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Challenges of database security

What is security for databases?

A variety of controls, methods, and processes are used to maintain and protect the confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility of databases. Because confidentiality is one of the aspects of data security that is most at danger, this lesson will focus on it.

The following elements need to be covered and protected by database security:

  • The data storage system.
  • Database management systems (DBMS), including all related applications.
  • Real or virtual database servers, as well as the supporting gear.
  • The network or computational infrastructure that is utilized to access the database.

A wide range of techniques are used in database security to protect database management systems against hostile cyber attacks and unauthorized use. Database security systems are created to safeguard against exploitation, damage, and infiltration not just the data contained inside the database but also the data management system as a whole and any application that utilizes it. Tools, procedures, and approaches that create security inside a database environment are all included in database security.

Database security is a difficult endeavor that needs the use of all security methods and technology. This directly conflicts with databases' open access. We are more vulnerable to security problems the more useable and accessible the database is. Accessing and using it becomes more challenging the more vulnerable it is to threats and assaults.

Robust data security measures, when executed correctly, guard against insider threats and human mistake, which continue to be among the primary causes of data breaches in the modern day, while also safeguarding an organization's information assets from cybercriminal activity. Using tools and technology that improve the organization's visibility into where its crucial data is located and how it is utilized is a key component of data security. In a perfect world, these technologies would be able to automate reporting, apply safeguards like encryption, data masking, and redaction of sensitive information, and apply protections like encryption, data masking, and compliance with regulatory standards.

Why is Security of Databases Important?

A database's data integrity being violated is referred to as a data breach, according to the definition. The extent of harm a data breach or other event can do to our company depends on a number of outcomes or factors.

  • Compromise of intellectual property: Our capacity to sustain a competitive edge in our business may depend on our intellectual property, including trade secrets, innovations, and proprietary procedures. It could be challenging to maintain or regain our competitive edge if our intellectual property has been stolen or revealed.
  • If customers or partners don't feel confident in our company's ability to secure their data or their own, they may decide not to interact with us or buy from us (or get our services).
  • The idea of company continuity, or the absence thereof: Some companies are unable to operate until a breach has been fixed.
  • Fines or penalties that must be paid for failure to comply: The cost of not adhering to national privacy laws like the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), industry-specific privacy laws like HIPAA, or international regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SAO) or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) could be a significant issue with fines in the worst cases.
  • Expenses associated with fixing breaches and informing customers about them the organization that has been breached is expected to pay for the investigation and forensic services, including crisis management, triage repairs to the impacted systems, and much more, in addition to informing consumers of the breach.

It is Possible to Use Database Software Vulnerabilities

Hackers make money by locating and taking advantage of weaknesses in software, such as database management systems. To address these flaws, the top database software providers and open-source database management systems regularly provide security updates. Yet, delaying applying the updates might make it more likely to be hacked.

Backups being attacked

Cyber attacks on backups are a possibility for businesses that do not use the same strict procedures to secure databases as they use to protect databases themselves.

The following elements heighten the dangers:

  • Data volumes are increasing: In nearly all companies, the amount of data being captured, stored, and processed is expanding dramatically. Any tools or techniques must be extremely adaptable to satisfy both immediate and future demands.
  • Infrastructure is dispersed widely: As businesses move their workloads to different clouds and hybrid cloud architectures, network environments are growing more complex, which makes it more challenging to choose, implement, manage, and administer security solutions.
  • Stricter standards for regulatory compliance: The complexity of the global regulatory compliance environment keeps rising. This makes it harder to comply with every mandate.

Business Obstacles

Every facet of how organizations today operate and compete is being radically changed by digital transformation. Enterprises are producing, storing, and manipulating an ever-increasing amount of data, which increases the need for data governance. Computing environments are also more sophisticated than they used to be, frequently encompassing the public cloud, the business data centre, and a variety of edge devices, including robots, remote servers, and Internet of Things (IOT) sensors. The increased attack surface that results from this complexity makes it harder to secure and monitor.

Data's commercial worth has never been higher than it is right now. Intellectual property (IP) loss can have an effect on future developments and profitability. Consumers place a greater emphasis on reliability because 75% of them say they won't buy from businesses they don't believe would secure their data.

Your organization's threat landscape also grows as its data footprint spreads across more partners, endpoints, and environments. Information that is sensitive and valuable is at danger from cybercriminals looking to exploit security flaws. A zero trust approach to security is centered on confidently securing your data, which serves as a crucial basis for any corporate function. Whether deployed on-premises or in a hybrid cloud, data security solutions provide you better access and analytics to identify and address cyber threats, enact real-time controls, and oversee regulatory compliance.


  • Rapidly identify flaws in data security: Are the locations and users of your essential data known to your security team? Automating visibility, managing access controls, and putting in place constant monitoring to find vulnerabilities and dangers before they become breaches are the important stages in securing sensitive data.
  • Protect your data to avoid a disastrous leak: Support a zero trust approach to data management with an integrated portfolio of features that can close cyber security holes in on-premises or hybrid cloud deployments, including automatically made and securely isolated data copies.
  • Aid in making regulatory compliance simpler: Maintaining reporting might be a challenge for your team on top of dealing with the increasing number of privacy laws. Use automation, analytics, and activity monitoring to streamline the process.

Risks to Database Security

Breaches might be caused by a variety of software flaws, incorrect setups, or habits of abuse or negligence. Below are some of the most well-known root causes and cyber threat subtypes for database security.

Internal Threats

  • A security risk from one of the three sources listed below, each of which has privileged access to the database, is an insider threat:
  • an insider with bad intentions
  • A reckless employee of the company who exposes the database to assault by acting irresponsibly
  • An outsider who accesses the database's credentials or acquires credentials via social engineering or other techniques

One of the most frequent reasons for database security breaches is an insider threat, which frequently happens when several workers have been given access to privileged accounts.

Human Error

About half of reported data breaches still include weak passwords, password sharing, unintentional data deletion or corruption, and other unwelcome human activities as their root cause.

Using database software vulnerabilities for profit

Attackers work tirelessly to identify and take advantage of software flaws, and database management software is one of their most prized targets. Every day, new security flaws are found and all open source database management systems and commercial database software providers constantly provide security updates. Your database might be vulnerable to assault, though, if you don't apply these updates right away.

Attacks Using SQL/NoSQL Injection

The injection of false SQL and other non-SQL string assaults into requests for databases given through web-based apps and HTTP headers is a particular danger to databases. Organizations that do not regularly conduct vulnerability testing and adhere to safe coding principles for online applications are vulnerable to assaults.

Buffers can be exploited by buffer overflow

Buffer overflow occurs when a computer attempts to transfer more data into a memory block than the block can hold. The extra information kept at nearby memory addresses may be used by the attackers as a starting point for their attacks.

Attacks via DDoS (DoS/DDoS)

In a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, the attacker floods the targeted server, in this example the database server, with so many requests that the server is unable to handle requests from genuine users that are no longer valid. The server is typically unreliable or even unresponsive.

Useful Database Security Techniques

As databases are often accessed across a network, they are at danger from any security breach affecting any portion of the infrastructure or component. Likewise, the database may be in danger from any security breach that affects a workstation or device. As a result, database security has to extend beyond the database's capabilities.

  • Look at each of these categories while assessing the security of databases at work to establish the highest priority for our business.
  • Physical security: The database servers should be located in a safe, regulated environment, whether they are on-site or in a cloud data centre. (If our database server is housed in a cloud data centre, the cloud service provider will take care of security on our behalf.)
  • Network access and administrative limitations: Users that need to have access to the database should only be given the minimal amount of access privileges necessary to complete their duties. Also, only those with the very minimal permissions are permitted access to the network.
  • End user account or device security: Recognize who has access to the database and when and how information is used. Data monitoring solutions can alert you to unusual or potentially harmful data-related actions. The network that hosts the database must be physically protected (under the sole control of the right person) and subject to daily security checks for each device that connects to it.
  • Security: Whether in storage or transit, ALL data, including data saved in databases and credential information, should be protected using the strongest level of encryption. Use of all encryption keys must adhere to the best practices recommendations.
  • Software security for databases: To manage databases, always use the most recent version of our software, and install any patches as soon as they are made available.
  • Security for websites and web server applications: Every website or web server that connects to the database may be a target, thus it is important to regularly test for security flaws and monitor best practices.
  • Security of backups: The database itself should have the same (or similarly stringent) security measures applied to any backups, images, or copies of the database.
  • Auditing: Every few months, security requirements for databases should be audited. Keep track of every server login as well as the operating system. Keep a record of all activities performed on sensitive data as well.

Platforms and tools for data protection

Nowadays, a wide range of businesses offer tools and platforms for data protection. All of the following characteristics should be included in a comprehensive solution:

  • Discovery: To satisfy criteria for regulatory compliance, the capacity for discovery is frequently required. Seek for a solution that can identify and classify vulnerabilities across all of our databases, whether they are housed on-premises or in the cloud. Moreover, it will offer suggestions for resolving any found vulnerabilities.
  • Monitoring of Data Activity: Regardless of whether our application is running on-premises, in the cloud, or within a container, the solution should be able to track and analyze all data activity across all databases. It will immediately notify us of any unusual behavior so we can react to threats more rapidly. Via a comprehensive and integrated user interface, it also gives visibility into the status of our information. It is crucial to pick a system that upholds the laws that control policies, practices, and the division of labor. Be certain that the solution we choose can provide the reports we need to meet the rules.
  • Data Tokenization and Encryption: In the event of an incident, encryption acts as an extra layer of defense against any breach. We must be able to safeguard data in cloud, on-premises hybrid, or multi-cloud scenarios using the software we chose. Locate a tool that complies with our company's rules and has tools for volume, file, and application encryption. Tokenization (data concealment) or sophisticated key management of security keys may be necessary for this.
  • Data security and risk analysis optimization: Users can easily do optimizing, risk analysis, and reporting using an application that combines security data with powerful analytics to deliver contextual insights. Choose a solution that can save and aggregate a significant quantity of current and past information regarding the security and condition of your databases. Choose a system that offers robust yet user-friendly self-service dashboards that enable data auditing, reporting, and investigation.

Research activities need to take into account the following challenges, such as data quality, intellectual property rights, and database survival, given the significant growth in the volume and speed of threats to databases and numerous information assets.

Let's go through each one individually:

Data integrity

To evaluate and attest to the quality of data, the database community primarily requires methodologies and a few organizational solutions. These methods might include a straightforward system like quality stamps that are published on many websites. Moreover, we require methods that will provide us more powerful integrity semantics verification tools for evaluating the data quality using a variety of methods, including record linkage. Moreover, we want application-level recovery strategies to automatically fix the flawed data.

These problems are currently being dealt with by the commonly used ETL tools, which stand for extract, transform, and load.

Intellectual property rights

As the usage of intranets and the Internet grows daily, legal and informational concerns over data are becoming serious issues for many enterprises. To solve these issues, watermarking techniques are employed to safeguard content against unlawful replication and dissemination by endowing the content's owner with the ability to prove ownership.

They often rely on the existence of a sizable domain where the items can be changed while keeping their fundamental or significant qualities. The robustness of many such strategies, as well as the study and investigation of several other approaches or methodologies that attempted to prevent the violation of intellectual property rights, requires more research.

Database resilience

Database systems must continue to function even with their capabilities decreased, in the face of disruptive events like information warfare strikes. A DBMS should be capable of the following in addition to making every attempt to thwart attacks and identifying them when they do occur:

  • Confident: We should act right away to block the attacker's access to the system and to contain or isolate the issue in order to stop it from spreading.
  • Damage assessment: Identify the scope of the issue, including data corruption and failed functionality.
  • Recover: To restore a normal level of functioning, recover corrupted or lost data and repair or reinstall failing functions.
  • Reconfiguration: Make necessary changes to enable operation to run in a weakened state while recovery is being done.
  • Treatment for the flaw: To the greatest degree feasible, pinpoint the attack's vulnerability and take precautions to stop it from happening again.

The best way to implement database security

Database security is divided into three levels: database level, access level, and perimeter level. The database itself, where the data are stored, is where security at the database level takes place. Controlling who has access to particular data or systems holding it is the main goal of access layer security. Who is allowed and not allowed access to databases is determined by security policy at the perimeter level. Every level needs a different set of security measures.

Security for physical databases

It's crucial to not ignore the actual hardware used to store, manage, and alter data. Whether the database server is on-site or accessible through the cloud, physical protection involves securing the room where it is located. Security personnel must also keep an eye on who physically has access to the equipment.

Having database backup and disaster recovery plans in place in the event of a physical disaster is an essential component of this best practice. Also, it's crucial to avoid hosting web servers, apps, and the database the firm wishes to safeguard on the same server. Data should be "encrypted at rest," as it is described further down, to ensure its security even if a system's physical storage is lost or corrupted.

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