Alex Migutsky

Alex Mihutski

Head of Database Migration Department, Ispirer Systems

In 2024, cybersecurity is more important than ever. Statistics confirm that the number of cybercrimes is growing every year. The emergence of LLM has assisted in simplifying and accelerating many business-critical tasks, which is a definite advantage. However, this is a double-edged sword. Models are also often used by cybercriminals to get sensitive data about an organization.

How to ensure the best security for the most valuable company asset - data? Read on as we explore the best techniques to safeguard the sensitive data and protect your business.

Why is Database Security important?

Database security refers to an information security methodology that includes tools, controls and processes that serve for establishing database integrity, confidentiality and availability. Database security measures serve to ensure that the database is protected from leaks, unauthorized access, and data theft.

An exposure of sensitive data is always devastating for an organization. The level of damage can be determined by several factors:

  • Compromised intellectual property. A company's intellectual property, trade secrets, and inventions must remain secret in order to maintain a competitive advantage. When it's compromised, competitors may gain access to proprietary information, processes, or technologies, diminishing the business's competitive advantage.
  • Damage to brand reputation. Trust is the foundation of any business. If buyers doubt the reliability of an organization, they are unlikely to make a purchase and will most likely go to competitors who provide a decent level of reliability. In general, almost 80% of consumers would prefer to move their business anywhere rather than expose it to the risk of a data leak.
  • Fines or penalties for non-compliance. The financial impact for failing to comply with global regulations can be severe. For example, violation of regional data privacy regulations, such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the worst cases exceeds several million dollars per violation.

Ensuring database security should be a number one priority for organizations today. Let’s dive in and explore the most effective security measures that can help to ensure database protection in more detail.

Keep servers located separately

Are you still storing your data and website on the same server? Houston, we have a problem. The fact is that if your site is hacked by cybercriminals, they will be able to gain access to the database in no time.

The only correct option is to store data on different servers that are not connected to each other. It is better to put the database on a different server, cloud server, or container. This way, if the app or website is hacked, attackers won't get into the database.

Database encryption is a key

Encrypting your data is crucial for various reasons. It keeps your secrets safe, protects user data, defends against ransomware, and follows data privacy laws like GDPR. Using data encryption protocols lowers the chance of a data breach. This keeps your data safe even if cybercriminals get access.

Encrypting all database connections with the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol guarantees data protection during transit. Additionally, encrypting disks containing a data store is essential to prevent data loss or theft. This comprehensive approach ensures that your data remains secure both at rest and in transit, addressing vulnerabilities effectively.

Strengthen Data Security with Effective User Authentication

Single-factor authentication is considered to be an unsafe method of securing accounts. Creating a multi-factor authentication is a bare minimum that is suggested even for social media accounts. It is accepted as the standard for protecting databases as well.

Database authentication entails verifying the identities of users or service accounts seeking access to the database. Given the vital importance of databases in most scenarios, robust authentication measures should always be implemented.

Whenever feasible, employing two-factor authentication - combining a password or PIN with a physical item owned by the user, such as a security token or mobile phone - enhances security further. What is more, let verified IP addresses only access the database to reduce the risk of a possible breach. Even though IP addresses can be copied or masked, it requires additional effort.

Discover sensitive data

When it comes to keeping our data safe, there's a crucial step we often overlook: keeping our testing environments separate from production. Physically segregating these spaces erects a formidable barrier around our sensitive data, bolstering protection against potential breaches. Moreover, it is imperative to restrict access to production databases solely to those with a genuine need. Test environments should not contain real production data. Instead, you should create synthetic or anonymized datasets to enable testing on realistic data.

When transitioning data from testing to production, meticulous oversight is essential to prevent the infiltration of bugs or vulnerabilities. These measures underscore our commitment to maintaining the integrity and security of our data assets.

Create backups and rest easy

Backing up your database is important to protect important information in case of system failures or cyberattacks. This ensures that the information remains safe and accessible. Thus, a malicious attack or data corruption cannot lead to the loss of sensitive information.

With backups in place, organizations can swiftly recover lost or corrupted data, minimizing downtime and mitigating potential financial losses. Moreover, backups offer a layer of defense against ransomware attacks, providing a means to restore operations. Investing in strong backup plans is important for protecting databases, as it helps maintain their integrity and ability to recover from problems.

Ensure physical database security

Recommendations for ensuring physical security may seem trivial. But don't underestimate this point. It is extremely important to ensure limited access to the premises where the servers are stored. This also applies to the fact that it is necessary to have a team that monitors the security and reliability of server equipment.

An essential part of keeping our data safe involves having backup plans in case something goes wrong. In case of storing data on external devices, keep in mind that all backups should also be encrypted. Some encryption tools even allow for data to be processed and searched without decryption so that the data always remains encrypted and protected.

Real-time database monitoring

Database security is all about remaining vigilant. The more you monitor, the less you miss. With reliable real-time monitoring software, you can conduct the following security measures:

  • Monitor all operating system login attempts
  • Periodic reviews of all logs to check for oddities
  • Create alerts to notify the security team of any potential threat or suspicious behavior
  • Devise escalation protocols to ensure your sensitive data remains safe in the event of an attack

Update your software and operating system

The best security tools and strategies can be undermined by poor maintenance. All systems, applications, tools, and firmware should be monitored for newly released patches or disclosed vulnerabilities. Critical systems, such as those connecting to database systems, should be prioritized for regular patch management and vulnerability management. Software supply chain components, such as open source libraries, should also be tracked and addressed for vulnerabilities and updates.

The same goes for databases. If your database is no longer supported, then it's worth upgrading to a new solution. If you have a legacy database, it is probably worth transferring it to a more modern database management system. For example, migrating Informix to Oracle is an excellent way of getting an up-to-date solution that complies with modern security standards.

Conduct database auditing

Database auditing is a significant aspect of data security that allows you to monitor user activity, detect potential threats, ensure regulatory compliance, and track changes.

To quickly respond to every potential data breach, companies should conduct security audits regularly. Regular database audits help to identify anomalies, which may indicate malicious or unauthorized activity, and take prompt action to prevent potential data breach.

Bottom line: Database Security Best Practices

Cybercrime is all around us. In order to avoid falling for the bait of scammers, do not underestimate the importance of database security measures. By following the measures we have described in this article, you can eliminate the risks associated with the security of your database. And remember that stable operation of your business directly depends on your ability to analyze, identify and eliminate blind spots in your database security practice on a regular basis.