Oracle Locks DBAs in the Vault

Oracle's new Database Vault technology restricts data access rights of even powerful users, while its new encryption technology, Secure Backup, encrypts data to tape.

Oracles new Database Vault technology restricts data access rights of even powerful users, while its new encryption technology, Secure Backup, encrypts data to tape.

Oracle introduced two new security tools on April 25: Database Vault, which restricts data access rights of even powerful users such as database administrators, and Secure Backup encryption technology, which ensures that even tapes that get lost or misplaced wont be readable by the wrong set of eyes.

Database Vault is designed to meet organizations need to comply with regulatory and privacy mandates and related separation-of-duty mandates that require more than one person to complete a sensitive task. Its also designed to protect businesses against security threats from insiders.

Mark Townsend, Oracles senior director of product management for the database, in Redwood Shores, Calif., said that customers are increasingly looking to be able to prove to auditors that theyre on top of controlling data privacy.

"Databases hold [sensitive data such as] end-of-quarter results, etc.," Townsend said. "Companies need to be able to prove DBAs havent had access to that information."

Database Vault has security controls that allow for incremental restrictions on data access. The product establishes realms that can encapsulate an application or a set of database objects inside a protection zone. Rules can also be set to restrict operations based on business-specific factors such as a particular database, a machine, IP addresses, time of day or authentication modes.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read about Oracles recently released secure enterprise search technology.

Thus, the software can be set up to prevent a DBA from changing the database from outside the corporate intranet or after normal working hours, for example.

"This is automated prevention where you can come into a large, existing database and say, This data over here, we want to make sure DBAs arent seeing end-of-quarter results," Townsend said. "We can make users control access from existing applications. They may have users with access through their [Microsoft] Access spreadsheet but dont want to have access through the command line, or [during] a certain part of the day, or through a particular location.

"This is the final mile, we think, in terms of security and separation of duty," he said.

Rules can also be applied to all SQL commands. Database Vault also includes detailed reports that can be used to satisfy audits.

Oracle also announced Oracle Secure Backup, a high-performance network tape backup for Oracle databases and file systems on Linux, Unix and Windows. It supports more than 200 tape devices from leading vendors.

Secure Backup encrypts data to tape to ensure that it doesnt get tinkered with even in the event that backup tapes are lost or stolen.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more on the IOUGs report, which finds that Linux is moving to dominate Oracle shops.

"There are two aspects [of security] we address: one, we provide a fully integrated disk-to-tape backup solution. Oracle database can now talk to over 200 tape devices. Two, were also encrypting those backups, as well. If those tapes get lost in transit, theres no chance to intercept or recover the database and read data out of it," Townsend said.

Oracle claims that the backup product is the first to embed backup logic directly within a relational database engine. Townsend said that the integration with the database means that Secure Backup has tighter security levels, higher performance and greater ease of use than would be possible otherwise.

"Because its integrated with Oracle [databases], its very fast," he said. "We know which data has been changed in the database and can back that up very quickly because securitys fully built into [the database] as well."

Oracle Database Vault is a stand-alone security technology. Oracle expects to deliver the Linux version of both Database Vault and Secure Backup within the next 30 days, while versions for other platforms will be available in the coming six months for both products.

/zimages/1/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.