Password Policy

SQL Server can use Windows password policy mechanisms. The password policy applies to a login that uses SQL Server authentication, and to a contained database user with password.

SQL Server can apply the same complexity and expiration policies used in Windows to passwords used inside SQL Server. This functionality depends on the NetValidatePasswordPolicy API.

Password Complexity

Password complexity policies are designed to deter brute force attacks by increasing the number of possible passwords. When password complexity policy is enforced, new passwords must meet the following guidelines:

  • The password does not contain the account name of the user.

  • The password is at least eight characters long.

  • The password contains characters from three of the following four categories:

    • Latin uppercase letters (A through Z)

    • Latin lowercase letters (a through z)

    • Base 10 digits (0 through 9)

    • Non-alphanumeric characters such as: exclamation point (!), dollar sign ($), number sign (#), or percent (%).

Passwords can be up to 128 characters long. You should use passwords that are as long and complex as possible.

Password Expiration

Password expiration policies are used to manage the lifespan of a password. When SQL Server enforces password expiration policy, users are reminded to change old passwords, and accounts that have expired passwords are disabled.

Policy Enforcement

The enforcement of password policy can be configured separately for each SQL Server login. Use ALTER LOGIN (Transact-SQL) to configure the password policy options of a SQL Server login. The following rules apply to the configuration of password policy enforcement:

  • When CHECK_POLICY is changed to ON, the following behaviors occur:

    • CHECK_EXPIRATION is also set to ON unless it is explicitly set to OFF.

    • The password history is initialized with the value of the current password hash.

    • Account lockout duration, account lockout threshold, and reset account lockout counter after are also enabled.

  • When CHECK_POLICY is changed to OFF, the following behaviors occur:

    • CHECK_EXPIRATION is also set to OFF.

    • The password history is cleared.

    • The value of lockout_time is reset.

Some combinations of policy options are not supported.

  • If MUST_CHANGE is specified, CHECK_EXPIRATION and CHECK_POLICY must be set to ON. Otherwise, the statement will fail.

  • If CHECK_POLICY is set to OFF, CHECK_EXPIRATION cannot be set to ON. An ALTER LOGIN statement that has this combination of options will fail.

Setting CHECK_POLICY = ON will prevent the creation of passwords that are:

  • Null or empty

  • Same as name of computer or login

  • Any of the following: "password", "admin", "administrator", "sa", "sysadmin"

The security policy might be set in Windows, or might be received from the domain. To view the password policy on the computer, use the Local Security Policy MMC snap-in (secpol.msc).





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