Database Security

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Database Security is a process whereby data security is incorporated into an enterprise database to protect integrity, privacy, and availability. Several types of controls are technically, procedurally/administratively regulated, or physical.

Database activity monitoring (DAM)

Database activity monitoring (DAM) technology enables organizations to detect anomalous database usage, compromised credentials, and implausible access patterns.

There are several types of controls used to reduce the likelihood of a breach:

1. Physical security controls such as guards and locks that restrict entry into the room where data is stored or backed up

2. Procedural or administrative controls involve instilling accountability for potential breaches by restricting access and enforcing specific policies and procedures to protect the organization's assets. This may include changing ID badge requirements after hours, locking up ID badges, implementing password changes regularly, locking specific systems down so only key personnel can access them.

3. Technical Controls are controls that protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data by putting technological components or mechanisms to secure it from unauthorized access or use.

- Physical security

- Administrative Controls

- Technical Controls

Network Access Control (NAC) products are considered technical controls used to limit who can access an organizations' resources both inside and outside the perimeter of network database security infrastructure, including wired and wireless devices. This includes computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets—anything individuals might use to connect to your organization's resources for legitimate reasons as well as infamous ones. NAC products also provide real-time health status information about devices attempting to connect to ensure they meet required levels of security.

Network Access Control (NAC) is essentially an access control database management system for your network resources that restricts the ability of users to connect devices to enterprise networks until each device can be vetted by the security team via authentication and compliance measures, assuring that only known suitable devices are allowed onto the network. The purpose of Network Access Control is to prevent unknown or uncertified hardware from being connected to your network until it has been identified and verified as safe. NAC achieves this through capabilities such as endpoint posture assessment, quarantine-based remediation, lockdown/reset, remote kill/reboot, encryption key management, user activity monitoring & reporting, session auditing & recording.

A "trusted path" is an example of physical security control. This is a path between two servers that are only available to the primary and secondary and has no entrances or exits except at the beginning and end of the path.

An example of administrative control would be using strong passwords to access sensitive computer systems. If these passwords are changed frequently, this reduces the likelihood of using old password information to gain access.

If you are concerned about your organization's data

If so, it might be time to consider Geolance. Our technology will help you monitor and protect your databases from anomalous activity by detecting compromised credentials and implausible access patterns. We offer a comprehensive solution for organizations of all sizes – whether you have one database environment or thousands, we can help!

With our DAM solution, you won't have to worry about unauthorized users accessing sensitive information. It provides real-time alerts on suspicious activity that could indicate a breach in security protocols. With Geolance, you can rest easy knowing that your data is safe from cybercriminals who want to steal it for their gain. And if the system detects any issues, we will notify you immediately so that they can be resolved as quickly as possible before they cause any damage to your business or reputation. Don't let another day go by without protecting yourself against potential threats – sign up today!

To monitor database activity, one should monitor

1) Database Transparent Data Encryption (TDE): SQL Server TDE encrypts Azure SQL Database by default and helps protect data from theft by anyone who manages to copy your data files while they're still in your Azure shared storage account (which could happen if you ever lose control of it).

2) Triggers: Triggers are server-side code that you can create in SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, and Azure SQL Data Warehouse to monitor INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE operations performed on either tables or views. That way the triggers execute when the thru variable is inserted into or updated in a table or view.

3) Audit Logs: Firewall allows you to centrally define policies with detailed application limitations for each user group. While the definition of rules completely depends upon how organizations manage their network infrastructure. It is recommended to enable this feature if they haven't yet done so. In addition, direct access event logs allow administrators to track activity that attempts to establish direct connections between two endpoints on the same database server instance.

4) SQL Server Audit: SQL Server Audit provides a unified approach to audit files access, privileged activities, and errors raised by the server. This helps you keep track of who is doing what inside your database engine.

Separate database servers

From a security perspective, it's probably a good idea to keep all production databases on separate servers. Then, if one of your servers is compromised, the attacker doesn't have direct access to the others. In addition, there are fewer chances for something to go wrong if all three of your servers are identical in terms of performance and capabilities. Finally, as an option, you could consider putting two web front-end machines in a load-balanced configuration with a single backend machine that has the databases installed on it. This way you'll ensure that any active connections to a particular database will be terminated when either server goes offline due to maintenance or other tasks.

Deploy physical database security

If you're looking for maximum protection, it might be best to deploy your SQL Server in a virtualized environment. While this will allow you to make snapshots of the OS and data files, doing so will add some performance overhead by requiring the OS (hypervisor) and database engine to run multiple copies of themselves simultaneously. There's also added risk that someone could delete or corrupt one of your snapshot images which would cause both databases residing on that file server to go offline while they're repaired or rebuilt. As an alternative, you could consider deploying Windows authentication and encrypting all traffic between client and server using IPsec/UDP protocols with solid credentials such as certificates or multi-factor authentication tokens. This will provide better security but at the expense.

Connecting to the database is done through a process known as authentication. To connect, you must have either an admin-level login or sysadmin-level login. Once authenticated, each subsequent connection is referred to as a session within your database application. Before connecting to the database, you must ensure that both ends of this 'session' can securely verify each other's identity before data is transmitted between them.

Secure SQL Server

The Microsoft SQL platform provides excellent security capabilities by default and most cases will not require further configuration. However, several steps can be taken to harden an installation for production use - typically these are aimed at people doing development on the server with test databases where they can accept the risk. First, ensure that SQL Server authentication and connections are restricted only to localhost where possible - this is particularly important on a shared build environment which may house developer databases. This will prevent hackers from connecting to your system over the internet and directly modifying data, settings, or permissions inside your database engine.

Prevention

To limit exposure of confidential information such as credit card numbers you should restrict access to the server by either placing it behind a firewall or VPN so that all requests must be made via an application known as a proxy (such as IIS). It's also recommended that you don't share physical servers (for example using virtual servers running on VMware ESX) and store sensitive databases on separate drives/volumes to the OS to reduce the risk of unauthorized access.

Daily maintenance

SQL Server is a complex piece of database management software. You should schedule regular downtime to perform routine tasks such as backups, index rebuilds, defrags, updating statistics, etc. A good rule of thumb is to plan for at least one hour per day across all databases where this kind of activity can be performed without impacting users who are actively accessing their data. Be sure to test the scripts you're using for these jobs before they are executed in production because if they have bugs or aren't configured correctly, they may cause your system to become unstable.

Data security issues

If you find yourself asking 'how secure is my database?' then chances are it's not! The key to secure SQL Server operation is monitoring activity by auditing sensitive operations such as changes made to the structure of tables, data breach added or deleted from databases, login attempts, etc. To achieve this you need to implement an auditing solution that logs these events into a separate database (or even better directly into a Syslog server). You can then search through your event logs later on and find out if any unauthorized actions were taken. But remember; don't keep audit records for more than 1-2 months because they will affect the performance of the server unless you implement additional storage solutions.

Table security

From Microsoft's point of view, anyone who has access to your SQL Server installation should have full control over every table in every database. However, we can make some slight modifications to this behavior by implementing a more granular security model that is based on the table and/or column rather than the user or group object. This provides better privileges with finer control and allows us to configure which columns data is written to as well as how values are entered into them (for example you may wish to force people to enter data in a particular format such as an email address).

Row-level security

Suppose your application only needs access to specific rows of data for users who have authenticated themselves successfully. Then, it would be best if you considered using row-level security - this is enabled by default on the latest versions of SQL Server Enterprise Edition, known as Dynamic Data Masking (DDM). This feature allows us to mask sensitive data fields on queries so they are not returned when the query is executed.

Transaction-level security

Sometimes you may wish to allow users to update or delete records within a table except for specific rows that match certain criteria (e.g. only certain user accounts should be able to drop tables). If this is the case, you need transaction-level security to build upon the row-level security model by adding additional restrictions on how changes can be made using WHERE clauses of your queries. You may also want to apply restrictions based upon context such as time windows, IP addresses, etc. This requires careful configuration of your database objects and requires an understanding of how SQL Server handles what it calls 'constraints' (both user-defined and automatically added)

Other security concerns

SQL Server is a complex piece of software so you must always consider potential areas to exploit. These include XML, Stored Procedures, Views, DDL Triggers, etc. If you wish to reduce the chances of vulnerabilities being discovered then don't install unnecessary components that aren't required by your application(s). For example; I'm pretty sure most systems won't need CLR integration which has led to several serious security holes. Instead, try using .NET stored procedures which are much faster running natively within SQL Server itself.

Native audit

You may wish to monitor or restrict which system tables a user can access. If this is the case then implementing native auditing on SQL Server should be considered for better performance and more control over what gets logged. This method still uses security tokens to determine whether a user is authorized to access a particular table, index or column but instead of logging that into an external database it logs records directly into the relevant Syslog/security event log table itself; providing much faster feedback to anyone who tries accessing objects they shouldn't (and quicker alerts when unusual activity occurs).

Other ways

You might also like to branch your audit solution out by using different data capture tools such as SIEM (Systems Information and Event Access Management) systems which are becoming more commonplace in enterprise IT departments since they can process large volumes of data quickly and provide useful insights into any suspicious activity that may be occurring on your network. For example, if you have several web servers running on different ports all listening for HTTP or HTTPS requests then it's possible to use one of these systems to monitor the log files being produced by each of the IIS hosts without needing to configure anything else on those servers at all - just set them up to pass data directly into the SIEM system so you can analyze it later.

Other Things

If you need additional information about securing databases, more details can be found here. As always, using Microsoft SQL Server is only part of what it takes to build a secure system that's capable of maintaining integrity and confidentiality. In my opinion, it's always best to use the least privilege possible when configuring your database software so try not to install more features than you need/use.

Use real-time database monitoring.

After spending all that time and effort creating a secure database, you don't want to lose it because of crashing hardware or software due to disk space issues. For this reason, using real-time database monitoring from a reputable vendor is probably a good idea as it can provide alerts when things go wrong so you can react before any serious events occur.

Conclusion

In conclusion, SQL Server security isn't always straightforward but hopefully, the above information will help you make informed decisions about how best to implement suitable controls depending upon your specific requirements. If you need additional information about anything covered in this article, please feel free to post a comment below and I'll do my best to answer them for everyone's benefit. In the meantime, if your organization needs help with designing/implementing a secure database solution, please don't hesitate to get in touch so we can discuss your requirements and come up with the best possible solution for you.

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