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Web servers and numerous other applications that have access to the Internet are always at the danger of being exposed to hacker attacks. The latter commonly results in data breaches and information leaks (Shema, 2014). Recurrently, the data that is accessed throughout the hack is of sensitive character and can adversely impact both the organization and its employees at once. Even though there are issues inherent in hardware and how it is set up, the majority of problems transpire on the software and program code sides (Sivarajan, 2015). This paper reviews the existing issues with databases, provides several scenarios of the data breach, and shares several recommendations intended to help the administrator in case if it is necessary to come up with a strategy to preserve the company’s database and all the information that is stored there.
One of the most prevalent problems with databases is that there are no database backups in place or they are somehow stolen. Another issue that should be seen as one of the main contributors to the problems with databases is an excessive use of numerous database features at once. It puts the company at risk because various experiments with the database can enable a vulnerability that has not been identified before. Another factor that has to be taken into account by database administrators is the consistency of the database.
If the database is inconsistent, it will be much more vulnerable to hacker attacks. Regardless, the biggest threat to the company’s SQL Server is the possibility of SQL injections and buffer overflow for the IIS Server. The possible outcomes of the SQL injections include complete loss of data and the leak of sensitive information (both personal and corporate). In perspective, it may even lead to the company’s bankruptcy. The hostile code that can be incorporated into the system during the process of buffer overflow can help the hacker to organize DoS attacks and gain access to almost every aspect of the system. Poor database administration makes it easier for the hackers to get to the confidential data and expose the company to the negative consequences of their inattentiveness.
The most prevalent attack scenario is an SQL injection. This hacking mechanism is usually used when the intruder injects SQL queries by means of input forms created with HTML. The problem consists in the fact that these statements breach the security of the application and can easily modify the original queries. The simplest example of the application of SQL injections is a situation when the query asks the database to pull the username and password from the database rows. If this procedure is not protected, the hacker will gain access to the whole list of usernames and passwords that are stored in the database. The basic query may look like this:
SELECT * FROM employees WHERE u_name = “user” ‘OR 1=1 and pass = “password.” This means that the hacker will have the possibility to look through all the rows from the table u_name. There are different types of SQL injections that are recurrently utilized by hackers to steal the data from vulnerable databases. The first example is tautology – this method allows the hacker to pass authentication and steal all the necessary data. This is how the hacker can use this method: SELECT * FROM u_name WHERE user_id = ‘OR 1=1 AND pass = ‘.
By means of the ‘OR 1=1,’ the hacker creates a tautological clause and gains access to the data. Another type of SQL injection that can be used to steal the data is called a logically incorrect query – in this case, the hacker is keen on causing a type conversion blunder so as to get to the sensitive data. Another scenario can include the use of stored procedures. Here, the hacker will use the extra layer of the database that can be created by means of a stored procedure. For instance, the intruder can easily shut down the database by such query: SELECT * FROM u_name WHERE u_name = ”name” AND pass=”” SHUT DOWN.
On the other hand, there are numerous ways to prevent the database from being breached by means of SQL injections. The very first thing that should be done is the creation of prepared statements that will be utilized during the development of the database. These statements are relatively easy to come up with, and they are critically important in the case if there are dynamic queries that have to be processed. The key upside to this strategy is the fact that the developer has to deal with the SQL code first and comes back to setting the query parameters after the whole database structure is finished (O’Leary, 2015). It is always important to remember that stored procedures are not safe, but there are several ways to apply stored procedures when it is necessary to prevent database breaches. On a bigger scale, stored procedures function similarly to prepared statements, but they also allow the SQL statements to allocate parameters automatically unless the situation is uncommon (Pelekis & Theodoridis, 2016). To conclude, both prevention strategies are comparatively analogous, so it is up to the administrator to choose a more suitable option for the company.
The Role of Human Element
The impact of the human factor in the case of SQL injections is rather important. The database administrator should understand that the proper use of SQL queries can prevent the company from losing sensitive information and saving critical resources. If we address this issue from another point of view, we will see that an irresponsible approach to the development of the database and utilization of queries can lead to dreadful consequences (Conklin, 2016). All the code should be double-checked and validated by the development team so as to comply with the basic safety requirements and the organizational norms. The security of the whole system is the core responsibility of the developers, and they have to put their best effort into developing a wide-ranging protection against SQL injections and buffer overflow. In case if the information is finally stolen, there will be no chance to restore it without repercussions.
Conclusion and Recommendations
On the basis of the presented information, a number of conclusions and recommendations can be made. The first one is that every company should require from the database developers a high level of professionalism when it comes to designing the database and its safety measures. A defenseless information technology system will not stand a chance in the age of digital revolution against the hackers that come up with new ways to find the most exquisite vulnerabilities almost every day.
The second one is to monitor the news closely and install timely updates if there is a necessity to patch critical vulnerabilities. In order to do that, the administrator will have to keep up with the latest trends in database administration and vulnerabilities that can be used by hackers to organize serious data breaches. The importance of addressing the problems revolving around the database administration safety should never be underestimated because overlooking this aspect may translate into the company’s poor image or even ultimate bankruptcy.
Conklin, A. (2016). Principles of computer security: Security and Beyond (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
O’Leary, M. (2015). Cyber operations: Building, defending, and attacking modern computer networks. Towson, MD: Apress.
Pelekis, N., & Theodoridis, Y. (2016). Mobility data management and exploration. New York, NY: Springer.
Shema, M. (2014). Anti-hacker tool kit (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
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Sivarajan, S. (2015). Getting started with Windows server security: Develop and implement a secure Microsoft infrastructure platform using native and built-in tools. Birmingham, UK: Packt Publishing.