By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-10-29 Print this article Print

According to Noel Yuhanna, a Forrester Research analyst, data theft is running rampant not only in production databases, but also within data transfers, on data stored in databases, as well as on data stored in tape and backups. Most enterprises still neglect to focus on database security, Yuhanna said, but at least that trend is slowly starting to turn around—as evidenced in part by the Visa-AppSec partnership. "I think it will be helpful for Visa, especially when they deal with such sensitive data, [and] especially given the fact that there are a lot of intrusions and hacks going on, and they will only increase. Unless customers and vendors secure the data, it will be an open situation," Yuhanna said.
Anthony Passaniti, head of the security office for Swiss Re, North, South and Latin America, in Armonk, N.Y., has been spreading deployment of AppSec tools throughout the global reinsurance firm for about a year and a half. The difference in database security before and after the deployment of the tools boils down to consistency in the way developers behave in taking applications from development to testing, he said, since AppSec tools check for security at every step of the way.
"We dont have to spend so much time testing and certifying an application before it goes into production," he said. "Its secured as its being built. You just give it a once-over. In development, and in testing, we use the tools. At the end, we give it one more quick check, and if everything looks good, we give it the stamp of approval and put it into use—as opposed to finishing coding, scanning it, stopping the process" and going back to fix insecure coding, he said. "If its at the end, it may take twice as long to try to fix it as if you build controls in." The use of AppSec tools should make it easier for member banks and merchants to comply with a number of security requirements in Visas CISP (Cardholder Information Security Program). For example, those requirements stipulate that member banks and retailers keep security patches up to date; protect stored data by, for example, encrypting passwords; avoid the use of vendor-supplied default passwords and settings; assign unique IDs to people with computer access; track access to data by unique ID; and regularly test security systems and processes. AppSec tools include checks and procedures for handling all such issues. Visa loves it all, Perry said. "The vulnerability assessment tool is tremendously valuable, to find out whats happening inside our databases," she said. "And their intrusion detection—after all, regulations require that companies do the most they can to ensure any type of malicious activity is being addressed with the latest technology available. And we really like the column-level encryption tool, which allows much more flexibility in securing data within a database while still allowing access to data when needed." But its too early to say whether Visa intends to require members to use the technology, she said. At this point, the two companies will work together to collaborate and co-develop solutions in order to get them into the hands of Visas member companies. As part of the partnership, Visa has acquired a minority equity investment in AppSec. Check out eWEEK.coms Database Center at for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.

Be sure to add our database news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel