As of late, digital warfare is at an all-time high, and the number of cyberattacksis on the rise, which makes protection of the corporate networks and databases most crucial. The cybercriminals mostly tend to target databases as these contain the most sensitive and highly valuable customer and financial data etc. The hackers can primarily benefit from breaching these plundering databases hosted at the business services.
Based on a new information security report by Gartner, their area few common critical security vulnerabilities which the cybercriminals usually take leverage of to intrude into their target databases. However, it is often the staff of the organization, administrators, or developers who unintentionally creates the environment for the hackers to gain easy access to the data and plan for cyberattacks.
In this article, we will discuss the top 8 security vulnerabilities found so often in the database-driven enterprise systems, either during the development phase, while integrating the applications, or while updating or patching the applications and so on.
Common security vulnerability
1. Deployment failure
The primary reason for database vulnerabilities is the lack of due diligence during the database deployment phase. Even though the database is thoroughly tested for its functionality and the purpose of the database for which it is built for, there may not little checks to ensure that the database doesn’t tend to do what is it not meant for.
2. Broken databases
As you may know, one of the major security breaches of all times, the SQL Slammer worm had infected about 90% of the computers which were vulnerable in less than 10 minutes of its deployment. It further took down thousands of databases in a matter of minutes. This worm was made by only taking advantage of a bug in Microsoft’s SQL Server.
Even though the bug was identified a year before the attack of SQL Slammer and the fix was released by Microsoft, only a few system administrators bothered about installing it, thereby leaving the systems vulnerable to an attack. This demonstrates how crucial it is for the admins to keep track of the security patches and fixes and install the same on time. Still, there are many businesses which do not stay then systems patched regularly and thereby leaving their most crucial databases vulnerable.
3. Data leaks
Databases are usually considered as the backend of the office applications and thought to be secured from the internet-based threats. With this assumption, many of the DBAs do not care about data encryption too. However, this is not the case in an actual situation. The modern-day databases also contain a networking interface, and the hackers can easily capture the traffic through it and find the loopholes to exploit the same. To avoid this pitfall, causing trouble to you, administrators should use encryption methods as with SSL- or TLS encryption platforms.
4. Stealing DB backups
Along with the external attackers who try to infiltrate into systems and steal the data, there can be inside people too who take part in the same. Studies conducted by RemoteDBA.com also suggest the fact that there is a higher percentage of cases where then insiders too are highly likely to steal the archived data, including the backups. It may be for money, profit, or even revenge. This is a very commonly reported problem in the modern-day enterprises, and the businesses who find a chance for this must consider encrypting their archives to mitigate this risk.
5. Abusing database features
A research report shows that the majority of the database exploitations they came across had been done by misusing the default database features. Say, for example, hackerscan quickly gain access by using legitimate credentials before forcing the system to run arbitrary code. Even though this process is involved, it can be done soon by a hacker by identifying the superficial flaws in the system which allows them to bypass the procedure thoroughly. Future scope of abuse can also be limited by shutting off all the unnecessary tools. Always shrink your surface area which hackers get to study and plan for an attack.
6. Lack of appropriate segregation
Logical separation of the user, developer, administrator privileges and segregation of duties to each type of users can make it difficult for the fraudsters to intrude into or steal the data. This is found to be a very effective method of limiting the scope of internal threats in terms of data security. Adding to it, limiting the powers of user accounts can give the external hackers a hard time to take full control of the protected database.
7. SQL injection
SQL injection is one of the most popular modes adopted by hackers to steal data and pose security threats to database systems. SQL injections remain the primary consideration of any DBA while addressing the security of enterprise databases. In this mode of attack, the databases are attacked by injections of malicious SQL queries. When the attack happens, database administrators are left only with the option to clean up the mess caused by the unclean variables and the malicious code which gets added to the strings. The best way to protect against such threats is to safeguard the web-facing database applications with the use of firewalls and test the input variables for SQL injection at the development phase itself.
Instead of taking advantage of buffer overflow and getting full database access at first, cybercriminals often indulge in a game of Hopscotch: looking for flaw within the infrastructure that they can use as control for more severe attacks till they get to the backend database system. For example, a hacker may worm their way through your accounts department before hitting the credit card processing arena. Unless every department has the same standard of control, creating separate administrator accounts and segregating systems can help mitigate the risk.
Along with the above common and crucial security vulnerabilities, critical management system errors and database inconsistencies etc. may also pose significant threats to database security. Database administrators should keep a close watch on all the latest database security threats which pop up from time to time and also need to install patches and fixes for the same on time to mitigate database security risks.