Vulnerability Note VU#635463

Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE) ship with a null default password

Original Release date: 27 Nov 2001 | Last revised: 20 Jun 2002


Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Data Engine ship with a null default password on the administrative account sa. If the system administrator does not set the password, the system may be vulnerable to attack.


Microsoft SQL Server (MS SQL) and Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE) ship without a default password on the administrative account sa, permitting unauthorized access via port 1433 TCP/UDP. As long as the server has a null password, gaining access to the sa account is trivial. While it may not be enabled under a default configuration, MSDE ships as a component of several applications such as Microsoft Office 2000 and Tumbleweed's Secure Mail (MMS). Tumbleweed's Secure Mail (MMS) Releases 4.3, 4.5, and 4.6 all ship with MSDE enabled and are vulnerable under the default configuration. A patch has been released to address this vulnerability on these versions of MMS and incorporated into the release of 4.7.

If the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSSQLServer\MSSQLServer is defined, then you have MS SQL Server or MSDE installed. You should check to see if the sa account exists and ensure that a password is set. Instructions to change the password are located at en-us/modadmin/html/deconchangingsqlserveradministratorlogin.asp en-us/adminsql/ad_1_server_5un8.asp

An NT administrator has the option to install MS SQL or MSDE with integrated security or in mixed mode. If you select integrated security you are not vulnerable; however, when mixed mode is chosen, the sa account is created without a password. For more information about this selection and how to change the password in mixed mode, please see en/access/AboutEnablingMixedModeSecurityInAnAc.htm

It should be noted that when installing Microsoft SQL Server 2000 (formerly MSDE), the application prompts for an sa password. If a blank password is entered, Microsoft SQL Server 2000 will display a warning but permit a blank password.

The CERT/CC is interested in receiving reports related to the "Kaiten" or "SQL Worm Spida" activity. If machines under your administrative control are compromised, please send mail to with the following text included in the subject line: "[CERT#38873]".


Through the use of various procedures such as xp_cmdshell(), an attacker can execute arbitrary commands on the system with whatever user privileges the Microsoft SQL services are running under. This is typically a user with "NT Authority\System".


Set a password for your SQL Server on the sa adminitration account.

Following best practices, passwords should never be left at their default value. Ensure that a password has been assigned to the sa account on MS-SQL servers under your control.

Systems Affected (Learn More)

VendorStatusDate NotifiedDate Updated
Microsoft CorporationAffected26 Nov 200127 Nov 2001
TumbleweedAffected-27 Nov 2001
If you are a vendor and your product is affected, let us know.

CVSS Metrics (Learn More)

Group Score Vector
Base N/A N/A
Temporal N/A N/A
Environmental N/A N/A



This document was written by Jason Rafail.

Other Information

  • CVE IDs: Unknown
  • Date Public: 10 Aug 2000
  • Date First Published: 27 Nov 2001
  • Date Last Updated: 20 Jun 2002
  • Severity Metric: 33.75
  • Document Revision: 30


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