiable server certificate, otherwise the connection attempt fails.
Yes Yes No (default) Ignored Encryption always occurs, but may use a self-signed server certificate.
Yes Yes Yes No (default) Encryption occurs only if there is a verifiable server certificate, otherwise the connection attempt fails.
Yes Yes Yes Yes Encryption always occurs, but might use a self-signed server certificate.

Caution

The preceding table only provides a guide on the system behavior under different configurations. For secure connectivity, ensure that the client and server both require encryption. Also ensure that the server has a verifiable certificate, and that the TrustServerCertificate setting on the client is set to FALSE.

SQL Server Native Client OLE DB Provider

The SQL Server Native Client OLE DB provider supports encryption without validation through the addition of the SSPROP_INIT_TRUST_SERVER_CERTIFICATE data source initialization property, which is implemented in the DBPROPSET_SQLSERVERDBINIT property set. In addition, a new connection string keyword, "TrustServerCertificate", as been added. It accepts yes or no values; no is the default. When using service components, it accepts true or false values; false is the default.

For more information about enhancements made to the DBPROPSET_SQLSERVERDBINIT property set, see Initialization and Authorization Properties.

SQL Server Native Client ODBC Driver

The SQL Server Native Client ODBC driver supports encryption without validation through additions to the SQLSetConnectAttr and SQLGetConnectAttr functions. SQL_COPT_SS_TRUST_SERVER_CERTIFICATE has been added to accept either SQL_TRUST_SERVER_CERTIFICATE_YES or SQL_TRUST_SERVER_CERTIFICATE_NO, with SQL_TRUST_SERVER_CERTIFICATE_NO being the default. In addition, a new connection string keyword, "TrustServerCertificate", has been added. It accepts yes or no values; "no" is the default.

See Also

SQL Server Native Client Features