The Best Practices in Planning Database Security

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As the enterprise data volume grows indefinitely, we tend to adopt many new methods to store and process the same, including cloud applications and high-performance data analytics platforms. With these changes, database security is also becoming a major concern than ever before. As per IDC reports, the data volume across the globe may increase by about 10 times to a total of around 163 zettabytes by the year 2025. Most of these data will be created and used by business enterprises.

Databases are considered the treasure trove by enterprises, consisting of both corporate data and sensitive personal information of the consumers. So, as a result, these enterprise databases are the prime target of cybercriminals too, who use various tactics from sophisticated malware to social engineering by targeting the compromised database endpoints or by exploiting the user credentials to get access to these databases. Ensure that you have the best antivirus software in place to tackle this. In case you are unaware about this, get professional help to protect your business and data.

In addition to growing data volume, the database administrators are also challenged to manage the highly complicated database infrastructures. With the growth and adoption of cloud-based databases like AWS by Amazon or RDS (Relational Database Services), among others, the DBAs are now tied up with managing various types of database stores and various DBMS systems. Adding to it, the fast-changing rules and regulations regarding data privacy and security are also making things complicated for the database admins. So, all in all, the DBAs role now becomes much more complex and important in all aspects.

Despite the need for digital enterprise data management, in most organizations, database security is now considered lesser than just the perimeter defense. While the organizations try to reinforce their network perimeters with general security measures like firewalls, they tend to neglect the need for data vault security. To minimize the risk of data breach or loss and be compliant with the changing data-management regulations, modern-day organizations must try to implement a much comprehensive and advanced database security plan. Doing this well will also help establish a proper operational methodology for all involved as people at various levels, the technology used, and the processes followed.

Best Practices to Establish and Improve Database Security

Next, let us discuss some best practices, as suggested by RemoteDBA, to establish and improve your database security.

Run A Baseline Database-Related Risk Assessment

It is essential to know the current status of something to try and improve it. So, you have first to explore the current state of database operations, for which you have to conduct a risk assessment and database inventory. There is nothing wrong with getting the assistance of an external auditor to run the same if you do not have internal expertise.

Along with establishing a baseline to measure the results against it, conduction of an audit will also help the DBAs find the abandoned or rough databases that may have sensitive information and discover the overprivileged or insufficiently secured accounts which could pose a threat. A fundamental assessment of the database includes:

  • Policy analysis and management
  • Vulnerability check and management, and
  • Access management.

On identifying and fixing the same issues, the DBAs also retest the same and document the remediation steps and progress.

Establish Well-Set Policies for Security and Compliance

Without clearly delineated standards and policies, enterprises may find it difficult to assess and ensure compliance or measure progress against set benchmarks. It is common that organizations make solid security policies for databases at various levels but frequently do not map such policies back to the databases well.

Once the security vulnerabilities are remediated, it is usually considered a response to an adverse incident rather than a proactive action by sticking to the compliance policies. The businesses must review their policies each time after patching vulnerabilities or installing a new or newer software version to ensure updated settings and configurations. While bringing forth new standards and policies, the security team must be sure that they address the need for policy updates, assigning responsibilities, what all instances should trigger a policy change, and how the approval for the policy change is done.

Identifying the Overprivileged Users

Many of the organizations still do not have a complete understanding of access management to sensitive databases. Some user accounts which are left with more than needed privileges are targeted by the hackers to gain unauthorized access to the data systems. Every organization should review its user entitlements against the given structure to identify who has access to what and how and why they achieved those rights. A solid plan for database security should insist on frequent reviews of the administrative and user access privileges to ensure that all database users are given only minimum appropriate privileges to execute their work effectively.

Conduct Configuration and Vulnerability Assessments

To ensure that you have safe and effective cybersecurity engineer for databases, the IT auditors must follow the practice of ongoing assessment of the same through configuration and vulnerability audits at intervals. This is done with the use of special credentials that are configured to access database instances and to gather information for completion of the audit. Such audits will provide actionable insights into potential vulnerabilities and configuration elements, making your enterprise database susceptible to attacks.

These audits will also help determine the noncompliance with the government regulations and violations of the company data security policy. Regardless of the nature of your business and mode of database operations, a reliable approach is that of CDM (Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation) introduced by DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to ensure compliance with database vulnerability best practices.

Along with these mandatory measures, you also should implement real-time database monitoring, which will help you keep a close track of your databases’ performance and risk. Remember that database security is not a one-time process to establish, but it is an ongoing practice that you need to revisit and refresh from time to time.

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