11 Steps to 'Save the Database, Save the World'
Insurance Experts' Forum, June 3, 2011
Save the Database, Save the World. That's the title of John Ottman's new book on database security in the great age of insecurity. Ottman, who is president and CEO of Application Security, Inc., has seen and heard more than his share about the failings of data security in enterprises, and his words are something from which members of an information-intensive industry as insurance can benefit.
Here's the challenge we face: more than 10 million databases across the globe remain largely unprotected, and more than 200 million records are breached every year. And the biggest threat isn't those teenage hackers from Belarus or government agents from a hostile power – organizations need to defend their data assets against internal threats, not only disaffected workers but also trusted administrators who hold the keys.
But there are things we can do to protect the data under our control. It's called security, risk and compliance (SRC) controls, and is based on an enterprise solution architecture that enables cross-platform management from a single console, as well as a cross-platform solution architecture with the following elements:
1. Asset management: “producing a list of database assets may seem an academic exercise, but most organizations do not have a reliable process of database inventory control.”
2. Sensitive data discovery: “Sensitive data must be accurate, fully documented, and false positive identifications must be avoided.”
3. Policy management: “the policy management application is the heart of the database SRC platform and automates the classification process in a consistent fashion.”
4. Vulnerability management: “The vulnerability assessment application performs an agentless scan of database settings, entitlements, passwords, and configurations.”
5. Threat knowledgebase: “Upon discovery of new vulnerabilities, the threat knowledgebase provides reference for the SRC team to make impact and severity assessments and prioritize remediation activity.”
6. User rights management: “helps organizations establish separation of duty control and provision user rights and entitlements according to the principle of lest privilege across all enterprise databases.”
7. Configuration management: “allows organizations to create baseline configurations as standard, policy-based builds.”
8. Data masking: “technique used to to substitute confidential information with fictionalized data.”
9. Encryption: “intuitively an important database SRC solution,” but managing this process may be subject to “excessive management overhead and complexity... Encryption policies must be application aware, and managed consistently to ensure data processing continuity.”
10. Audit and threat management: “a forensic process to manage and track all activity in the database.”
11. Analytics: “ultimately, the solution value of the database SRC is realized through effective reporting.”
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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