According to Statista, the amount of data created and consumed globally is forecasted to reach 180 zettabytes by 2025, which equals to 180 billion terabytes, or 180 trillion gigabytes.
With the data growing at tremendous speed every year, the need for data security increases by multiple folds as well. In fact, 36 billion records were compromised between January and September 2020, according to the Risk Based Security’s 2020 Q3 Data Breach QuickView Report. That is equivalent to roughly four records of every person on the planet getting compromised. Moreover, the report confirmed that there were 2,953 publicly-reported breaches during the same period.
The average cost of a data breach is 4.24 million USD, according to a research conducted by Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM in 2021. It is a significant figure for small to medium sized businesses that are hoping to scale their businesses and can set them back quite a few steps. This re-establishes the need for data security against potential threats. That said, let’s get to know why database security is so important and explore database security best practices for small to medium sized businesses.
The Role of Database Security
Database security is responsible for the protection of data in the database including but not limited to, the database management system, the physical and virtual servers and other associated hardware, associated applications, and the network infrastructure used to access the database. It is important to maintain the confidentiality of data because the loss of private information can impact an individual or institution in unimaginable ways.
Intellectual property like ideas, strategies, and inventions may be compromised when data is breached. This can result in loss of competitive advantage, which can be difficult to recover from. That is why data security makes or breaks a company: it is one of the most important determinants of people’s trust in a brand or company.
One of the most famous and recent data breaches of this year was when Amazon was hacked and user information was reportedly sold on the black market. An incident like that leaves a memorable impression and can negatively impact users’ trust.
Moreover, there are global regulations in place to safeguard confidential information. Companies failing to comply with these regulations are subjected to legal actions like fines and penalties and/or stripping of trade licences. Also, a data breach adds extra costs like the costs of investigating the breach and informing the stakeholders, legal fees, etc. Hence, it is imperative to safeguard the database with the right practices to avoid a breach of the sensitive data.
3 Best Practices for Database Security
1. Ensure Physical Security
Data centers are vulnerable to physical attacks by both insider threats and outsiders. Also, the data on physical servers is at risk of corruption or theft if their security is compromised. That is why it is significant to make sure the data centers are protected. There are several ways of ensuring the same.
While choosing a web hosting provider, one must opt for a company with stringent security measures for their data centers. While housing servers independently, it is imperative to have security measures such as cameras, locks, and biometric entry points along with security personnels to mitigate the risks of a physical attack. Also, it is best to keep the database on a separate server.
2. Monitor and Encrypt
Real-time database monitoring is one of the most powerful weapons to ensure the security of a database. Active, automated scans help detect breach attempts on the database in advance, which helps in bolstering the security. Moreover, an escalation protocol must be set to instantly act and notify in case of an attack.
Any confidential information must be encrypted to ensure data security. Encrypted data is usually safe — even in the wrong hands — unless the hacker steals the decryption keys, which is highly unlikely if the company is following the best practices. That said, it is recommended to encrypt stored data and separately store its keys to add an extra layer of security against attacks.
3. Automate Backups and Updates
Data security is not just about protecting data from getting hacked, it is also about protecting data from getting corrupted or lost. That is why data must be regularly backed up on different servers to have data redundancy, which protects data from getting damaged or lost. This ensures a safe copy of sensitive information when the primary database gets compromised or corrupted.
It is also imperative that the applications managing the databases are up-to-date. The database management software should not only be patched and updated, but also those patches and updates must be verified. Otherwise, the applications may have known vulnerabilities, which may help compromise data servers.
Database security is a complex endeavor with multi-faceted tasks: from keeping the database servers physically safe to avoiding risks of human errors. That is why database security best practices and protocols must be followed to mitigate the risks of security threats and malicious attacks. These prove beneficial for small to medium sized businesses to build reputation and maintain user trust.
Interesting related article: “What is Cybersecurity?“