A Guide to Database Security Threats and its Countermeasures

This is the age of information, and of course, it is a critical asset. Today, organizations create so much data and information, and database systems are used to handle the information within them to computerize various functions. Since information is vital, it is important to protect it from any damage, stealth, or modification.

The goal of DBMS (Database management System) is to provide information security. And, this piece of writing involves all database security threats and its countermeasure, and database security in web applications.

For fast and effective management of vast amounts of data, there is a need to build an organized system. Not only manage but safe and secure and storage and retrieval of the data.

Typically, a database system is used and managed by many users at once for the specific data collection. Databases are categorized based on their collection type, such as images, numeric, bibliographic, or full-text. MS SQL, Oracle, Sybase have commonly used servers in the agencies, companies, institutions for their different functions of the assets.

Internetworking technology provides productive efficiency to the assets, but on the other hand, it gives chances to hackers or cybercriminals to make profits. So, database security becomes the most significant issue. The sensitive data needs to be protected from all unauthorized exposure, modification, and destruction is the main motive of the database security process.

  • Importance of Database Security

In this age of information technology, all types of institutions/companies must avail their information assets online through databases. However, there should be policies to divide the user levels granting access to information to some extent only. It is essential to block the chances of unwanted acts of the intruders.

Databases contain personal information, credit card numbers, financial data and business transactions, etc. The information tends to be sensitive and highly confidential; thus, it should be protected by the rivals, competitors, and unauthorized persons.

The database system cannot work alone, and hence, it needs to depend on many other systems. Database security is an arrangement of many associated systems that are correlated. The database security system works in four basic layers.

And, these functioning systems are the systems on which the database system operates. Normally, a firewall is applied to barricade any interruption from the external network.

Here is the database architecture of an enterprise:

  1. Operating system layer

One important characteristic of database administration is the operating system. Some main features of the database system will possibly be a crack of the central operating system. Therefore, the responsible person should scan the relations thoroughly between the function of a database, and it is done with the help of the operating system.

Gollmann stated that there are five layers in the information technology system, and these layers are applications, services, operating systems, OS kernel, and hardware. Every layer is created on top of other primary ones.

The database system is at the service and application layer, it lies above the operating system layer, and in case any weakness is recognized in the operating system platforms, that fault can lead to some illegal access and manipulation of the database.

The configuration files and scripts of the database lie at server level resources, and they should be protected at any cost to make sure about the reliability of the database environment.

In many database environments, the members who are included in the Operating group are authorized full power of controlling over the database. And, to get rid of the threats related to the exploitation and mistreatment, those users’ membership should be warranted regularly.

One of the significant responsibilities of the administrator is to identify settings of the operating system and amend the size of the buffer or the timeout period. It is done to avoid the refusal of service attack.

2. Network layer

Data is transmitted through a network that includes LAN (Local Area Network) and Internet web applications for communicating with the database or other distributed components. The major two network transmissions are made from user to web server and web application to web database server. These communications should be entirely protected. Even though the administrator can secure the network in the local domain, the access all over the web is unmanageable.

Encryption is one of the most influential technologies. It not only sets apart the invader sets apart, but the encrypted data is almost unreadable and tremendously hard to decrypt. The only way to decipher the text is its matching key.

Two significant ways for encrypting the database system are- first, encryption option provided by the database products and second, obtaining encryption products from the trusted vendors. Furthermore, there is one more approach for safety connection, and that is the usage of secured protocols better than TCP/IP, for example, the technology of IPsec and VPN (Virtual Private Network).

The personal traffic can be provided by VPN for the public internet by means of encryption technology. In general, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is another way for cryptography on top of TCP/IP.

The Netscape acquire secure web sessions cab. SSL has now developed into TLS (Transport Layer Security) that ensures that there is no interference in the communication.

SSL utilization can aid in validating and protecting web sessions, all you have to take care of is a computer system, and it cannot be safe for itself.

 3. Web Servers

Standard programs and web programs some dissimilarities in the functions of safety and security. For a web application program, the main reason is safety, which is not easy to perceive. The web server that keeps all the intrusion at bay is located in the middle of the firewall and application server. It can be applied as an intermediate source to retrieve the data that we approve of.

In present times, the software that is commonly used in the web application is CGI (Common Gateway Interface). However, the webserver is used for different functions serves the easier for it is more straightforward. As a web page counter, it works in a user-friendly way.

Besides, when it takes an input from the remote user, it can be diversely used to access the information as some uncertain quantity to the local database. CGI presents the results to the user, once the retrieval from the database is done.

Also, it is risky because CGI scripts allow software applications to be carried out within the webs server. The most used language for CGI scripts in Perl, as it is easy to build applications with it and parse the input from the user.

The intruder is easily able to attack the system if CGI was weakly executed by the webserver. This may be disastrous to the system as someone can easily remove the classified files from the webserver.

If you do not handle the default settings of the webserver comprehensively, then they can be huge trouble for the system in case of the database system networks with CGI. So, you need to ensure that the client systems for which operations are being unapproved whenever a user logs into the database. A webserver with verification methods built-in CGI is one of the best ways to encrypt the files and protect the files. Through this one way, the files other than readable are protected to the webserver. The safety gaps should be checked regularly to all the scripts, even if they are acquired, downloaded, self-developed, or brought from vendors.

4. Firewalls

It is one of the significant layers that can alleviate the external interruption that can cause damage to the database. The data that is connected between the application and database is split into packets containing information in its headers such as-destination address, source, and the used protocol. Most of them are without sources address or with ones that are hard to access.

The firewall arrangement should be made in such a way that access should be granted only one or a few protocols which are helpful for application queries such as TCP. Consequently, even the nominal amount of risk is upheld for the vulnerable system. Moreover, if the firewalls are built to abandon the ICMP demand, the fatal losses can be kept systematic. The potential attackers should be marked out by reserving logfiles at the firewall.

5. Database server

Database servers are the basic and essential elements in each sector, including education, military, human resources, economics, health, modern arts and sciences, information technology, manpower, information technology, financial institutions, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) System, stalkholders, etc.

The functions of the Database servers are depended on the users who intend to apply the services provided by the operating systems. Some of the safety practices that can protect Database Servers are-

  • Make sure to use multiple passwords for accessing a server’s multi-function, e.g., using one password to access the single system for administration.
  • It would be best if you use a different password for each operation.
  • Get reviewed for every transaction of the database.
  • Employ user names and passwords that are application-specific and never make use of the default user name/ password.
  • Don’t forget to back up the system thoroughly in case of accidentally break down.