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

12/22/2011
10:28 AM
Adrian Lane
Adrian Lane
Commentary
50%
50%

Database Security Proxies

Using DAM as a security proxy

The last database activity monitoring (DAM) model I want to address is the proxy model.

This is the final installment of my trends series, following the business activity monitoring, ADMP and the policy driven security model.

With the proxy model, DAM sits in front of the databases and all database requests are routed through the proxy. This is a deployment model shared with the ADMP and business activity monitoring models, allowing the proxy to detect and block malicious queries. But where it gets interesting is the other ways the proxy alters database output and function: In essence, the proxy model adds database functionality by modifying the results in non-standard ways.

The proxy model works is by intercepting inbound queries and after analysis, reacting with different technologies. One major feature is DAM recognizes incoming queries and provides the result directly to the user without passing the query to the database. The proxy system works as a database cache, lowering the resource demand on the database and improving query response times.

Another key feature is the proxy will protect sensitive information through masking or query re-writing. Depending upon the query, the data requested and the user credentials, the proxy will automatically alter the results a user would normally receive by either rewriting the query to omit sensitive data, or dynamically altering the result set. This masking model helps protect sensitive information without altering the database or encumbering it with overhead of data substitution. Finally, the proxy model of DAM acts as a firewall to protect the database from known attack signatures. Often called virtual patching, this feature protects the database from attacks and gives the database administrators some leeway as to when they apply security patches.

The downside of this deployment option is it's a one-to-one model, meaning one proxy serves one database. There are ways to minimize this, but at it's heart, the proxy is part of the database. Most DAM products offer a hierarchical deployment with end-point collectors to serve dozens -- if not hundreds -- of databases. Further, the proxy needs careful administration to ensure that the masks, caching, and attack signatures are working properly and do not interfering with normal business operations.

Finally, the implementations of this model are harder to use for compliance management. This is both for scaling policies across and organization, as well as full lifecycle integration with assessment, discovery, patch management, and protection. Some of the capabilities are present, but it's not as evolved as the other platforms.

With all of the DAM models I've discussed in this series, none are without concerns and side effects. Every option has detractors. The good news is between the four variations, there is likely a model that matches your security and/or operations model, making the system -- as a whole -- a better fit for your organization. And as I talk to a dozen large firms every month, I know every IT organization has their own peculiar way of doing things, and that's just the way it is.

It will take some time for you to understand DAM vendors' vision of security and compliance to see if it's in line with your IT operations model. You're not going to figure that out with your standard set of RFP/RFI questions, so start asking better questions that take into account your organizational oddities.

I want to make some final comments on this series as well. As DAM is morphing beyond databases and encompasses data and application security, what we ultimately call this/these new products is still up for debate. Unlike antivirus, which is a single-use tool, DAM is spreading across organizations for multiple applications and use cases. The commonality between the models discussed in this series is DAM is the cornerstone, and each model possesses and architecture capable of extending well beyond databases. The existing architecture readily accepts new capabilities (file activity monitoring is an example) and can handle a much broader array of security, compliance, and operations challenges than the original platform focus. It will be exciting to watch as customer choose which best fits their needs.

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
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
7 Tips for Infosec Pros Considering A Lateral Career Move
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/21/2020
For Mismanaged SOCs, The Price Is Not Right
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
IT 2020: A Look Ahead
Are you ready for the critical changes that will occur in 2020? We've compiled editor insights from the best of our network (Dark Reading, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, ITPro Today and Network Computing) to deliver to you a look at the trends, technologies, and threats that are emerging in the coming year. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
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-2015-3154
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
CRLF injection vulnerability in Zend\Mail (Zend_Mail) in Zend Framework before 1.12.12, 2.x before 2.3.8, and 2.4.x before 2.4.1 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary HTTP headers and conduct HTTP response splitting attacks via CRLF sequences in the header of an email.
CVE-2019-17190
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
A Local Privilege Escalation issue was discovered in Avast Secure Browser 76.0.1659.101. The vulnerability is due to an insecure ACL set by the AvastBrowserUpdate.exe (which is running as NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM) when AvastSecureBrowser.exe checks for new updates. When the update check is triggered, the...
CVE-2014-8161
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
PostgreSQL before 9.0.19, 9.1.x before 9.1.15, 9.2.x before 9.2.10, 9.3.x before 9.3.6, and 9.4.x before 9.4.1 allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive column values by triggering constraint violation and then reading the error message.
CVE-2014-9481
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
The Scribunto extension for MediaWiki allows remote attackers to obtain the rollback token and possibly other sensitive information via a crafted module, related to unstripping special page HTML.
CVE-2015-0241
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
The to_char function in PostgreSQL before 9.0.19, 9.1.x before 9.1.15, 9.2.x before 9.2.10, 9.3.x before 9.3.6, and 9.4.x before 9.4.1 allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via a (1) large number of digits when processing a numeric ...