Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


11:11 AM
Adrian Lane
Adrian Lane

Database Security Restart

How to restart your database security program

I'd mentioned a couple posts back that I was being asked to jump-start database security programs for several companies. Some large enterprises, some small, but the basic problem is the same: They need to get a handle on the current security situation and plan how to improve across the board. So in concept this is pretty simple, just figure out where they want to be, and build a plan to get there.

In reality, getting consistency across the company is a big challenge. Each firm has some existing tools to automate the mundane security tasks, but the quality of the tools and resources varies greatly, as does the lever of security and compliance requirements. Fundamentally, they all have the same basic question: "Where do I start?"

To form a plan, let's start with three basic questions:

* What do you have? * What are you accountable for? * What do you not know?

To address the first bullet, take a basic inventory of systems that you are responsible for. You will need this information in order to understand both the scope of work, they types of skills you'll need, and the types of tools you'll need to automate some security tasks. There are tools like NMap to help scan the network and provide an inventory.

Second, understand what these databases are used for and who owns them. That should give you a better idea of the type of data they store, the applications they serve, and who has access rights. This later point is incredibly important because, if you need to secure the database, you're going to need to get someone with admin rights to make the appropriate changes. For smaller firms you may already know all of this, or you think you do; you may be surprised when network scan results show a number of applications that have embedded database systems that are largely insecure. In larger organizations with databases being provisioned outside of IT -- in QA, in development, in cloud environments -- that clouds the picture. Again, find out what databases are in play, and how to get access.

Third, what tools are available to you? Did someone in your organization previously purchase or deploy database security tools? Were some tools bundled with the software that you purchased from your vendor? Do you have scripts? Do some of the generic network or vulnerability scanners work with databases? Do you have a support agreement with the vendor who will answer your questions or provide you with best-practices documentation? You're going to need some tools to help automate tasks and round out your knowledge of database security issues. Tools, documents, access to peer groups, and vendor support are good ways to do this.

For the second bullet, ask yourself if you know what a secure database looks like. Do you have a security specification? Do you have a baseline set of standards for DB security? What compliance controls are you supposed to be following? Understanding what security and compliance issues you are responsible for is key to knowing how to act. For most DBA's and security professionals, you'll have hundreds of databases to manage, so you're going to need to prioritize what controls are most important, which databases are most important, and formulate a plan of action based upon that. You can secure most databases with a couple days' work -- you cannot secure all of your databases with a couple days work. Build a plan based upon _your_ priorities.

Bullet three is simply to stress that the discover process for databases should yield some surprises. Now you need to run assessments of the databases you have to secure and find out what state they are in - don't try to do this by hand but get an open source or commercial scanner. You'll save time and it will have embedded knowledge about hundreds of databases. And these tools cover most areas of concern: patching, IAM, configuration, compliance, up-to-date threat intel, and (in most cases) discovery.

If you can, work with other groups to get an idea of how many databases, and of what type, are being used. This may sound like more work -- and it is -- but when you run purchase requests up the chain-of-command, they'll likely get stalled by purchasing until other groups get their say in the process. Deal with this up front -- and you'll likely get to push the expense across other groups within your company.

Adrian Lane is an analyst/CTO with Securosis LLC, an independent security consulting practice. Special to Dark Reading. Adrian Lane is a Security Strategist and brings over 25 years of industry experience to the Securosis team, much of it at the executive level. Adrian specializes in database security, data security, and secure software development. With experience at Ingres, Oracle, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Barry Shteiman
Barry Shteiman,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/25/2013 | 6:32:51 PM
re: Database Security Restart
There is another element that I believe is worth bringing to the table when database security projects are on the line:-the hidden costs of infrastructure.

Projects around database security are sometimes planned around an audit point as the business requirement, but they do not take into account all of the infrastructure required to get to the goal.-Storage space is many times overlooked in the theme of things, and it is not uncommon to see project managers struggle allocating space only after the project has kicked off. same goes for Virtualization infrastructure and-management-efforts.

I would like to put an emphasis Adrian's excellent point of view, that the-consensus-for a database security project sow and content should involve both the business unit end of the organization and all of the relevant takers from the technical-perspective. much like any large project, it is going to touch everyone.
Manchester United Suffers Cyberattack
Dark Reading Staff 11/23/2020
As 'Anywhere Work' Evolves, Security Will Be Key Challenge
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/23/2020
Cloud Security Startup Lightspin Emerges From Stealth
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  11/24/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-30
SQL injection vulnerability in request.cgi in Synology SafeAccess before 1.2.3-0234 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the domain parameter.
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-30
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in Synology SafeAccess before 1.2.3-0234 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the (1) domain or (2) profile parameter.
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-30
An issue was discovered on Fujitsu Eternus Storage DX200 S4 devices through 2020-11-25. After logging into the portal as a root user (using any web browser), the portal can be accessed with root privileges when the URI cgi-bin/csp?cspid=&csppage=cgi_PgOverview&csplang=en is visit...
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-30
hw/usb/hcd-ohci.c in QEMU 5.0.0 has a stack-based buffer over-read via values obtained from the host controller driver.
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-29
An issue was discovered on V-SOL V1600D V2.03.69 and V2.03.57, V1600D4L V1.01.49, V1600D-MINI V1.01.48, V1600G1 V2.0.7 and V1.9.7, and V1600G2 V1.1.4 OLT devices. It is possible to elevate the privilege of a CLI user (to full administrative access) by using the password [email protected]#y$z%x6x7q8c9z) for the e...