5 tips for keeping your database secure 0 948

Secure database

5 tips for keeping your database secure

Of all East African countries, Kenya has the highest recorded monetary loss from cyber crime totaling $171 million last year. When it comes to database protection, there are steps and procedures that can be taken internally to minimize the risk of cyber crime. Over and above strong passwords, backing up data and using security applications, there are a number of additional precautions that can be taken.

Here are 5 key tips for keeping databases secure

  1. Control access to the database

Give access only to those who really need it and then limit their permissions and privileges.

THE MORE YOU LIMIT PERMISSIONS AND PRIVILEGES, THE BETTER

In addition to basic system permissions, you should also consider:

  • Limiting access to sensitive data for both users and procedures—in other words, only authorizing certain users and procedures to make queries relating to sensitive information.
  • Limiting the use of key procedures to specific users only.
  • Whenever possible, avoid simultaneous use and access outside normal or office hours.

It is also recommended to disable all services and procedures that are not in use, in order to prevent them from being attacked. In addition, whenever possible, the database should be located on a server that is not directly accessible from the internet, to avoid information being exposed to remote attackers.

  1. Identify sensitive and critical data

The first step, before considering protection techniques and tools, is to analyze and identify what important information must be protected. To do so, it is important to understand the logic and architecture of the database, to make it easier to determine where and how sensitive data will be stored.

Not all of the data we store is critical or needs protection, so it makes no sense to spend time and resources on this type of information.

We also recommend keeping an inventory of the company databases, being sure to take all departments into account. The only way to effectively administrate and avoid losing information is to know about all of the company’s instances and databases and keep a record of them.

What’s more, an inventory is particularly useful when doing an information backup, to avoid leaving critical data out of the scheme.

  1. Encrypt information

Once the sensitive and confidential data have been identified, it is good practice to use robust algorithms to encrypt that data.

When an attacker exploits a vulnerability and gains access to a server or system, the first thing they will try to steal is the databases. These are a valuable treasure, as they usually contain many gigabytes of valuable information; the best way to protect a database is to make it illegible to any person who accesses it without authorization.

  1. Anonymize non-productive databases

Many companies invest time and resources in protecting their productive databases, but when developing a project or creating a test environment, they simply make a copy of the original database and start to use it in environments that are much less tightly controlled, thus exposing all the sensitive information.

Masking, or anonymization, is a process through which a similar version is created, maintaining the same structure as the original but modifying the sensitive data so that it remains protected. With this technique, values are changed while maintaining the format.

The data can be changed in different ways: mixing it together, encrypting it, mixing up the characters or substituting words. The specific method used and the rules and formats that need to be respected will be up to the administrator, but whatever method is used, it must ensure that the process is irreversible; that is, no amount of reverse engineering will enable anyone to obtain the original data again.

This technique is especially used – and recommended – for databases that are part of a testing and development environment, because it allows you to preserve the logical structure of the data while ensuring that sensitive client information is not available outside the production environment.

  1. Monitor your database activity

Being aware of auditing and recording actions and data movement means that you know what information has been handled, when and how, and by whom. Having a complete history of transactions allows you to understand data access and modification patterns and thus avoid information leaks, control fraudulent changes and detect suspicious activity in real time.

Remember to follow these tips and be very careful when managing and protecting your databases. The information they hold is very valuable to the company and a very attractive prize for attackers, so it definitely deserves your full attention.

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Network security solutions’ value proposition to be found in improved insights 0 288

The work of a large company’s IT security experts consists of safeguarding the network, the business infrastructure and devices, and all the data processed by the company.

For example, if a business has 10,000 employees, each may use a laptop and/or a desktop, as well as a mobile device and will connect to a server. As such, the total number of devices utilized at an enterprise may be enormous. Alternatively, another company may have a small management cadre of 100, and 10,000 employees involved in production, retaining a relatively low number of endpoint devices, but numerous servers, a production line with its own operating system, and a number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. These may be used to monitor product distribution or production, for example to monitor dairy cows and the tracking of cattle. 

In both cases, the devices used are connected to a corporate network, and as such, IT security experts understand that maintaining protection for all of these devices, the corporate network and stored data is very complicated. They also concede that company security is at risk of being breached, either via a mistake, the negligence of an employee, or due to some form of cyber-attack.

Industry consensus shows that it takes about 150-200 days before companies discover that cyberattackers have impacted their businesses in some way. Such a discovery is followed by an investigation into how malicious code entered the company’s network and what damage it has caused. It may be the case that a company never gets answers to these questions.

When less is more
In many cases ESET has encountered companies simultaneously running a large number of agents up to  an incredible 15 to 17 on their network and devices in an attempt to achieve maximum coverage. However, the utilization of a large number of agents, often sometimes from different vendors, creates an environment where they do not play well together. This can have a significant negative impact on system performance, security, and the workload of IT staff who are tasked with managing it all.

As a consequence of this complexity, companies have been experiencing increased pressure on their IT security resources, higher costs and increased risk exposure. Under such conditions they (usually) try to evolve towards reducing the number of agents by choosing platforms where multiple agents can be managed from a single dashboard.

To better meet this need ESET has continued to adapt solutions like ESET Remote Administrator, which was originally designed for the remote management of endpoint device security. Increasing market demand for deeper insight and further security capability has helped give rise to a new product: ESET Security Management Center (ESMC). The new name better reflects the actual functionality of the console.

This solution consolidates the management of a number of powerful technologies into a single dashboard that can increase visibility into the state of the system. This includes, cloud sandbox and also covers ESET Endpoint protection platform for endpoint devices with a wide range of detection technologies, from UEFI protection to ransomware shield.

ESMC is able to provide an administrator with a lot of information on the hardware of individual computers, such as device type, manufacturer, model, serial number, processor, RAM, and disc space. It also monitors all installed software and version numbers, providing the companies deploying the solution comprehensive and clear insight into all devices, hardware, software, and potential security incidents.

Shortage of IT security specialists? Outsourcing security services may be an option 0 273

Research shows that the East Africa is facing a critical shortage of IT specialists. Another standout issue relates to the low proportion of security experts among IT specialists. Kenya is reported to have only 1700 certified cyber security professionals showing a huge skills gap for large businesses requiring these skills. This industry-wide issue can be confirmed by ESET, challenges shared by companies we have business relationships with and as a conclusion of our ongoing market research.

“Finding good IT specialists is difficult enough but finding good security experts is almost like a Sci-Fi Fantasy,” explains Michal Jankech, Chief Product Manager, ESET. Security experts must have very comprehensive knowledge, however, there are too few of them and their numbers may actually decrease further due to a lack of understanding about their importance to core IT practice.

The “neurosurgeons” of IT specialists

Let’s make a comparison to healthcare specialists. Assume an IT specialist is the equivalent of a general practitioner (GP), then a cybersecurity expert represents a neurosurgeon. IT specialists primarily support an organization’s business, but also help protect corporate networks by setting up hardware and checking basic security settings, functions, and automatic alerts. However, there are many situations where a technical or business need arises that may have a security impact that must be assessed by a security expert. These can include: advanced security settings, enabling remote access and management of IT systems, use of collaborative tools, cloud accessibility, use of encryption and or two factor authentication, as well as managing and securing collected data. To address these and other areas, experts need specialized knowledge and tailor fit tools that assist them tin securing the network, and both searching for and detecting suspicious activities and behaviors.

“It is similar to a GP referring a patient to a neurologist, then on to a neurosurgeon, who then examines a CT scan of the brain and decides whether a suspicious object is a blood vessel or may be something worse. Subsequent analyses determine further diagnostic methods to determine whether the object in question is a blood vessel or a tumor,” Jankech says, describing the work of a security expert

Security services outsourcing—a way forward

According to Jankech, one reason for the lack of such a skill set on the labor market may be the fact that globally, education systems have failed to adapt to the wide gap between supply and demand of such specialized skills. In the past, many countries provided top-level education in various engineering disciplines, but now the market needs top-level IT and more specifically IT security education. But there are simply too few schools and not enough training institutions focusing on the education of security experts.

ESET’s response to the situation has been to invest in an extended offer of security products and services for businesses and organizations. These include ESET Security Management Centre and ESET Dynamic Threat Defense.

ESET Security Management Center provides real-time visibility for on-premise and off-premise endpoints as well as full reporting for ESET enterprise-grade solutions from a single pane of glass securely deployed on premise or in cloud.

ESET Dynamic Threat Defense provides another layer of security for ESET products like Mail Security and Endpoint products by utilizing a cloud-based sandboxing technology to detect new, never before seen type of threats. 

Security services for specific corporate needs

At ESET, we know that every company and organization is unique. Therefore, our service offers are configured on needs-based analysis and provide recommendations on what is appropriate for the business in terms of its physical capabilities, network topology, etc. This enables us to cover all the needs of large companies across a wide range of industries.