Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

7/23/2013
09:35 AM
Adrian Lane
Adrian Lane
Quick Hits
50%
50%

Choosing And Implementing An Enterprise Database Encryption Strategy

As long as your database information has value, you need encryption. Here are some tips for making enterprise database encryption work

[The following is excerpted from "Choosing and Implementing an Enterprise Database Encryption Strategy," a new report posted this week on Dark Reading's Database Security Tech Center.]

A lot of attention is given to securing database systems-- and rightly so: Databases are the target for attackers who wish to siphon off intellectual property, gather financial data that can be turned into cash and, in some cases, break in just for the sport of it. The attacks against computer systems are diverse, but the end target is typically the database.

The majority of research today centers on the security of database infrastructure -- in essence, the engine that stores, manages and serves data. But all too often we forget that it's the data an attacker is after. In fact, it's simpler -- and provides more universal protection -- to focus on securing the data as it's used, moved and stored than to worry about the complexities of different database systems used in your organization.

When you say "database encryption," what comes to mind? Encrypting data at rest? Perhaps you think of encrypted database backup, or maybe it's the Internet connection to the database. Actually, database encryption is all of these things. And there are several variations to each, providing slightly different advantages in terms of security, cost and performance.

Application-layer encryption
As the name implies, application-layer encryption is implemented by the application that uses the database to store information. Application developers usually leverage a third-party encryption library to encrypt data before it's sent to the database and to decrypt it when read from the database.

There are several advantages to this method of encryption. The data and the encryption keys are not stored in the database, so neither the platform nor database administrator can access them. In addition, the application developer decides how much data will be encrypted and with what level of granularity.

With all that said, this method of encryption has fallen out of favor with all but the most security-conscious of companies because it has some serious drawbacks: It's incredibly difficult to retrofit encryption at the application layer into a legacy application; every databaseread and write operation (SQL query) must be altered to use encryption, usually at tremendous cost in development time and testing. In addition, useful database features such as indexing don't work with encrypted data; as the encrypted output is random, the ordering of encrypted data elements will be, as well.

Finally, encrypted data is typically in binary format, meaning the tables must be reconstructed to accept binary instead of traditional text, date or monetary values. In short, application-layer encryption offers the greatest degree of security at the highest cost in complexity and implementation time.

Native database object encryption
All of the major relational database vendors offer one or more types of encryption. The first we call "native database object encryption," because the encryption engine resides inside the database. It's part of the database code, and you configure it to protect specific database objects (such as tables and schemas). Keys are held inside the database, in the system tables, so they are accessible to the database in the event of restarts.

The benefit of native object encryption is that it's an entirely self-contained encryption option. It's effective for media encryption because data is already encrypted before it's copied to storage drives or tape backups.

To read more about native object encryption -- as well as other encryption strategies and issues in implementation -- download the free report.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add a Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. 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
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Microsoft to Officially End Support for Windows 7, Server 2008
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/13/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-7227
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
Westermo MRD-315 1.7.3 and 1.7.4 devices have an information disclosure vulnerability that allows an authenticated remote attacker to retrieve the source code of different functions of the web application via requests that lack certain mandatory parameters. This affects ifaces-diag.asp, system.asp, ...
CVE-2019-15625
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A memory usage vulnerability exists in Trend Micro Password Manager 3.8 that could allow an attacker with access and permissions to the victim's memory processes to extract sensitive information.
CVE-2019-19696
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A RootCA vulnerability found in Trend Micro Password Manager for Windows and macOS exists where the localhost.key of RootCA.crt might be improperly accessed by an unauthorized party and could be used to create malicious self-signed SSL certificates, allowing an attacker to misdirect a user to phishi...
CVE-2019-19697
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
An arbitrary code execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2019 (v15) consumer family of products which could allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges and tamper with protected services by disabling or otherwise preventing them to start. An attacker must already have administr...
CVE-2019-20357
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A Persistent Arbitrary Code Execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2020 (v160 and 2019 (v15) consumer familiy of products which could potentially allow an attacker the ability to create a malicious program to escalate privileges and attain persistence on a vulnerable system.