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Database Security: 8 Threats and Best Practices [Part 1]

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Data is a very critical asset of any organization. Everyday organizations across the globe collect a lot of data related to their daily operations, customers, employees, and partners. This data is stored in databases. Due to its utter importance and sensitivity, data protection is a critical component for all organizations, irrespective of their size.

In this series of two blogs, we’ll be listing key database threats along with best practices to combat the same. Before that, let’s quickly understand what is database security.

Also Read: 6 Cybersecurity practices that organizations must embrace in 2022

What is Database Security?

Database security refers to the various measures that the organizations take to ensure their databases are protected from internal and external threats. Database security includes protecting the database itself, the data it contains, its database management system, and the various applications that access it from misuse, damage, and intrusion. It includes a variety of measures used to secure database management systems from malicious cyber-attacks and illegitimate use.

Database Security Threats and Vulnerabilities

  1. Database Injection Attacks: The two major types of database injection attacks are SQL injections that target traditional database systems and NoSQL injections that target big data platforms. In both types, a successful input injection attack can give an attacker unrestricted access to an entire database.
  2. Denial of Service (DoS/DDoS) Attacks: Such attacks slow down a database server and can make it unavailable to all users. Despite the fact that a such attacks don’t disclose the contents of a database, it may cost the victims a lot of time and money as what’s the use of a database if you can’t use or access it.
  3. Database Vulnerabilities and Misconfigurations: It often happens that databases are found totally unprotected due to misconfiguration. Moreover, some databases have default accounts and configuration parameters. One should remember that hackers are often highly professional IT specialists who surely know how to exploit database vulnerabilities and misconfigurations and use them to attack your company.
  4. Weak Audit Trails: If a database is not audited well, it presents non-compliance risks with both national and critical international regulations for data security. Thus, organizations must record and register all its database events, and the business must deploy solutions for automatic auditing.
  5. Insider Threats: According to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report, a significant number of all attacks were carried out by insiders. An insider threat refers to a cyber security risk that originates from within an organization. It may be executed intentionally or unintentionally. No matter the intent, the end result is compromised confidentiality, availability, and/or integrity of enterprise systems and data.
  6. Human Error: Human error is one of the major contributing factors to the majority of cyber security breaches. In several cases, human error has allowed hackers to access an organization’s sensitive data and encrypted channels. In fact, according to the IBM Cyber Security Intelligence Index Report, 95% of cyber security breaches are primarily caused by human error.
  7. Buffer Overflow Attacks: Buffer overflow takes place when a process tries to write a large amount of data to a fixed-length block of memory, more than it is permitted to hold. Attackers might use the excess data, kept in adjacent memory addresses, as the starting point from which to launch attacks.
  8. Excessive Privileges: When employees are granted default database privileges that exceed the requirements of their job functions, these privileges can be abused. Further, some organizations fail to update access privileges for employees who change roles within an organization or leave altogether.

In this article we learned about some of the major threats your databases and sensitive data within can be exposed to. Stay tuned to our next article wherein we’ll talk about how to combat these threats.

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