Tips for Enhancing Database Security

August 26, 2022

Database systems are essential to any business. Securing your database protects your data against intentional or accidental threats, keeps sensitive information safe and prevents data loss.

Database security protects the confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA) of an organization’s databases.

Here are a few tips to secure your databases:

  1. Database Security Assessment: Database Security Assessment is the first step toward securing your databases from attackers, unauthorized access, data corruption and loss of data. It is a process by which you can measure the database risk based on known vulnerabilities and attack scenarios. By doing a database security assessment, your security managers and database administrators can now know which databases and which specific vulnerabilities need their attention first. 
  2. Database Access Control: Set your access control policies to allow database access only to authorized users and restrict unauthorized users.  Further, you should ensure that those who have access only have the privileges needed to do their jobs. Excessive permissions or privileges for any users should be revoked.
  3. Database Authentication: Database Authentication verifies the identity of someone who wants to access data, resources or applications. You can establish authentication by different methods such as Password-based authentication, Certificate-based authentication, Token-based authentication, dual authentication etc.
  4. Database Patching: Database vendors regularly release critical patch updates to address software bugs or known vulnerabilities. But for a variety of reasons, many organizations often delay installing them, or simply do not install them at all. So, the systems which are remaining unpatched are, therefore, highly vulnerable to attack. It is a good practice is to keep your databases as well as systems up to date by applying patches on regular basis. This not only helps in better security but enhances the performance as well.
  5. Database Auditing: Database auditing is a continuous process of monitoring and recording a user’s database activities. Audits are used to investigate suspicious activities performed on the database. Auditing can be done using DBMS traces or by enabling audit trails. You can maintain the audited records in log files or table objects. Auditing can be enabled at different levels like OS, database, statement, privilege, schema object level, etc. Fine-grained auditing is used for deep auditing.
  6. Data Encryption: Data encryption helps you to protect your sensitive data either on system or over a network. There are mainly two types of Data encryption available Symmetric and Asymmetric. Symmetric encryption uses a single key that is shared among the recipients of the message. Asymmetric encryption uses a public key and a private key pair to encrypt and decrypt the messages. In Database security, generally Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) is used to encrypt sensitive data. TDE provides advanced encryption capabilities for protecting sensitive information without needing to make any changes at the application level.
  7. Encrypted Data Backups: It’s essential to create backups for your database regularly, this mitigates the risk of losing sensitive information due to malicious attacks or data corruption. But, a backup copy of data itself can be a source of leaks. So, backups of confidential data should be in an encrypted format.
  8. Data Masking: Data masking is a technique by which you make a copy of the data that looks structurally similar to the original but hides (masks) the actual information.

The main objective of masking data is to create a functional substitute for the application users. Here are a few masking techniques that you may evaluate-

  • Encryption: Encryption uses an algorithm to encrypt sensitive data. Encrypted data can be visible to those with an appropriate key to decrypt the data.
  • Nulling Out: You can simply delete a column of data and replace it with NULL values. This is an effective method used especially in test environments.
  • Substitution: This technique randomly replaces the data contents with something that looks similar but is completely unrelated to the real details.
  • Shuffling: Shuffling is similar to substitution except that the substitution data is derived from the column itself. So in this case, the actual data may be visible to a sharp coder or to an AI system.
  • Number & Date Variance: In this method, an algorithm modifies each number or date value by some random percentage of its real value. This technique is useful for numeric or date data. 

I hope these tips help you to fortify your databases so that you are a little lesser vulnerable. Please keep in mind that for every lock, there is a specialist thief. So the more locks you have, the chances of safety are higher for you! 

And you may do well to keep changing and shuffling your locks periodically!

Let’s build something amazing together