10:11 AM
Adrian Lane
Adrian Lane

Let's Ask 'Why?'

Why are big firms still vulnerable to SQL injection?

Database security people as "Why?" a lot. "Why didn't they patch the database?" "Why did they move production data into testing?" "Why are they still vulnerable to SQL Injection?" "Why did forget to change the default admin password" "Why are we seeing these same simple errors?"

There has been a slowdown of blogging on the topic of database security of late. Not just me, though I am equally guilty, but just about every DB security expert I know has not had very little to say on the subject in the past year. Worse, look at the conference agenda's of RSA and Black Hat -- two of the industry's largest security shows -- and you are lucky if there is one presentation on the subject. I think since we have been seeing the same headlines over and over for so long, database security has lost its luster. Mobile, cloud, or even social media security, that's sexy. SQL injection? Not sexy, but it sure is effective.

So this is yet another opportunity to ask the question: "Why?" Have databases become so secure that it's not a topic for discussion? Not likely; it has being reported that Yahoo! suffered a breach today. The cause? SQL injection. Have you heard this before? Yes, you have.

According to data published from (CSV), SQL injection was the means used to extract 83 percent of the total records stolen in successful hacking-related data breaches from 2005 to 2011. Blink, and tomorrow it will be yet another big company. We don't see code injection and buffer overflow attacks like we used to -- the vendors have done a much better job at fixing those issues -- but SQL injection, compromised credentials, and poorly configured systems are still prevalent. These are the same basic threats we've seen for the past decade, and we see the same breach headlines!

We don't ask the question, "Why attack the database?" because we know the answer: That's where the data is. Databases are still a principle target, and most of the principle threat vectors remain viable for an attacker.

Database security programs, for better than half the small/midsize businesses I speak with, is a yearly access control and configuration assessment. No discovery. No monitoring. And if they do logging (and most don't), the data is sent to a log management system and not reviewed. That's it. And apparently lots of big enterprises don't get it right either. We've got tons of really good monitoring, assessment, auditing, masking, and encryption products out there for databases. Some are ridiculously simple to use. Others are offered for free; if you only have a handful of databases, you're not even going to pay to use some of the capabilities.

If database security is nagging at the back of your mind, then take some time and see what's out there. And if you are worried about risks, run a quick analysis to see what assets pose the greatest risk to your firm should they be lost or stolen. I think you will find the contents of the database to be at the top of your list.

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
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Five Emerging Security Threats - And What You Can Learn From Them
At Black Hat USA, researchers unveiled some nasty vulnerabilities. Is your organization ready?
Flash Poll
Title Partners Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partners Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
According to industry estimates, about a million new IT security jobs will be created in the next two years but there aren't enough skilled professionals to fill them. On top of that, there isn't necessarily a clear path to a career in security. Dark Reading Executive Editor Kelly Jackson Higgins hosts guests Carson Sweet, co-founder and CTO of CloudPassage, which published a shocking study of the security gap in top US undergrad computer science programs, and Rodney Petersen, head of NIST's new National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education.