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Database Security

What is Database Security?

Database security include a range of tools, processes, and methodologies designed to protect database management systems from cyberattacks. Database security programs protect the data within the database, as well as the data management system and all applications that access it, from unauthorized access, intrusion, misuse, and damage. The following are database security threats that can be mitigated through database security programs1:

Permission abuse. When workers are granted default database permissions that are not required to do the functions of their job, those permissions can be abused. As well, failing to update access permissions when employees leave the organization or change positions create more opportunities for abuse.

Human error. The root cause of many data breach incidents is human negligence. This can often be attributed to a lack of expertise in security control implementation, policy enforcement, and incident response procedures.

Database injection attacks. SQL injections and NoSQL injections are types of database attacks that target traditional and “big data” platforms, respectively. These attacks operate by bypassing data entry controls of web applications in order to establish comments on the database engine that expose data and its underlying structures.

Denial of Service (DoS/DDoS) attacks. Cyberattackers can overwhelm database servers using a volume of fake traffic, possibly via botnets, making it difficult or impossible to carry legitimate requests from legitimate users.

Malware. Malware is software that is designed to exploit any database vulnerabilities. Malware can come in through any endpoint device on a network.

Storage media exposure. Backup storage is often unprotected from cyberattacks, making them vulnerable to theft and compromise.

Unmanaged databases. Many organizations struggle to maintain an accurate inventory of databases and sensitive data within them. If databases are forgotten and not updated with security controls, the databases can be vulnerable to compromise.

Database misconfigurations. Databases may be vulnerable to cyberattacks due to misconfigurations or reliance on default configurations.

Credential threats. Weak passwords and poor authentication protocols make it easier for cyberattackers to assume the identities of authorized database users.

Weak audit trails. Databases that are not audited appropriately may be at risk of data breaches and non-compliance risks.

Database software vulnerabilities. Cyberattackers target known vulnerabilities in database management software and are always looking for new vulnerabilities in order to launch zero-day attacks.

1 Maurer, 2015, “Top Database Security Threats and How to Mitigate Them”