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.

Analytics

11/16/2006
07:50 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Study: SQL Server Is Safest DB

Research finds significantly fewer vulnerabilities in SQL Server database than in Oracle

That big spike in Web application vulnerabilities is bad news for your database. And apparently, some databases are more of a target than others.

Eric Ogren, security analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group, has compiled Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) data from Oracle, Microsoft's SQL Server, and the open source MySQL database, and found some major differences. In fact, Oracle has 70 vulnerabilities, MySQL has 59, and SQL Server has just two. Sybase has seven, and IBM's DB2 has four, according to ESG's findings.

Ogren says some of the security-related features built into Microsoft's SQL Server has helped keep its number of reported bugs to a minimum. "Microsoft finds the problems before it gets to the point of using a scanning tool," he says, whereas Oracle relies on scanning for problems after development is complete, he says.

But Ted Julian, vice president of marketing for AppSec, which sells vulnerability scanning tools for databases, says the lopsided vulnerability count may be more a function of where the more valuable corporate data typically lies -- in the Oracle database. "There's no question the research community has been more focused on Oracle," he says. "Oracle is far more likely to have valuable data on it" than SQL Server, Julian says.

Ogren, however, doesn't agree that Oracle databases necessarily hold more precious data. "I see plenty of companies that have confidential data in SQL Server, Oracle, DB2 and Sybase. It is certainly not as if it all sits on Oracle," he says.

But either way you slice it, hacking a database is like striking gold, whether it's via a Web app or database bug -- or both. There have been a number of security issues with Web applications recently. (See The Web App Security Gap and Cross-Site Scripting: Attackers' New Favorite Flaw.) And at least one-third of the 97 million data records that were compromised since 2005 came from a database, AppSec's Julian notes. (See Database Threat Intensifies.)

"What's the most obvious target in the world? The database," he says. "It's where data lives in a single place."

Over 70 percent of the vulnerabilities Symantec saw this year were Web application bugs, which are often the entry point to the database, says Oliver Friedrichs, director of Symantec Security Response. "This goes hand-in-hand with database security," Friedrichs says. "Web apps are the front-end to a database a lot of the time. They are a mechanism to ultimately get to your database."

So those SQL injection, CGI scripts, and other vulnerabilities out there in your Web apps could lead the bad guys right to your corporate data. And that's not even taking into account the bugs in the databases themselves. "If you can break into a Web application, you can get access to the database using the same application," Friedrichs says.

And you can't count on that firewalled DMZ to protect your database anymore: Databases are most at risk to an insider threat, ESG's Ogren says, and these attacks don't typically use vulnerabilities at all.

"It could be your employees, your outsourcers, or your business partners who have an authorized ID," he says. "These are the people that know enough to take advantage of things like privilege escalation. These are more attacks against the database design than they are attacks against a vulnerability."

Ogren notes that Microsoft's latest development strategy of baking security into the code from the get-go has made SQL Server safer, as well as the fact that it disables by default the riskier options like Windows command shells and SQL browser service, which could be used by attackers. It also uses authenticated identity, where a user only gets to see what he is authorized to see in his database searches, Ogren says.

Aside from the known CVE bugs, enterprises need to watch out for configuration errors, too -- in access and account control, such as leaving the default admin password active, for instance. Database vulnerability scanners from AppSec or Imperva, for instance, help you discover just what databases are on your network. "It's stunning how often companies don't know what databases are out there," Ogren says.

Actively monitoring for zero-day vulnerabilities or insider threats is also crucial for the unknown threats to the database, and encryption is also essential, experts say.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)
  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)
  • Application Security Inc.

    Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • Comments
    Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
    News
    Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
    Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
    Commentary
    Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
    Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
    Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
    White Papers
    Video
    Cartoon
    Current Issue
    2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
    We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
    Flash Poll
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
    Twitter Feed
    Dark Reading - Bug Report
    Bug Report
    Enterprise Vulnerabilities
    From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
    CVE-2021-3493
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-17
    The overlayfs implementation in the linux kernel did not properly validate with respect to user namespaces the setting of file capabilities on files in an underlying file system. Due to the combination of unprivileged user namespaces along with a patch carried in the Ubuntu kernel to allow unprivile...
    CVE-2021-3492
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-17
    Shiftfs, an out-of-tree stacking file system included in Ubuntu Linux kernels, did not properly handle faults occurring during copy_from_user() correctly. These could lead to either a double-free situation or memory not being freed at all. An attacker could use this to cause a denial of service (ker...
    CVE-2020-2509
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-17
    A command injection vulnerability has been reported to affect QTS and QuTS hero. If exploited, this vulnerability allows attackers to execute arbitrary commands in a compromised application. We have already fixed this vulnerability in the following versions: QTS 4.5.2.1566 Build 20210202 and later Q...
    CVE-2020-36195
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-17
    An SQL injection vulnerability has been reported to affect QNAP NAS running Multimedia Console or the Media Streaming add-on. If exploited, the vulnerability allows remote attackers to obtain application information. QNAP has already fixed this vulnerability in the following versions of Multimedia C...
    CVE-2021-29445
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-16
    jose-node-esm-runtime is an npm package which provides a number of cryptographic functions. In versions prior to 3.11.4 the AES_CBC_HMAC_SHA2 Algorithm (A128CBC-HS256, A192CBC-HS384, A256CBC-HS512) decryption would always execute both HMAC tag verification and CBC decryption, if either failed `JWEDe...