Simple Tactics That Make Your Database More Secure
In today’s digital environment, technology has provided us with nearly limitless opportunities for growth, innovation, and sustainability. Databases are one of many ways we have leveraged technology to help better serve our business processes and goals. By saving time in how long it takes to access information, and saving money in how that information is stored, databases have long been integral to how organizations conduct and organize their business. However, these databases require proper planning to ensure their security and proper functionality.
Why is Database Security so Important?
Insights from RiskIQ found that approximately every 40 seconds, one organization around the world falls victim to a ransomware scam, costing more than $15,000 on average. Upon a simple Google search, you can find in 2018 alone Ontario saw a total of 4 Ransomware attacks where organizations had their data stolen and were required to pay out the hackers to regain access. Both Wasaga Beach and Midland fell victim to an attack that costed them north of $250,000. In addition to those incidents, 2 Ontario Children’s Aid Societies also experienced ransomware attacks costing one of the 2 organizations $5,000. But these are just the attacks that we hear about, according to Symantec General Manager, Ajay Sood “What you’re seeing in the news is a very small part of what has occurred. It’s a small percentage of what’s being reported, a smaller percentage of what’s being detected and an even smaller percentage of what’s been occurring,”
Due to a growing presence of hackers with an entrepreneurial attitude, people have been becoming more vigilant and proactive in regard to their data protection. So, one questions remains: what can you do to protect yourself? Luckily, there are some really easy steps you can take to make sure your data is secure.
Touched upon in one of our previous blogs, ensuring your devices and software are all up-to-date is a simple but important way to make sure you are protected against any data or security breaches. Most software updates regardless of system or device provide vital security improvements. Primarily, it protects your data and private information better than the previous version. However, maintaining updates isn’t just about protecting yourself, but your network too. Security breaches don’t only impact your devices, but others, as you can be used as a medium to spread malware, spyware, trojans, etc. throughout your organizational network.
Encrypt Your Data
For those of you who may not be familiar with encryption, it is a process that codes data or information in such a way that ensures only those with authorization can gain access to it. A common complaint about encryption, however, is that if the encryption code for an encrypted database is lost, the data is often unrecoverable. If you are currently looking into an encrypted solution, or have had your interest peaked, I have linked to an article outlining the top 10 enterprise encryption products for your convenience.
Control Access and Permissions
Managing who has access to what data in your organization is another key component of ensuring the security of your database. By controlling permissions, you obtain more control over your data while making it easier to track where breaches could have originated from. By assigning roles in your system, users will only have access to the data that is pertinent to their position, meaning your data is that much safer from falling into the wrong hands.
Here are some best practices for maintaining secure access:
- Replace all default passwords upon installation—ensure they are unique and secure.
- Remove user accounts that are no longer being used. If they are currently not in use but will be in the future, you can lock them instead to retain future access.
- Rotate You should be periodically changing passwords, and ensuring they are strong and secure – avoid passwords with personal meaning such as birthdays or names, they can easily be hijacked by a simple Google search or review of your social media profiles.
- Designate admins so that regular users do not have the ability to change integral settings or procedures that could impact the security of your system.
- Limit login attempts. If a user tries more than 3 times to login unsuccessfully, the account should be locked down until an administrator can determine the problem and identity of the person trying to log in. Which leads perfectly into our next point.
Data Security Policies
Data-security policies set a standard within your organization and provide guidelines for employees to follow that will help ensure the security of your proprietary data. These policies make sure all staff are on board and not accessing data from unsecured devices, or sharing data with unauthorized individuals. Data-security policies should also include regular vulnerability checks, and incident response guidelines to allow for a consistent and effective response to breaches. Security Magazine has outlined 9 critical elements for corporate data security policies that will help enforce the privacy of your data. You can check that out here.
Another good practice to get in the habit of is monitoring database activity. Who is accessing which data from what device and when can provide much-needed transparency into the state and security of your system. By auditing logins, you make it easier to identify unusual activity and pinpoint where breaches may have occurred. Most importantly, it empowers you to see when account information is being shared, and when new accounts have been created.
Back-Up and Recovery
Last, but certainly not least is the practice of backing up your data for recovery. Making sure every day that your systems and data are backed up on a separate drive is crucial in case of data loss, or data hijacking. If a cyber-attack leaves you with your data hijacked, you may find yourself at the mercy of a hacker’s ransom request, but if you have a backup, you can still access your data without having to pay-out. Secondarily, if data corruption renders your data inaccessible, you can revert back to an earlier version of the system and recover your vital data before it got corrupted.
Although cybercrimes have grown in frequency in recent years, that doesn’t mean you are helpless to prevent them. There are various practices as well as services that can be implemented to help maintain the security of your organizational systems and data. If your business is heavily reliant on software and databases like many today are, make sure you stay knowledgeable and up to date on best security practices, practices, or reach out to us if you have questions regarding database security. With our nearly 30 years experience in software development, we know a thing or two about maintaining a secure database.
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