Database Crime Scene Prevention

Imperva's Amichai Shulman looks at database attack and defense.

A good detective understands the criminal mind, techniques, and tools of the trade. To protect your database and prevent it from becoming a crime scene, it is crucial to understand the common methods of attack, data theft, and cover up techniques. The suspect line-up can come from outside hackers and from within the ranks of trusted employees, contractors, and partners. Some threats are easily prevented or contained; while others more elusive. Fortunately, many of the security mechanisms and tools required to protect databases are readily available.

This article examines known attacks, methods, and tools used by criminals, as well as emerging exploit categories used to break into a database, establish control, compromise the system, steal the data, and cover up the tracks. We will also cover best practices for protecting databases against these attacks methods.

The database server as a target

Given the wealth of information stored in databases and its value on the open market, it is no surprise that databases are a primary target of criminals. The personal, identity, trade, and military data contained in many repositories can fetch top dollar. Meanwhile, employment instability, mergers, acquisitions, etc., can also contribute to insider data theft. In addition, data can leak out accidentally and though these acts are not criminal, they can result in severe data breaches.

It can be said that the database server provides an attacker with the perfect criminal opportunity, combining motive (the resale value of the information), means (easily available tools), and opportunity (direct access to the server through thick client-applications, lax internal network controls and ill written applications).

The Five-Step Program

Before attempting to implement effective database security, it is crucial to understand the processes that lead to a breach. These processes can be broken down into five basic steps:

  • 1. Tools of the Trade

  • 2. Initial Access

  • 3. Privilege Abuse

  • 4. Privilege Elevation

  • 5. Covering the Tracks

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags databasecybercrime

More about ADCCrucialExcelIPSMicrosoftOpen MarketOraclePLUS

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Amichai Shulman

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place