There’s no such thing as a set-and-forget security configuration. You have to stay on top of your applications and databases to ensure that your policies are being enforced and that they’re still valid in the face of new vulnerabilities.

Enter Application Security’s AppDetective 5.0, a very powerful audit tool capable of performing both authenticated audit tests and brute-force attacks against your apps and databases. The solution accurately pinpoints any databases that need patches or that are misconfigured. Moreover, it empowers admins to create their own audit policies, making its application limitless.

Although mainly a client utility, AppDetective has an enterprise console that allows for role-based security. It is very easy to install and run, but some simple planning is necessary as it requires a database (either an MSDB installation or SQL Server) to act as the reporting repository.

AppDetective performs two types of standard tests: Pen (or Penetration) Tests and Audit Tests. You may also use the powerful Policy Editor to create your own.

The Pen Test examines your system from a hacker’s point of view. It doesn’t need any internal permissions; rather, the test queries the server and attempts to glean information about the database it’s running, such as its version. From there, it launches several brute-force attacks against your various database accounts.

One significant drawback to the Pen Test is that it relies heavily on a dictionary file. Not only is this approach inefficient; it can lead to false results. During testing, it was incapable of discovering new accounts with blank passwords.

The Audit Test is much more useful. It uses an authenticated connection to the server and queries the database itself for the information it needs. Using the Audit Test, AppDetective can detect any number of security violations on your server, from missing passwords and easily guessed user accounts to missing service packs and security patches.

AppDetective’s true power lies in its Policy Editor, which gives you the ability to create your own tests. Test criteria can be any SQL query you like, and you can assign a title, risk level, summary, fix information and many other elements.

AppDetective allows you to manage the vulnerabilities discovered during a scan. You can delete vulnerabilities and even filter them, allowing you to focus on a particular risk level.

AppDetective also keeps up with the latest patches. Moreover, Application Security tests to ensure that the fix is valid. If a fix exists, AppDetective can provide you a script to run.

AppDetective isn’t without its shortcomings.

The Audit Test, for example, lacks some base-level intelligence. In one of my authentication tests, it flagged a guest account in one of the databases as a security risk, failing to recognize that the account didn’t reside in the master database and was thus unusable to begin with.

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