Database

6 Tips To Fortify Your Database Protection Measures

Cyber attacks are becoming more widespread and sophisticated. Security data showed 1,767 publicly reported data breaches in the first half of 2021, exposing around 18.8 billion records.

If you don’t have robust protection measures to secure your database, you could end up as another statistic—with your critical business and customer data exposed and potentially exploited.

The good news is that you can strengthen your database protection and improve cybersecurity in your business with these six tips.

1. Use Separate Database Servers.

Storing your business-critical data on the same server as your website can expose your database to various attack vectors designed to target sites.

For instance, attackers could compromise your website and move laterally within your network to slip through your database.

Attacks that breach your online platform can also allow attackers to access your database, making it vulnerable to data breaches.

Mitigate this security risk and strengthen your database protection by keeping your database servers separate from your website and ecommerce platform servers.

Consider keeping your database servers on separate physical machines and avoid connecting them to other servers and apps.

Doing so helps secure your database, and you avoid losing everything in one swoop in case it gets compromised.

You can also leverage a reliable Security Information and Event Monitoring (SIEM) solution to promptly detect and analyze potential security threats and attempted breaches.

It helps you get real-time alerts and take immediate action to prevent potential attacks before they cause severe damage.

2. Skip Using Default Network Ports

Transmitting data between servers requires using Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP).

When set up, the protocols automatically use default network ports. Attackers often target these ports because they’re familiar and often left open.

Cybercriminals use automated brute force attacks to try every username and password combination to gain access to your database.

Ensure your ports are closed unless you use them for documented, reviewed, and approved active business cases.

Change your database default ports to help prevent your database server and network from getting exposed or compromised by automated cyber-attacks.

It’s also crucial to check the port registry from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to ensure the new port you assign is not used for other services.

3. Configure An HTTPS Proxy Server

Proxy servers examine requests sent from workstations before accessing database servers. As such, the servers act as gatekeepers designed to prevent unauthorized submissions.

Proxy servers are commonly based on Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).

However, you’ll get better protection when setting up a Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) server to handle sensitive data such as payment information, passwords, and other sensitive details.

HTTPS encrypts data moving through the proxy server, giving your confidential information and database an additional layer of security.

4. Set Up Strong User Authentication

In 2021, Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) states that compromised passwords caused 80% of data breaches.

The figure highlights how using passwords alone, including weak passwords and human error, can compromise your business-critical information and databases.

Besides passwords, include an additional security layer to your database by setting up Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

MFA is an authentication process that requires users to provide two (or more) verification factors to access their apps, online accounts, databases, etc., on top of their username and password.

While multifactor authentication isn’t meant to be a perfect solution, the security protocol does provide an added difficulty for attackers, reducing unauthorized access and data breaches.

5. Secure User Access To Your Database

Keep the number of people with access to your database to a minimum. Doing so helps you better control, monitor, and minimize potential unauthorized access.

You can give administrators the bare minimum privileges necessary to perform their roles and only during periods when they need access.

While this might not always be practical for small teams with ten or fewer employees, the least you can do is manage permissions using roles or groups instead of granting direct access.

If you have a large team, use access management software to automate managing your database access.

The software can grant authorized users temporary passwords with the required privileges each time they access your database.

It can also log the activities during the access period, which can help prevent administrators and other users from sharing passwords, improving your database security.

Besides using access management software, implement the following best practices to secure your database access.

  • Enforce creating strong passwords
  • Ensure password hashes are stored salted and encrypted
  • Automatically lock accounts after three or four failed login attempts.
  • Implement policies and procedures that ensure accounts are deactivated when the employee using the account leaves or moves to another role

6. Use multiple firewalls

Firewalls add first layer protection for your database security framework by denying traffic by default.

However, using only one firewall isn’t always enough protection for your database since it won’t stop Structured Query Language (SQL) injection attacks.

Most SQL injection attacks come from permitted web apps, allowing cybercriminals to compromise or delete your database information undetected.

The solution? Add more than one firewall, starting with the following:

  • Packet filter firewall. This type of firewall controls incoming and outgoing network data flows. The security mechanism allows the packets’ movements across your network, controlling their flow based on rules, IP addresses, ports, and protocols.
  • Stateful packet inspection. Dynamic packet filtering or stateful inspection is a firewall technology that tracks the active connections’ state. Then, it uses the information to determine the network packets to allow through the firewall.
  • Proxy server firewall. The proxy firewall, an application or gateway firewall, is a network security system that filters messages at the app layer to protect network resources.

Configure your firewalls properly and update them regularly to ensure they work and help protect your network and database.

Strengthen Your Database Security

Improving your database protection measures helps secure it from common cyberattacks.

However, it requires using the right strategies, tools, and resources—from using isolated servers to deploying multiple firewalls—to help mitigate risks that lead to data breaches and exploitation.

While data breaches are becoming more frequent and common, maintaining healthy database security protocols can help prevent hackers from carrying out successful attacks.

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