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Microsoft tightens database security

The software giant plans to announce Tuesday that its SQL Server 2005 database will include new encryption capabilities designed to make it more difficult for unauthorized users to access information.

Microsoft is making its newest database software tougher to crack.

The company plans to announce on Tuesday that its SQL Server 2005 database--developed under the code-name Yukon--will include new encryption capabilities to make it more difficult for hackers and other unauthorized users to access information.

Microsoft already offers tools to encrypt data sent over a network between SQL Server and client applications. The new release of SQL Server, due early next year, will encrypt data stored within the database, making it much more resistant to attacks, said Kirsten Ward, a product manager at Microsoft.

The software maker earlier this year delayed the release of SQL Server 2005 until the first half of next year. The release is designed to beef up the computing capabilities of the database to compete better with Oracle and IBM. It will also debut a new unified storage concept that will make it easier to find and retrieve data.

Oracle leads the overall market for database software on Windows and Unix systems, but Microsoft has been making strides in recent years by adding more advanced features to SQL Server.

Separately, Microsoft will make available software--called the Best Practices Analyzer Tool--that database administrators can use to fine-tune their databases using advice compiled by Microsoft. The tool works with the current SQL Server 2000 version of Microsoft's database software, and will present database administrators with tips on a variety of areas, such as how to improve performance and perform more efficient data backups.

In addition, the tool will include an "upgrade advisor" that will scan database programs and alert SQL Server 2000 users to changes needed to make programs work with the upcoming SQL Server 2005, Ward said.