Protecting Organizations from Breaches of Their Databases

By  //  October 20, 2022

Database security is all about taking steps to protect an organization’s database from internal and external threats. This includes the database, the data in the database, the database management system, and the different applications that access the database.

Databases can come under a variety of threats, from cyberattacks to misuse of data and databases by the people who have access to them. That’s why organizations must take great care to reinforce their cybersecurity with the help of companies such as Perimeter 81 or other operators in the cybersecurity industry.

Cybercriminals love hacking into the databases of businesses and other organizations. Any hacker who manages to break through an organization’s cyber defenses can then steal the data and either hold it for ransom or sell it to the highest bidder. Identity theft is another temptation for hackers. The hackers can use the details to steal an identity, break into other accounts or conduct other fraudulent activity.

Below is a look at how hackers break into databases, the consequences of a hacker succeeding in breaking through an organization’s cyber defenses, and the measures and services the organizations to defend themselves against potential attacks.

How hackers attack systems

As well as having superb IT skills, hackers are cunning and use a range of tactics to break into databases. Here are some they use:

Password cracking

Sometimes hackers get plain lucky and guess the password or take advantage of employees’ oversight. A lot of companies forget to change the default passwords they receive from the service provider. A quick search on Google will reveal them, and then the hackers go to town.

Capitalizing on software vulnerabilities

Hackers keep up to date with software vulnerabilities and exploit these holes in security to break into databases. They achieve this easily by creating malware or using malware that exploits unsecured systems. They may also apply this to add-on features on a database that the organization isn’t using or which have security flaws of its own.

Packet sniffing

This method of attack functions by intercepting traffic between connections. Naturally, that means the hacker’s intercept information such as log-in details. The packet sniffers then allow the cyber criminals to come up with an easy way to hack into the network.

The consequences of database hacks

An organization that suffers a data breach then has a serious problem on its hands. Data breaches can do all kinds of damage.

Damage to the business or organization’s reputation

When data gets into the wrong hands, the organization suffers severe damage to its reputation and business situation. Such an incident can even harm the planned sale of a business, not to mention affect any contractual obligations that the organization is under.

Financial losses

Cybercrime is more damaging to smaller businesses than to larger ones. The longer the breach continues, the more the business can lose. In the case of large companies, the losses can run into the millions.

Penalties and notifications

When businesses end up on the wrong end of a data breach, they have to notify their customers. Companies that are doing business internationally may have to comply with lots of different requirements about who they have to notify, depending on the jurisdiction. The cost of all this, combined with the costs of compensation for damages, legal penalties, and potential lawsuits, can threaten the very survival of a business.

Costs beneath the surface

Data breaches cause general operational disruption that distracts the organization from its business activities. This can be especially punishing for smaller businesses or businesses already struggling to manage their cash flow. Obtaining loans to cover the cost of recovery may become more expensive. The business’s insurance premiums may also go up.

Keeping an organization’s database secure

Thankfully, there are ways organizations can protect their databases from the malicious claws of cyber criminals.

Separating the database server from the web server

The organization should always keep its database on a server not connected to the machines running applications on their web servers. The latter servers often come under attack because they’re publicly accessible and situated in a demilitarised zone (DMZ), an area of a perimeter network that functions as a buffer between the internal and external network of the organization. If a server is compromised, hackers could gain root access if the database server and web server are on the machine.

Use a firewall

By default, firewalls deny access to malicious traffic, so organizations should protect their databases with one. This could even be a database-specific firewall. Only traffic from certain applications or web servers that require data should be allowed.

Update database software and patch it

A lot of databases have weaknesses in the software that leave them wide open for cyberattacks. Running unpatched software might not seem like a big deal, but doing so can have major consequences, so it’s important to apply software updates and patches when they come out. Avoiding using any software or applications that don’t receive regular updates.

Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to hack into the databases of organizations, so it’s important for these operators to employ robust security. A failure to protect systems could see the organizations forced to pay out money in compensation and address some of the legal circumstances around the breach, as well as damage to the reputation of the organization and a slowdown of its operations while it deals with the fallout from the security breach.