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  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
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
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
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.
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