Database security refers to the unique control measures companies take to protect the integrity and confidentiality of the information on their databases. It is a complex endeavor involving implementing the best information technology security tools, technologies, and best industry-approved practices. Only then can enterprises avert all forms of cyber-attacks which have the potential to threaten their businesses. In doing so, the companies also need to ensure their staff and trading partners with accessibility privileges can use the databases. The database security measures and policies the companies execute must safeguard:
- The sensitive and confidential information on their business databases,
- The database management operating system popularly known as DBMS,
- Other relevant business software applications and solutions.
- Both the physical and virtual database server, and
- The network infrastructure which the end-users need to access the business databases.
Why is taking measures for database security a necessity for companies?
Companies need to understand the consequences of any successful cyber-attack on their business databases can be devastating for them. It might result in data theft containing the corporate enterprises’ intellectual property rights, inventions and trade secrets. This can seriously compromise the companies’ competitive advantage in the market and lead to a significant revenue loss.
In many instances, the data breach can disrupt the continuity of their business operations for several months, incurring huge losses and, in some rare cases, complete bankruptcy. In these circumstances, many of the company’s trading partners will probably think twice before entering the commercial dealings with them again in the future. Even the companies’ loyal customers might be hesitant to buy their brand products even for reasonable prices and share their data with them.
Above all, the companies will be:
- Liable to penalties for not complying with the statutory regulations the governments enforce on them to protect their customers’ confidential data, and
- Have to notify their customers and stakeholders of the data breach and the steps they are taking to handle the crisis.
Typical cyber-security threats to the business databases
Experts from the esteemed company in database administration, RemoteDBA.com, says that the common cyber-security threats companies of all sizes face to their business database fall under the following categories:
Generally, discontent employees with resentment against the corporate enterprises perpetrate this cyber-attack. Almost all of them have access privileges to the companies’ business databases to:
- Exploit its software vulnerabilities or misconfiguration to launch potential data breaches, and
- Intentionally commit syntax or command errors to make the databases vulnerable to potential cyber-attacks.
In some instances, nefarious individuals unknown to the companies might commit cyber-attacks on the companies’ databases. In these insider threats, they launch phishing schemes to obtain companies’ confidential information or credentials of their stakeholders.
All companies grant database access privileges to their directors, top executives, managers, and certain employees. Often, these individuals unintentionally use weak passwords to obtain the information available on the business databases. Only then can they perform the tasks necessary to discharge their duties. Many of them even share this authorization access with others without thinking of the consequences. Eventually, cyber-criminals like hackers get hold of the passwords they use to commit data breaches, ransomware, or phishing attacks. This cyber-attacks can compromises the confidential business information which is on the companies’ databases.
Taking advantages of database software susceptibilities
Most cyber-criminals earn their livelihood by identifying and exploiting the vulnerabilities of open-source software applications other people use. The companies’ database management software programs to run their database operating systems are susceptible to this danger. The software service providers who offer these enterprises the software packages do perform security patches to address this issue; however, when the vendors do not perform these tasks regularly, it increases the exposure of the databases’ confidential information.
Exploiting buffer overflow limitations
Most database servers that companies install in their information technology servers consist of memory blocks. These hardware components generally hold a specific number of non-numeric, numeric, or alphanumeric characters. A buffer overflow attack occurs when criminals launch a process that attempts to insert excess data into a fixed-length memory block. They then use the extra data that the adjoining memory addresses to store to commit a cyber-attack. It might be in the form of a phishing attack, ransomware, data breach, spyware, or SQL injection.
This cyber-attack occurs when discontent employees or criminals insert a malicious query into the companies’ business database. They normally execute the query into the input field of the database. The user command causes the database server to malfunction and expose the confidential information available on the database. The cyber-criminals can then use the data for their nefarious activities or wipe it out completely.
Best security control measures
The best industry-approved control measures companies can implement to avert cyber-attacks to their business databases are as follows:
- Ensure the on-premises or cloud-based business database server is in a secure environment that is not accessible to everyone,
- Grant accessibility privileges to only a specific number of employees strictly according to job description and responsibilities in the organization
- Constantly monitor the activities of the employees accessing the confidential information on the databases and how they are using it in the company
- Encrypt all of the data within the business databases with difficult codes regardless of with it is confidential or not,
- Install the latest information technology (IT) security software application to the business database servers, and
- Store multiple backups of confidential information on the business databases and conduct regular security audits.
Therefore, in the above manner, control measures can be taken for database security. However, all companies are not the same. It is prudent to get a database health check done first to determine the loopholes in database security. In this way, a report can be generated, and security measures customized to meet the company’s unique needs are taken. DBAs should take the onus on ensuring that the right security measures are in place and regularly tested to avert cyberattacks.
Database Security image by frances reid on Flickr.