‫ Database Security: Threats and Challenges (Part 2)

Number:     IRCAR201408230
Date: 2014-08-19
In the previous part of this article, we studied about some security threats to database. Other types of database security threats are described.
C.    Privilege Elevation
Sometimes there are vulnerabilities in database software and attackers may take advantage of that to convert their access privileges from an ordinary user to those of an administrator, which could result in bogus accounts, transfer of funds, and misinterpretation of certain sensitive analytical information. A database rootkit is such a program or a procedure that is hidden inside the database and that provides administrator-level privileges to gain access to the data in the database. These rootkits may even turn off alerts triggered by Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS). It is possible to install a rootkit only after compromising the underlying operating system.
D.    Platform Vulnerabilities
Vulnerabilities in operating systems and additional services installed on a database server may lead to unauthorized access, data corruption, or denial of service. For example, the Blaster Worm took advantage of a Windows 2000 vulnerability to create denial of service conditions.
E.    Inference
Even in secure DBMSs, it is possible for users to draw inferences from the information they obtain from the database. A user can draw inference from a database when the user can guess or conclude more sensitive information from the retrieved information from the database or additionally with some prior knowledge. An inference presents a security breach if more highly classified information can be inferred from less classified information. There are two important cases of the inference problem, which often arise in database systems.
1)            Aggregation problem: occurs when a collection of data items is more sensitive i.e. classified at a higher level than the levels of individual data items. For example in an organization the profit of each branch is not sensitive but total profit of organization is at higher level of classification.
2)            Data association problem: occurs whenever two values seen together are classified at a higher level than the classification of either value individually. As an example, the list containing the names of all employees and the list containing all employee salaries are unclassified, while a combined list giving employee names with their salaries is classified.
F.    SQL Injection
In a SQL injection attack, an attacker typically inserts (or “injects”) unauthorized SQL statements into a vulnerable SQL data channel. Typically targeted data channels include stored procedures and Web application input parameters. These injected statements are then passed to the database where they are executed. For example in a web application the user inserts a query instead of his name. Using SQL injection, attackers may gain unrestricted access to an entire database.
G.    Unpatched DBMS
In database, as the vulnerabilities are kept changing that are being exploited by attackers, database vendors release patches so that sensitive information in databases remain protected from threats. Once these patches are released they should be patched immediately. If left unpatched, hackers can reverse engineer the patch, or can often find information online on how to exploit the unpatched vulnerabilities, leaving a DBMS even more vulnerable that before the patch was released.
H.    Unnecessary DBMS Features Enabled
In a DBMS there are many unneeded features which are enabled by default and which should be turned off otherwise they would be the reason for the most effective attacks on a database.
I.     Misconfigurations
Unnecessary features are left on because of poor configuration at the database level. Database misconfigurations provide weak access points for hackers to bypass authentication methods and gain access to sensitive information. These flaws become the main targets for criminals to execute certain types of attacks. Default settings may not have been properly re-set, unencrypted files may be accessible to non-privileged users, and unpatched flaws may lead to unauthorized access of sensitive data.
J.     Buffer Overflow
When a program or process tries to store more data in a buffer than it was intended to hold, this situation is called buffer overflow. Since buffers contains only a finite amount of data, the extra data - which has to go somewhere - can overflow into adjacent locations, corrupting or overwriting the valid data held in those locations. For example, a program is waiting for a user to enter his or her name. Rather than entering the name, the hacker would enter an executable command that exceeds the size of buffer. The command is usually something short.



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