The software supply chain and general data architecture have had quite a tumultuous few years. It seems we can’t go more than a few months without another major exploit like Log4J or OpenSSL revealing itself and negatively impacting the industry.
With security attack vectors seemingly becoming more common, businesses around the world are looking for ways to protect themselves in the long run. Numerous best practices should be followed when dealing with the software supply chain, with bodies like OpenChain providing documentation for people to follow.
Yet, one area that is still being overlooked is database compliance. Considering that there were over 422 million individuals impacted by data compromises, leaks, and breaches in 2022 alone, it’s vital that your business starts paying attention to how to best secure its databases.
Ensure Secure Coding Is a Priority
When faced with the choice of completing code in the easiest way possible or the most secure way possible, most developers will, unfortunately, opt for the first. In an economic climate that values speed and endless productivity, it’s easy to forget about those final security details. If you think this is common in your business, then this should be a primary habit you must stomp out.
The vast majority of database breaches are exposed due to vulnerabilities in the code used to secure them. If an attacker can gain access to your database, they can inject SQL that can then tamper with your systems and lead to a data breach. However, if you begin to engage with higher levels of database compliance, ensuring that your developers follow secure coding practices, you’ll be able to neutralize this threat almost entirely.
For example, your developers could include binding variables within any SQL statements that they use. Although this takes more time and will slow down your overall production, it will completely prevent any SQL injections from occurring. A little extra effort will go a long way. Be sure to reward your developers for these extra efforts instead of placing too much focus on speed.
Manage User Access
No user, no matter how versed in internet security and how well they understand the best username and password practices, is invulnerable to cyber-attacks. If an attacker can gain entry into the system through one of your employees’ accounts, then they could start to take your data hostage before you have time to respond.
To prevent this from leading to a major data breach event, you should take time to set up user access policies within your business. By restricting the access that each user has within your databases, a hacker would be limited if they were to gain access.
This is especially important if your business regularly hires temporary workers and uses remote systems. Giving users from around the world remote access to your servers may help you during projects, but don’t then forget to remove their access once you’re done.
Ensure that you have established policies around user access and that you then adhere to them. Equally, make sure that the databases that you use fall under regulation from the governance area that you’re in. For example, you need to be careful when holding user data that you’re not invalidating any of the database compliance rules set out in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Train Your Staff
No matter how effective the policies that you have in place are, they’re invalid if you don’t actively teach your staff about their existence and why they should follow them. In almost every area of digital security, the biggest liability is always human error. If your team doesn’t even know which errors they’re committing, how are they meant to overcome them in the first place?
Whenever a new employee joins your company, you should always spend time giving them a complete briefing on the compliance and security policies that you have in place. This education should also extend to secure coding if they’re set to work in software development or data architecture.
Utilize Database and Web Application Firewalls
Firewalls are one of the best defense mechanisms against database breaches. They create an additional layer of protection that will help slow down attackers and reduce threats that target your business. You should be using firewalls all across your business, from your server complex to securing individual email accounts.
Equally, wherever you can, the implementation of WAF (web application firewall) will help increase the overall scope of your database security. WAFs will block any hacking attempts while also continually monitoring user access to all of your web applications. The logs that these build up can become vital in defending against an attack and identifying malicious users.
Beyond that, WAFs are also phenomenal for database compliance as they provide an ongoing record for your business.
Database compliance and security are not areas in which your business should skimp out. While it may seem like data breaches only happen to massive companies, they can happen to anyone at any time. And, considering that the vast majority of small and medium-sized businesses don’t recover from a data breach, this is an area that should be your top priority.
Security is always a moving goalpost. You’ll never be completely ready or finished with securing your databases. That said, by incorporating these four practices into your operations, you’ll be in a much better position to keep your data safe. With that, you’ll be protecting your business, your employees, and all of your customers.