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Ensuring database security

Database administrators need to be aware of and monitor all the database security issues

Database breaches are an exponentially increasing threat. This is why we at OWDT consistently integrate leading-edge security into our websites and digital media platforms. For example, because database servers are the biggest target of security attacks, we carefully integrate safety measures into the design of all client physical and host server applications.

Security is also one of my personal passions. The International Journal of Computer Science and Network Security (IJCSNS) published my recent article on this subject last month (May 2015). I’m happy to take this opportunity to share some information about my findings for our readers. 

It’s easiest to understand risk prevention strategies by focusing on (1) database-specific attacks and (2) related security measures.

Database-specific attacks 

Excessive rights
This type of attack is most likely to occur when users or applications are issued privileges that exceed their required responsibilities/functions. For instance, an employee administrator who should be limited to “read only rights” can take advantage of excess rights to illegally change the salaries of employees. The solution? Restrict such rights only to essential data and scope of operations.

System vulnerabilities
Threats to and vulnerabilities within operating systems can result in unauthorized data access and file corruption. One of many examples–the Blaster Worm exploited Windows 2000 vulnerabilities to bring down targeted servers. Installing an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) system is a highly effective, standard technique for identifying and blocking such attacks.

Denial of service (DoS)
DoS can result from buffer overflows, corruption of data, the flowing of networks and/or excessive consumption of available resources. Measures to prevent DoS can be integrated into different layers of the network and its applications. Again, deploying IPS–in this case, combined with rate controls that prevent users from over consuming server resources can prevent the problem.

Insufficient Authentication.
Systems with insufficient authentication processes attract malicious attackers targeting the identities of legitimate database users Such attacks may incorporate social engineering and ‘force attack’ techniques. Enforcing complex, frequently updated passwords and two-step verification can significantly reduce such attacks. For easier use, authentication procedures should be integrated into user infrastructures.

Security measures 

Authentication
Authentication threats include password and the default account vulnerabilities. A standard countermeasure is to lock database accounts and then creating default password-protected accounts that expire once installed. This results in the elimination of default accounts with only a few remaining accounts retaining access. Because applications-specific accounts are not visible to database systems, administrators need to create a list of all default accounts to eliminate them.

Access controls
After users gain authentication, controls must be carefully defined to determine each user’s permissions and restrictions. Again, avoiding excess user as well as PUBLIC privileges is critical

Segregating role functions is similarly critical. For instance, tasks of the administrator and auditor tasks must be differentiated to avoid problems. The same principle applies to environments ranging from production to testing and development. This requires constant review to ensure that only authorized links are accessed. For this to work, administrators need to carry out an analysis of each link and its purpose to reduce escalation.

Conclusion
Database administrators need to be aware of and monitor all the database security issues under their pervue. They need to begin by doing a careful audit to limit specific access only to those individuals and apps that require it.

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