Application Security // Database Security
8/9/2011
03:24 PM
Adrian Lane
Adrian Lane
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Data Breaches On The Rise?

Nope -- but publicity is

Sony data breaches. 35 Million Korean users. Bet24. The Sun. Exxon. And too many universities and small banks to list.

While it looks like database compromises are on the rise, in my opinion they are not. If you look at DATALOSSdb, there are the same number of breaches as there have been in previous years. From personal experience, I can tell you there were a lot of unreported breaches as well.

In the 2004-2007 time frame, I was asked into many different Fortune 1000 firms, under NDA, to assist companies reassess and implement new database security measures. And you would be shocked by the names. Some of the largest household name firms had been breached, dozens of which were never made public. Their database security at the time was little more than access controls. The "advanced" firms encrypted their tape archives, but not the data files.

There is no statistical evidence that breaches are on the rise. What we know is that there are more breaches in the news than ever before. You would think companies are less likely to disclose -- worried about the long-term impact to stock value, but it's a major change that attackers like LulzSec and Anonymous publish details about the hacks to the world.

Other than that, not much has changed with data and database security. Databases are still vulnerable to SQL injection attacks because the applications that use databases still do not filter input variables of malicious code. Input validation remains one of the most daunting problems for application -- and, in turn, database security today.

Second, databases remain far behind in patching. While the database vendors have become better at providing timely patches, for many customers the installation of the patches remains a problem. Very poor separation of duties exist for most, and credential management is typically lax.

Finally, it's usually a series of vulnerabilities that are required for a successful breach. After all, you need a way into an organization, you need to locate the data, and then you need a way out. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit for attackers, so while most IT organizations have better security that they did 10 years ago, they are very likely to remain vulnerable to attack.

What's not the same is the database vendors, who are much better at understanding the severity of issues, patching the holes in a timely fashion, and making better security decisions as it relates to database architecture. And most of the vendors offer advanced security controls to help detect and deter attacks if appropriately deployed. Of course, the attackers are motivated professionals who have evolved their abilities to derive money from the stolen data.

What has also evolved is the targeted nature of the attacks. Spear-phishing of individuals has been on the rise, as have the targeted attacks on specific companies. While the motivation varies from attacker to attacker, the net result is the same. In the past five years, general data security has evolved, but only to meet some of the threats from five years ago.

Adrian Lane is an analyst/CTO with Securosis LLC, an independent security consulting practice. Special to Dark Reading. Adrian Lane is a Security Strategist and brings over 25 years of industry experience to the Securosis team, much of it at the executive level. Adrian specializes in database security, data security, and secure software development. With experience at Ingres, Oracle, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-3562
Published: 2014-08-21
Red Hat Directory Server 8 and 389 Directory Server, when debugging is enabled, allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive replicated metadata by searching the directory.

CVE-2014-3577
Published: 2014-08-21
org.apache.http.conn.ssl.AbstractVerifier in Apache HttpComponents HttpClient before 4.3.5 and HttpAsyncClient before 4.0.2 does not properly verify that the server hostname matches a domain name in the subject's Common Name (CN) or subjectAltName field of the X.509 certificate, which allows man-in-...

CVE-2014-5158
Published: 2014-08-21
The (1) av-centerd SOAP service and (2) backup command in the ossim-framework service in AlienVault OSSIM before 4.6.0 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-5159
Published: 2014-08-21
SQL injection vulnerability in the ossim-framework service in AlienVault OSSIM before 4.6.0 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the ws_data parameter.

CVE-2014-5210
Published: 2014-08-21
The av-centerd SOAP service in AlienVault OSSIM before 4.7.0 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via a crafted (1) remote_task or (2) get_license request, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-3804 and CVE-2014-3805.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Three interviews on critical embedded systems and security, recorded at Black Hat 2014 in Las Vegas.