With the proliferation of interconnected applications sharing data across intranets and the Internet, security has become more crucial than ever to organizations of all types. In fact, security may be the most important aspect of any SQL Server professional's job. But it doesn't have to be the most time-consuming or difficult. The following winning products help make databases and their applications more secure.

Best Content-Filtering Device. Application data traffic is susceptible to unauthorized access or tampering and thus poses serious information privacy and quality risks. HiT Software's SafeConduct helps you remove these risks by protecting application-data access without affecting existing applications. SafeConduct uses the latest SSL encryption and offers node-to-node authentication and an audit tool for data analysis.

Best Security-Auditing Software. Readers called Lumigent's Entegra "by far the best" in the security-auditing field. Entegra provides a complete record of access and modifications to data, database structures, and permissions. Entegra archives the audit data in structured repositories for ease of analysis and reporting, giving you insight into how users work with your data assets.

Best Security Scanner. GFI LANguard Network Security Scanner (NSS) can scan entire networks for security vulnerabilities such as missing security patches, old service packs, open shares, open ports, and unused user accounts. With this information, which LANguard NSS displays in customizable reports, you can lock down your networks against intruders. LANguard NSS also lets you remotely deploy missing patches and service packs in applications such as SQL Server and the OS. Readers noted the low starting price ($315 for 25 IPs) as a big plus.

Best Security Products
Best Content-Filtering Device
HiT Software, SafeConduct
408-345-4001,
http://www.hitsw.com
Price: Starts at $1495
Best Security-Auditing Software
Lumigent Technologies, Entegra
866-586-4436, 978-206-3700
http://www.lumigent.com
Price: Starts at $10,000 for base system, $5000 per server
Best Security Scanner
GFI, LANguard Network Security Scanner (NSS)
888-243-4329, 919-379-3397,
http://www.gfi.com
Price: Starts at $315 for 25 IPs