Server Side Aliases

November 16, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Over the years i have come across a few situations where server side connections to SQL server fail when you use a DNS alias that points back to the server your initiating the connection from but you can connect remotely.

Its an annoying problem which has a very unhelpful error message that changed in different versions of SQL. In SQL 2000 you are presented with

"Login failed for user ‘(null)’. Reason: Not associated with a trusted SQL Server connection."  and in SQL 2005 + SQL 2008 its “Login failed. The login is from an untrusted domain and cannot be used with Windows authentication”.

You will also see eventid 537 in the security logs

One of the most common reasons a system is setup with an alias pointing back on itself is because a consolidation has taken place and you don’t want to change the connection strings. However some people simply got burnt when Microsoft first released the security patch which introduced this change and i still find people being burnt today.

Cause

NTLM reflection protection was introduced as part of security fix MS08-068. This causes a local authentication failure when using a dns alias which bubbles up and becomes the error described above.

Relevant MS Articles are MS08-068 & http://support.microsoft.com/kb/926642 and cause extract is:

This problem occurs because of the way that NT LAN Manager (NTLM) treats different naming conventions as remote entities instead of as local entities. A local authentication failure might occur when the client calculates and caches the correct response to the NTLM challenge that is sent by the server in local "lsass" memory before the response is sent back to the server. When the server code for NTLM finds the received response in the local "lsass" cache, the code does not honour the authentication request and treats it as a replay attack. This behaviour leads to a local authentication failure.

Solution

You either need to use the local name rather than DNS alias or there are steps described in the resolutions section of the articles to disable the protection totally or for a specific alias.

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