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Attacks/Breaches

4/22/2011
08:01 PM
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Verizon Breach Report Shows Database Security Not Just About Credit Cards Anymore

The number of breached records is down, but database servers are still the hot target of attackers--and smaller organizations are also in the bull's eye.

Although the new Verizon Business data breach report did on the surface report that the volume of data exposed has decreased over the past year, security experts warn the database community that it should not infer that this means that it's doing a good job of protecting structured data stores: Digging deeper into the data, in fact, offers evidence that database security is more important than ever.

"Don't take that the records are down as something that to indicate that we don't have to worry about database security at all," says Alex Hutton, principal in research and risk intelligence for Verizon Business, which 2011 Data Breach Investigations Report. "In the traditional hacking of enterprises that you and I think about, database servers are still very much number one--if anything you can read our numbers and you can see external agents are as in love with our databases servers as they always have been."

The report found that behind several types of point-of-sale vectors, databases were the top source of data exposures among all breaches investigated by the Verizon report this year, accounting for 15 percent of records exposed.

According to Hutton and other security evangelists, the new data out shows that hackers aren't just looking at scoring big repositories of credit card data from large organizations anymore. Instead, they're flying under the radar attacking smaller organizations and looking for databases that contain more impactful (and profitable) information beyond the standard personally identifiable information (PII) that most database security professionals have been so concerned about over the last few years.

"The data is clearly saying that the targets now have shifted from the large organizations to small to medium organizations," says Mel Shakir, CTO of NitroSecurity. "It's understandable because they are easy targets. Even among those who have deployed (database) tools, they miss simple things like misconfigurations. This report is an education for them."

Hutton agrees. "The numbers are showing a real unreported story is that the attacks against small to medium-sized business are going up," he says.

Even if these organizations can't afford expensive database monitoring tools, they can start with the basics because it usually takes hackers several steps before they own the database.

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