Database Security for your SaaS Products


Database Security


Databases are the primary containers of data. Be it user profiles, financial details, or any other sensitive data, databases typically house most of the data in an organizational or personal environment. Due to the fact that databases contain sensitive data, they are commonly targeted by cyber-criminals. As a result of the high rate of database targeted cyber attacks, the industry is required to provide the necessary tools and best practices for database security.

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What is Database Security?

Database security spans a set of tools, practices, and controls that are designed to ensure the integrity, privacy, confidentiality, and availability of a database system. A reliable database security solution must consider the following domains:

    • Database Management System or DBMS
    • Data in the Database
    • Computing and/or network traffic and infrastructure that has any sort of access to the database
    • Any associated applications
    • The physical and/or virtual database server and its underlying infrastructure

Common Threats to Database Systems

There are several reasons why data in the database can be compromised. Down below are some of the most common threats that haunt the database systems:

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Exploitation of Database Software Vulnerabilities

As with any software, a database is also not perfect. Whenever there are vulnerabilities on a system, malicious users do their part to find them and exploit them. Although database system developers actively push patches to fix vulnerabilities, it is up to the consumers how quickly they update these patches.

Human Error

Even humans are also not perfect and can make mistakes from time to time. Using weak passwords, accidentally sharing private credentials, or any other unwise and uninformed actions by humans can compromise databases.

Insider Threats

An insider threat occurs when a database is compromised by someone who appears to be an authentic user. It does not necessarily mean that a particular user has backstabbed the organization. Rather, it can be one of the following three possibilities:

    • An infiltrator, who is actually an outsider but somehow got legit credentials, and got access to the database.
    • Any human error that led to potential database exploit.
    • An insider that really backstabbed the organization.

SQL/NoSQL Injection Attacks

SQL/NoSQL is one of the most prevalent cyber attacks that are specifically targeted towards databases. These types of attacks are orchestrated by putting arbitrary SQL or NoSQL strings into database queries to make databases leak sensitive data that they shouldn’t. The HTTP headers and web applications are usually abused for these kinds of attacks.

DoS/DDoS Attacks

Denial of service/distributed denial of service, commonly known as DoS/DDoS, is among the most effective tools in cyber criminals’ arsenal. A DoS attack occurs when a database server is overwhelmed by so many bulk queries that it is unable to satisfy legitimate queries, affecting its availability. A DDoS works in a similar way, but the attacker sends the requests from multiple nodes so that countering it is even more difficult.


Malware is any piece of code that can harm the software systems by exploiting vulnerabilities present in them. Malware can harm the database system through any connected end-point.

Common Database Security Practices

In a report by Risk Based Security , nearly 36 billion records were exploited by cyber-criminals between January and September of 2020. These statistics certainly raise concerns among major enterprises about deploying effective database security solutions. An effective database solution involves both physical and logical protection along with awareness on the part of employees. Here are some must implement database security practices:

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Physical Database security

Datacenters are where the database servers are physically located. An organization should ensure that the physical security of the datacenter is strong enough to stop unauthorized persons. Slacking here means a cyber-criminal can physically access your databases to steal sensitive information.

Set up an HTTPS Proxy Server

The purpose of an HTTPS proxy server is to verify the integrity of requests sent to the database server. HTTP servers are usually used for this purpose, but they are vulnerable if you are dealing with sensitive data. An HTTPS server provides additional security by encrypting sensitive information.

Real-Time Database Monitoring

Real-time database monitoring enables you to identify vulnerabilities in your database system and patch them in a timely manner. Ensure the security of your database system by directing the IT team of your organization to conduct scheduled penetration tests. There are also a variety of software tools available in the market for the active scanning of database systems.

Keeping Applications Up-to-Date

Despite the fact that updating is a simple task, people are lazy when it comes to updating their software environment. In a WordPress Report , it shows that 17,383 plugins have not been updated by users for the past two years. You can’t benefit from a security solution properly when you don’t update the patch that was meant to fix a security problem. Besides security patches, updates also contain new features and fixes.

Database and Application Firewalls

A firewall governs network traffic by blocking or allowing it based on predetermined policies. The firewall is the first line of defense that protects not only your network but also your database.

Strong Authentication

The database should always require strong authentication, and access should only be allowed from the local server. According to a Verizon’s report , around 80% of data thefts result from compromised passwords. To ensure proper security of the database, it should be

    • Protected with strong passwords
    • Configured with minimum permissions
    • Configured to be used by only a single application or service

Transport Layer Protection

Most of the databases are configured to send unencrypted network connections by default. There are some databases that do encrypt some initial authentications, but the rest of the connections are left unencrypted. Your database must be configured in the following way

    • The database only accepts encrypted requests
    • Client applications are configured with TLSv1.2+
    • Verify a digital certificate’s validity through the client application
    • Installation of trusted digital certificates on the server

Final Words

Securing a database system is both a critical and an essential task. Every organization seeks security solutions and practices to secure its database system against fast-growing cyber threats. Fortunately, this is not something very difficult to achieve. Utilizing some practices and tools and AI (Artificial Intelligence) can help you build a reliable and secure database system.