What DAM Does

Database activity monitoring (DAM) tools have a range of capabilities, including data collection and analysis. But the real question is: How does this technology help you?

Adrian Lane, Contributor

November 4, 2009

2 Min Read

Database activity monitoring (DAM) tools have a range of capabilities, including data collection and analysis. But the real question is: How does this technology help you?No one is looking for a generic tool; rather, they are looking for a cost-effective solution for some business problem. And in this economy, it had better save time and money as well. So how do you apply database activity monitoring to solve business problems? There are three common use cases:

Security: The collection of all SQL activity inside and outside the database offers a unique form of event correlation that, when coupled with real time analysis, provides extraordinary security event notification. Failed logins, administrative activity, SQL injection detection, blocking unwanted statements, alteration of user privileges, and use of stored procedures are common security features built into DAM platforms. Access control systems, SIEM, and WAF technologies can offer many of these features, but not all at once -- and not from a single product.

Database Operations: Changes to database applications are complex, often comprised of hundreds of individual steps, with the ultimate result not evident from any single action. These include changes to platform function, to database structure, installation of patches, backup and recovery detection, change order verification, resource allocation issues, business process failures and in some cases, database and vulnerability detection. Transactional analysis of these common database administrative tasks are built into database monitoring and auditing tools, and can feed the results into other management applications.

Compliance: It's beyond the skill of most auditors to find information within a database, but separation of duties demands information collection and policy analysis be independent of DBA's and IT administrators. Change order verification, audit trail production, user permissions changes, and control validation are typical requirements. Collection of database audit and access trails provides control verification. Sarbanes-Oxley and other financial regulations require a complete and accurate picture of transactions, while PCI compliance mandates data usage reports on credit card related data. These are native capabilities to DAM, providing a neutral platform for policy deployment, analysis, and reporting. Solving database security problems was the genesis of the DAM market, but compliance is what drives adoption of the technology today. While there is some overlap with other security and management platforms, DAM offers features and functions found nowhere else.

Most vendors pre-package thousands of compliance and security polices, both saving time in the development of these rules and providing database analysis capabilities to non-database experts.

While compliance is the driver, business justification for DAM products comes from the sum of these capabilities to automates security, compliance, and operational management tasks, and the flexibility to adapt to many environments.

Adrian Lane is an analyst/CTO with Securosis LLC, an independent security consulting practice. Special to Dark Reading.

About the Author(s)

Adrian Lane


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 Unisys, he has extensive experience in the vendor community, but brings a pragmatic perspective to selecting and deploying technologies having worked on "the other side" as CIO in the finance vertical. Prior to joining Securosis, Adrian served as the CTO/VP at companies such as IPLocks, Touchpoint, CPMi and Transactor/Brodia. He has been invited to present at dozens of security conferences, contributed articles to many major publications, and is easily recognizable by his "network hair" and propensity to wear loud colors.

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