Keep Ahead of the Hackers

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-09-12 Print this article Print

Stay Ahead of Vulnerabilities and Mitigate the Risk of Breaches

The following are best-practices tips for staying ahead of database vulnerabilities and for mitigating the risk of an enterprise breach.

Stay patched. Intruders seek out known vulnerabilities and will exploit them when possible. A crucial element of securing the database is to ensure that patches are implemented in a timely manner and known vulnerabilities are monitored in real time.

Automate security tasks as a regular part of database maintenance. So much of security relies on regular assessments and validation; the day-to-day work can quickly decline into tedium and get overlooked. Through automation of security processes, security professionals can schedule routine tasks and reports. Today's database security solutions enable users to schedule tasks, manage tasks concurrently, and issue notifications and alerts. Automated report generation and delivery further simplifies the process of keeping stakeholders (auditors, regulators and security staff) informed.

Keep protections current. Utilizing software that provides regular security updates for patches, new threats and known vulnerabilities is essential to protecting the database and containing risk.

Concentrate on providing multiple layers of security. Protecting data at its source, the database, is essential to preventing breaches and data loss. Even with traditional perimeter security measures in place, the best way to defend against data harvesting (where attackers remove or damage large amounts of data) is to rely on a layered defense model that necessarily includes the database.

Audit systems regularly and address issues as they arise. Conducting regular audits will ensure that security policies are on track and will help to identify irregularities or potential breaches before it's too late. Utilizing security auditing tools will assist in monitoring and recording what is happening within the database and provide alerts when suspicious or abnormal activity occurs. These best practices help to secure an organization's databases from internal as well as external threats.

Encrypt data as appropriate. Encryption is an important last line of defense and a requirement of many compliance recommendations. Encryption is particularly important for data in transit, backup files and data stored outside of the database or on mobile devices such as laptops, tapes and memory sticks.

Continuously monitor and maintain systems. Database security is an ongoing process. Security professionals must continually monitor systems to ensure compliance while they evaluate and respond to the changing threat environment. Adhering to a recognized system, like the Database Security Vulnerability Management Lifecycle, can optimize an organization's ability to understand and mitigate risk, according to Julian.

Implement database intrusion detection and auditing, especially to manage the gap of time between patch release and deployment on your systems. Audits and vulnerability assessments serve to provide an excellent starting point to address security risks. This baseline should be augmented with real-time detection policies. Implementing an alert system that delivers intrusion detection warnings in real time ensures up-to-the-minute security awareness.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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