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4/21/2016
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Databases Remain Soft Underbelly Of Cybersecurity

Most enterprises still don't continuously monitor database activity.

Despite the fact that databases still hold some of the most valuable data targeted by cyberthieves, the typical organization today lacks visibility into who is accessing their structured data stores and when.

According to a new survey out by Osterman Research of some 200 enterprises, most organizations still don't assess database activity continuously and lack the capability to identify database breaches in a timely fashion. The study, commissioned by DB Networks, found the top three database security issues among enterprises were tracking compromised credentials; the potential for the organization to experience a major data breach; and the inability of the organization to identify data breaches until it was too late to mitigate damage.

At the most basic level, 59% of organizations admit they lack a high degree of certainty about which applications, users, and clients are accessing their databases. And 43% of organizations don't even have a high degree of certainty about the number and types of database residing in their IT infrastructure.

Only one in five organizations currently conduct database activity monitoring continuously and 38% of organizations don't even have the mechanisms or controls in place to do so. A little more than half of respondents say they conduct database activity assessments infrequently--only once per quarter or less often. In fact, many security organizations lack any kind of accountability for database security whatsoever. The survey showed that 47% of respondents don't have an assigned team or individual to oversee the security of their databases.

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"Organizations need to conduct a thorough audit to understand where all of their data is located, who has access to this data, the specific legal and regulatory obligations to which this data is subject, the identity of the data stakeholders, and other relevant information," wrote Osterman. "This is essential in order to build a map of sorts that will help decision makers understand the security risks they face and how to prioritize their resources in closing the security gaps that exist."

This lack of visibility and control over database and data governance is making it difficult for enterprises to track down data breaches before they do real damage. According to the survey, it takes 44% of organizations a week or longer to discover a data breach using abused or compromised credentials to access databases. And 15% say they have no idea how long it would take to detect such a breach.

"If organizations cannot identify a successful security compromise, decision makers may never know that a particular event took place until it’s too late," the report explained. "As a result, while decision makers have correctly acknowledged the security compromises of which they are aware, those about which they are not aware pose a more significant problem."

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Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

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