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Database Security Best Practices and Solutions

It is easy to believe that security for databases is the sole responsibility of RDBMS (RDBMS) suppliers. They are experts in their systems and theoretically ought to be the first-choice source for products that safeguard their databases. But, in reality, RDBMS vendors only provide only a small portion of the security picture.

Certain essential security features are included in relational databases: identity management access control, identity management, and encryption for communication are just a few examples. But this doesn’t cover numerous essential services that are essential, like surveillance of users’ activities, SQL injection protection and vulnerability assessment. In other instances, the information available is not sufficient. For instance, databases-generated audit trails are often lacking the required information required to prepare compliance reports. Likewise, the built-in encryption can be slow and difficult to integrate.

Additionally the gap in security for databases gets larger when RDBMS customers’ requirements are considered because organizations usually require security from more than one kind of database. Single-platform products do not work well when an enterprise is dealing with sensitive information stored in multiple types of databases. Most companies use Oracle in conjunction with Postgres and MySQL or DB2, Sybase and SQL Server — each of them serving its distinct and essential tasks.

Equally problematic is the fact that the requirements for compliance and security in the enterprise tend to be concentrated on the security of the data and not the infrastructure. Security of data, in contrast requires more than security of the database container. the manner in which data is usedand in what context is a matter that is not addressed by databases or the role-based systems for access control.

This is why the tools for security of databases play an important, if perhaps the primary role for protecting information of companies within the center of data. Let’s look more closely into these security tools, and the ways they will fill in the gap in capabilities for data security of databases within the enterprise.

Monitoring the activity of databases

The most important aspect of security for databases can be found in activity tracking, which are often referred to as”database activity monitoring” (DAM) platform. They record every SQL activities that are logged that is logged into the database — which includes administrative actions, and then analyze the data for any behavioral, contextual or security-related misuse. They can identify and alert you to a range of threats. In addition, they are able to block certain statementsalthough few organizations utilize this block feature.

The reason why most organizations are able to implement DAM in their security arsenals is not only to identify threats, but rather because it’s the best method to gather a complete trace of events to support reports on regulatory compliance and also to offer data and filtering options that aren’t available in integrated audit logs of databases. It’s as simple as this: DAM is to databases in the same way that security information and log management and event management is for general IT data security, and report management.

The disadvantage of DAM is that it takes time to set up local agents. Additionally, it can be costly to purchase and maintain, and it is required to make periodic changes to policies to ensure that alerts are alerted of any inappropriate activity. Additionally, companies can decide not to block queries from databases, since it could cause undesirable side consequences in the state of applications or data quality.

It’s important to note that there’s a smaller part in the DAM vendor market that offers more security-focused products, which are commonly known as database firewalls. They’re similar to a Web Application Firewall (WAF) in that they function as an intermediary that is placed on top of the database, as opposed to the application and is designed to stop malicious traffic. Similar to WAFs the database firewalls analyze the traffic coming in and filter it on the basis of particular security rules, including blacklists and whitelists of queries.

For instances where databases have an immediate exposure to outside (i.e., Internet) threats, firewalls for databases will prevent SQL injection attacks and block unneeded queries. They can be helpful in situations when it’s too expensive or time-consuming to modify the software. In addition there are proxy providers that can mask or redact results of queries depending on the user’s credentials. Also known as data masking, these services alter the query results that are sent to the user when the request is considered to be questionable or if the user doesn’t have the right permissions to access all data sought.

Assessment of databases

Database assessment tools, often called tools for assessing vulnerability in databases test the configuration of databases and patches levels. In contrast to standard endpoint and server assessment tools, vulnerability assessment tools examine operating system settings and configuration data stored in the database, which is not accessible to assessment tools for servers. These tools that are focused on databases have thousands of pre-built checks for specific errors, as well as the presence of typical attacks. They cover not only vendor-recommended database security best practices but also industry-recommended security protocols too.

Some databases have basic security checks that are integrated into their standard administrator capabilities. But the fact of the situation is that the third party vulnerability analysis products are crucial, since they provide details and details that most database vendors decide not to provide. Although vendors can inform organizations of specific vulnerabilities in their databases and related patches, third-party vendors also provide solutions, reconfigurations and analyses that unlike the database vendors. They may, for instance recommend the removal of options for databases that are known to pose security risks.

Additionally, the majority of third-party software is developed with non-technical stakeholder in mind. Therefore, while they offer the necessary separation of tasks among security as well as DBA teams, individuals who aren’t well-versed in technical details of databases are able to ensure that the right guidelines are being followed and are enforced.


The majority of databases provide encryption features, typically to protect certain columns or even cells within the database. These internal capabilities are typically controlled by the application, it’s the application that has to be upgraded to call the database encryption libraries that secure and decrypt information. This kind of encryption, commonly referred to as”application-layer encryption” (despite it being supplied through the databases) is now out of use because of performance and integration problems.

The majority of customers using databases use the term transparent encryption of databases also known as TDE abbreviated. TDE is a system that works on all data, and is able to encrypt data that is transferred to as well as from databases when it is written or read-out from the disk. In addition, and somewhat paradoxically TDE is more efficient than application layer encryption. However, the most significant advantage for TDE is that it’s not visible for the end user as well as the application , and even the database. This means that encryption is able to be added without modifications to the application’s code or queries to the database. This results in disk files and databases are protected from the prying eyes of others.

The weaknesses of TDE is in two ways It needs a robust key management system to guarantee data security. Additionally, any authenticated user or application will receive encrypted the data on request. Therefore, even though TDE solves the majority of data-at-rest security concerns, it also requires aid in proving access and use.

Masking and tokenization

If an organization isn’t confident in an existing database, or cannot guarantee that the database’s integrity in the long run, how can it ensure that the data is safe? It may delete it, but any program which relied on the data will cease to function. In addition, two security tools based on data have gained a lot of attention in the field of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance and testing data management.

Because these security tools for databases integrate compliance and security knowledge in the already-designed policies They ease the load on operations and security teams. This means that companies aren’t creating rules from the ground up.

Two of them are masking and tokenization.

Tokenization replaces sensitive information with an alternate that looks and behaves exactly like the original the same way as an arcade or subway token behaves like cash. The applications will can continue to function as usual however there is no risk that the data goes missing or stolen. Tokens are only worth their significance as a reference to the original value. The value is kept in a separatehighly secure database known as a token vault. The vault is only accessible by a select group of users.

Tokens are great for the substitution of one data element, for instance an account number from a credit card, however, what happens when an enterprise has a lot of complicated data needed to analyze data?

Data masking — also known as static data maskingis a method used to swap sensitive data sets by masking copies, yet preserve the overall value of a database. The term “mask” mask is an effective method of hiding data, like changing values within a salary column and replacing actual names for names randomly pulled from a phone book or even altering the date of birth of a person by a few days from the actual value. This way the true data is hidden, but the masking copy has sufficient resemblance to the original data that it continues to yield useful results.

Data masking and tokenization can substitute sensitive data with an equivalent, thus removing sensitive data completely, which can eliminate the requirement for security in databases entirely.


Database security tools are made available by the database providers as well as third-party security vendors and can be found within open-source distributions. With database security software the old adage “you receive what you spend for” applies. Log data scanners and vulnerability scanners mining tools are usually cheap, and sometimes free. However, they are typically lacking the variety of functions and features and offer a poor customer experience and can’t provide the flexibility needed by many firms. Monitoring activity and encryption is complex security tasks that require the most effective tools developed by security specialists from third-party companies. There are better tools available out of the box capabilities, however at a significant cost.

Support and training

Since these database security tools integrate security and compliance information into pre-designed policies They ease the burden on the security and operations teams. This means that companies aren’t making rules from the ground up. However, each kind of security software for databases -whether it is a the tool or the platform is sufficiently complex in the deployment and management that a certain amount of training is needed.

In all instances, third-party suppliers of these security tools provide instruction, which is usually included into the cost of the purchase. In the majority of instances, two to five days of training is enough to become familiar on the use of the platform. Although these platforms require regular management and maintenance they can be handled by internal staff and without the requirement for a experienced, dedicated support staff.