[ISN] Security's Soft Underbelly

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Tue Jun 05 2007 - 22:31:27 PDT


By Larry Ponemon
Special to Dark Reading
June 5, 2007

Databases are among the most widely deployed, complex, and fastest 
growing technologies in corporate infrastructures. Stocked with vast 
amounts of business-critical, sensitive records, theyre now the focal 
point in highly-damaging data breaches. Its a safe bet that perpetrators 
will target databases even more in the days ahead.

Yet, as businesses rush to provide real-time information flow inside and 
outside their organizations, database security remains one of the least 
understood and most under-funded aspects of corporate security -- and IT 
is yelling for help.

These are some of the key findings in a new study [1] we released 
yesterday in conjunction with Application Security (AppSecInc). We 
queried 649 highly experienced IT professionals, more than 70 percent of 
which are responsible for managing all or part of their organizations IT 
budget -- a solid barometer for corporate priorities.

Of the 2007 total corporate IT budget, respondents said they have 
allocated 34 percent for database infrastructure and 20.6 percent for IT 
security overall. More than 53 percent believe their databases are 
critical to their businesses.

But only 15 percent said that extending security best practices to the 
database is a "critical priority" for 2007. Higher priorities included 
upgrading applications (25 percent), improving the efficiency of IT (20 
percent), and consolidating IT infrastructure (19 percent). Upgrading 
security overall (13 percent) finished slightly lower, as did supporting 
Sarbanes-Oxley (10 percent) and upgrading disaster recovery capabilities 
(9 percent).

Interestingly, 92 percent of respondents are seeking a better tool to 
help them identify and analyze risk factors that exist within their 
systems or IT infrastructure. This makes sense, particularly as a 
majority of respondents plan no, or only slight, increases in IT staff 
in 2007.

According to our study results, IT security practitioners are fairly 
confident they can stop hackers from compromising their systems (68 
percent), but they are far less certain that they can prevent malicious 
insiders (43 percent) and negligence (45 percent). Respondents in larger 
organizations are more confident than those in smaller-sized companies 
when it comes to their ability to control these threats.

Whats in corporate databases? Lots of valuable data. Some 55 percent of 
respondents said their databases contain customer data, 54 percent said 
databases contain employee data, and 50 percent contain confidential 
business data. Intellectual property -- the most highly-guarded data in 
our survey -- resides in 38 percent of respondents' databases.

Respondents' database environments are of substantial scale and 
complexity -- a majority of respondents manage more than 500 databases. 
Twenty-nine percent have many different database types and technologies. 
Another 38 percent said their IT environment consists of a few different 
types of databases. Only 24 percent of respondents stated that their 
organization utilizes one primary database technology. One of the 
biggest challenges, then, is coordinating database security across the 

SQL, Oracle, and DB2 are the most frequently used database solutions for 
respondent companies. In addition, our results show that both Oracle and 
DB2 are the most likely to be used for critical or high-priority data. 
MySQL and Sybase were the least likely to be used for critical data.

What are the features most important to respondents when purchasing a 
database security software application or tool? Robust access controls, 
ease of integration, and the ability to identify unauthorized access are 
viewed as the three most important features. Real time alerts and 
preformatted policies for Sarbanes Oxley or PCI compliance ranked low on 
the list.

Clearly, database security is becoming an important part of the security 
picture, but most organizations still have a lot of work to do. If you 
have questions about the research, please contact us.

- Larry Ponemon is founder and CEO of Ponemon Institute LLC. - Special 
  to Dark Reading.

[1] http://www.appsecinc.com/news/pr/2007_6_04_Ponemon-Study.shtml

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