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Secure Data Protection

8 Database Security Best Practices to Know

March 15, 2022

5 minutes

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Database security is more important than ever, in large part because vulnerabilities are more exposed than ever.

The cyberthreat landscape of 2022 is dangerous. With more attacks than ever and a new surge of cybercrime in the wake of the pandemic, organizations—particularly small- and mid-sized businesses—find themselves uniquely susceptible to data breaches.

Because of this surge, there is now an increased emphasis on ensuring that systems are not compromised and information is kept safe.

56% of Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) fear they will experience a breach in the next year.

A combination of increased attacks, weak or non-existent security protocols, and a significantly larger proportion of SMBs handling sensitive information has led to a perfect storm from which cybercriminals are profiting.

In light of this, database security is crucial to observe.

This blog post will look at eight ways you can reinforce your database security to ensure you have the best shot at defending your network and databases.

Let’s jump in!

What Is Database Security?

Database security is a school of cybersecurity concerned with the solutions, protocols, and standards used to create and maintain database integrity and availability so that information can be handled safely.

Database security will focus on the following key areas:

  • Database management system (DBMS)
  • Software applications connected to databases Information contained in databases
  • Network infrastructure that is used by staff to access databases
  • Physical hardware and storage with databases

Database security involves many key elements found in information security (InfoSec), and must be conducted in a way that both protects the data while ensuring that users can use the information they need, when they need it.

8 Best Practices for Database Security

Without further ado, let’s jump into the eight practices central to a solid database security program.

Ensure databases on physical hardware are secured

While many organizations are shifting to the cloud, it’s common for businesses to maintain on-premise servers as part of a “hybrid” setup.

This essentially means maintaining some databases on the cloud while storing others (often more sensitive) on physical servers kept on-site.

It may sound obvious, but physical security for this information is important, and on-site access to them should be carefully monitored, ideally keeping hardware it in a locked server room so it’s not accessible by anyone.

Separate database servers

Where is your cloud and on-site data kept? There are advantages for accessibility in maintaining a single database for all information, but this of course means any malicious actor who gains access will have the keys to the entire kingdom.

Instead, consider splitting up sensitive data so that it is separated on different servers.

This way, if one is compromised, you will not expose all of your sensitive information, only a portion instead.

Install a proxy server that provides HTTPS access

Proxy servers help “weed” out unauthorized users by effectively acting as a secure gateway to the server.

A proxy can act like a firewall between a business’ internal systems and the public Internet.

Without them, hackers have easy access to the IP addresses of organizations, which they can use to infiltrate a computer or network and gain access in order to steal sensitive information.

Implement an encryption protocol

Encryption is extremely useful for companies looking to protect their data.

Encrypted data means that even if someone were to steal data, they would not be able to access it or make use of it in any way.

An example of this on a Windows system is Encrypting File System (EFS) tech. With EFS, only authorized users can access data, while unauthorized users (like cybercriminals who have infiltrated a network) cannot, even if they have full access to a network device.

Ensure your database is regularly backed up

Database security and secure backups go hand-in-hand.

Modern image-based systems for backing up mean that downtime is kept to an absolute minimum (often virtually zero with today’s Tier III and IV cloud data centers) should the primary database have to be shut down in the event of a breach.

Update applications on a regular basis

Zero-day cyberattacks are when a software exploit is discovered and taken advantage of by a cybercriminal before developers have a chance to patch it.

Once a vulnerability has been patched, developers will send out an update to users. If users do not update their applications, there is a far greater probability that they will be exposed to these zero-day exploits, and thus it is vital that apps are kept up to date.

Use strong authentication protocols

Human error is the leading cause of data breaches.

The use of modern authentication protocols like multifactor authentication (MFA) provides a simple and almost impenetrable way of securing information.

MFA typically requires two or more verification methods to sign-in to a system, like a phone code and password.

Microsoft found in its research that MFA could eliminate up to 99% of cyberattacks.

Ensure correct user access

User access is an important aspect of information security, and of database security, too.

Too often, businesses neglect to amend their user access standards, meaning very often users are authorized to access data when they needn’t be.

The result of this is that cybercriminals have a larger attack surface to target, as there are more users who have access to sensitive data.

Instead, organizations should maintain their database security by assigning access only to those who need it to perform their jobs—thus significantly reducing the attack surface and ensuring greater database integrity.

Bottom Line

Database security is more important today than it’s ever been for organizations, not least because of rising cyberattacks and a far higher volume of information being shared and handled through cloud applications.

Businesses should consider these best practices and ask themselves whether they are meeting the standards that will give them the best chance of protecting their systems.

If your company needs help with its database security, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our cybersecurity experts and discover what an MSSP can do for your business cybersecurity going forward.