Application Security // Database Security
8/9/2011
03:24 PM
Adrian Lane
Adrian Lane
Commentary
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
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading, January 2015
To find and fix exploits aimed directly at your business, stop waiting for alerts and become a proactive hunter.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7402
Published: 2014-12-17
Multiple unspecified vulnerabilities in request.c in c-icap 0.2.x allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via a crafted ICAP request.

CVE-2014-5437
Published: 2014-12-17
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in ARRIS Touchstone TG862G/CT Telephony Gateway with firmware 7.6.59S.CT and earlier allow remote attackers to hijack the authentication of administrators for requests that (1) enable remote management via a request to remote_management.php,...

CVE-2014-5438
Published: 2014-12-17
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in ARRIS Touchstone TG862G/CT Telephony Gateway with firmware 7.6.59S.CT and earlier allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the computer_name parameter to connected_devices_computers_edit.php.

CVE-2014-7170
Published: 2014-12-17
Race condition in Puppet Server 0.2.0 allows local users to obtain sensitive information by accessing it in between package installation or upgrade and the start of the service.

CVE-2014-7285
Published: 2014-12-17
The management console on the Symantec Web Gateway (SWG) appliance before 5.2.2 allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary OS commands by injecting command strings into unspecified PHP scripts.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.