In this new digital world, the threat of malicious actors is very real and becoming much more of a problem than it was ten years ago. This is why businesses need to take cyber security seriously and adapt a proactive rather than reactive approach.
While it’s important to secure the end points of a business network, this does not go far enough. The digital assets within it also need to be secured. When it comes to databases, they have their own specialized security procedures and protocols that need to be implemented by an experienced database professional.
Databases house important customer or client information and that needs to be safeguarded at all costs to keep business integrity intact and to protect customer brand. There is nothing worse than a database that has been infiltrated by malicious actors and holding at ransom your business data.
Database security best practices
An experienced and certified database administrator will be across all best practices to keep business databases secure. They will run regular security tests where they simulate attacks or misuse of the database as a way of picking up any overlooked security gaps. This is known as penetration testing. They will monitor security logs on a regular basis and look for any unexplainable transactions or access.
Best practices in security measures also include having the web server and database server on different physical machines. That way, if a malicious actor has gained entry to the web server, they don’t have quick access to the database. The server which the database sits on must have its operating system up to date so that the latest security patches are installed. Similarly, the database administrator must stay on top of database software updates and security including patches. They must be installed as soon as they become available to protect the database from any new malicious code that has surfaced on the internet which puts databases at risk.
A strong database firewall should be erected which denies access to the database by default. It should only allow specific traffic through that comes from recognized sources. A web server firewall should also be implemented as part of database security best practices as SQL injection attacks by malicious actors can sometimes come via web server traffic.
Database security user account access must be air-tight to prevent data theft. This means that the roles in the user management system must be clearly defined, and that each role must only have access to the data they require to complete their job. The same goes for database administrator access. If access must be given to a part of the database to fix a problem, that access should only be given for a short period of time. Strong passwords must be enforced to stop unauthorized users, with procedures put in place for staff that leave the organization.
Encryption as part of database security
Data encryption is a way of describing the process of taking readable data and translating it into another, unidentifiable unique language. When you look at secure encrypted data, it will just look like a serious of random characters and numbers. Encryption is complicated and is generated by encryption software with complicated algorithms.
An encryption key is generated as part of this process that proves the origin and integrity of the key so if a malicious actor was to incept data transfer and tamper with the data, or try to replicate the key, the decryption process would fail. This is how the data is protected.
Only those that have the key can decipher the data. The key is provided to web applications trying to access the database, for example. Block ciphers are the most resistant to tampering when it comes to encryption methods. The longer the key the better the data security, but the longer the key size the more resources required to decipher it. There is a tradeoff that needs to happen. A good database expert will be able to strike the right balance as well as help with other tasks like good database design practice.
The purpose of encryption is for data protection, to protect confidential data. That way, if malicious actors were to somehow gain unauthorized access to the database, they would not be able to read the data or do anything with it. Database encryption is a very important part of database security best practices.
Encryption can apply to different parts of a database. For example, passwords should be stored in encrypted form. That way, if a malicious actor were to tamper with a database, they would only see encrypted passwords.
Encryption should be employed for all stored data within the database, especially sensitive data, as well as traffic that flows to and from the database in real time. This ensures that if malicious actors were to intercept traffic or to infiltrate the database, they wouldn’t be able to read any of the data.
As part of a database backup practice, all backups should be stored in encrypted form, but they should not be stored in the same place as encryption keys.
Unfortunately, many businesses do not plan for encryption and see it a “nice to have” or a hindrance to performance. However, it is an essential part of database security and in today’s world where there are more malicious actors than ever, it is something that needs to be seriously considered. There are many types of database encryption and these methods have improved over time. Symmetric encryption uses one key for encryption and decryption, for example. Asymmetric encryption uses two which is more secure, however this type of encryption is slower.
Database management and data security are issues that need to be catered to the needs of each individual business, based on the industry they are in and the kind of data they store. Experienced and certified database professionals can help you make the right choice. Talk to the experts at Everconnect to find out how they can help safeguard your database in the most cost-effective way.