Preventing a Database Breach

One of the hardest thing to do it prevent something from happening when you don’t know when it might happen or who will try to make it happen. As a Database Administrator, you have to be aware that data breaching might happen and take reasonable precautions to prevent them. According to the 2016 study by IBM, 60% of database attacks are insiders (people using approved network credentials) looking to access or steal corporate data.

There are some basic steps you should execute to help prevent unauthorized access to your database environment.

  1. Enforce Privileges – As an employee starts their tenure at a company, they are usually given the exact correct privileges for their position. The longer the employee is with a company, the correct privileges start to vary from the effective privileges, until eventually the employee has the wrong access privileges.  You need to make sure those initial access rights are correct from day one, and that you periodically review the access rights for every employee. If there is any question about the correct privileges, you should contact their supervisor and document the correct level of access.
  2. Database Discovery – People are busy, and don’t always pay attention when new database instances are created. The people who manage the databases are often times not the people who install the software, so this can lead to an environment where there are unauthorized or poorly configured database instances. Database discovery is a crucial first step for avoiding security issues, so you should scan your environment for new database instances as often as possible. The amount of change in your environment will dictate how often you should search for new database instances, but the minimum is annually.
  3. Connection EncryptionEncrypting the connection between the user and the database can help prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.
  4. Strong Password – You should expect the same password strength for your databases as you expect on the network. If possible, use Windows Authentication instead of SQL Server Authentication. This will help enforce the same password strength as your network password, and you must verify that the network settings are using best practice strength requirements.
  5. Detect Compromised Credentials – It is estimated that 60% of companies cannot detect compromised credentials, based on a study by solution vendor Rapid7. Since authorized individuals use databases in a predictable way, abnormal or unauthorized access will be detected and you can be alerted.  There are security appliances that can catch unusual or unwanted user access based solely on algorithm analysis, preventing a possible  data breach.
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