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Data Breach On The Horizon: Best Practices to Protect Your Assets [McAfee]

Client Computing | Posted on August 9, 2012 by Melissa Alvares

It happened to Sony in 2011, and LinkedIn this spring. It’s no secret that data breaches are on the rise. Database security is phenomenally critical to a company’s overall health. A serious breach can result in extreme monetary damage composed of bad publicity, noncompliance fines and business disruption. It can tarnish the reputation of even the most wildly successful organization.

Database security is becoming increasingly complex. One of the reasons for this is that the typical hacker profile has changed dramatically in recent years. Hackers were once thought to be gifted loners only seeking mischief and mayhem. Today, that image has evolved into far more sophisticated organized crime rings of cyberfraud professionals. Their work is long-term focused and is far more damaging. They seek financial gain rather than mischief, and their stealthy tendency leaves no trace of their presence.

Security threats are not limited to external agents – internal users are guilty too. A 2012 study by Ponemon Institute, Aftermath of Data Breach, identified insiders and third parties as most common causes of data breaches. Of incidents that were successfully traced to a root cause, 34 percent were attributed to negligent insiders, 19 percent traced to third-party data outsourcers, and 16 percent to malicious insiders.

With these sophisticated threats created by well-hidden, brilliant professionals ever evolving, mutilating, and knocking at your door, what are the best practices to keep your database security in check?

  1. Integrate security into everything you do. Start with application development and begin on everyday tasks like user and data management. Educate your users to think in the same way.
  2. Apply the last privilege principle. On a need-to-use-basis, only give users and applications the privileges necessary to fill their roles. Think carefully before granting any privileges to any user.
  3. Minimize the attack surface. Don’t give intruders more opportunity to enter. Install only the components your application requires and eliminate anything that’s not in use. Keep the system simple and the surface small.
  4. Encrypt, but don’t go overboard. People usually jump on encryption as a first resort with security data, and although it is certainly recommended for sensitive data, it is costly and difficult to manage. Only encrypt sensitive data that requires it, and be careful how you manage encryption/decryption keys and change them on a regular basis.
  5. Invest in ALL your environments. While most organizations invest efforts in securing their production databases, many neglect to do so in development, testing and staging environments. Non-production environments should be treated with the same tools and procedures as production environments to ensure the tightest seal against security risk.

Base your database security solution on defined rules and policies

With ever-mounting regulatory, governance and compliance obligations, it is important for companies to comply with a host of regulatory requirements, or be faced with massive fines and civil penalties. Fortunately, companies can address the regulatory burden as well as their business security requirements by aligning the two polices together.

Based on defined rules and policies, McAfee’s Database Activity Monitoring solution screens all database activity in real time. It is the only database monitoring solution that monitors all database activities and provides protection against insiders with privileged access. The design is non-intrusive, easy to install, and sustainably consumes only small amounts of CUP resources.

The McAfee Practical Guide to Database Security takes a deeper dive into today’s database security management requirements, the key advantaged of McAfee Database Activity Monitoring, and how you can integrate your businesses’ security needs with regulatory compliance requirements.

Security is on everyone’s priority list these days. For best-of-breed advice and latest recommendations, check out our Ultimate Security Guide.

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