Protecting your Data from End-to-End

10411920 844781258886636 3993750763521547552 nBill Rehm, ATS Database Lead

It's pretty difficult to have a database without some protection for the data. You need a database user name and password to access the data at the very least. If you don't want someone to see your data, you just don't give them the credentials. That seems pretty simple, doesn't it? Well, it is simple, but having a single user doesn't allow for any flexibility in determining different levels of access.

Does everyone really need read/write access to every column in every table? Normally that answer is "no". You're probably going to need a read-only user, and maybe other users that are prevented from seeing sensitive data. It could get complicated setting up all those additional users and roles.

I'm not like the others

Maybe your installation is different and users don't access the database directly. Their access is controlled by an application which handles all the security and permissions across the board. That application only needs a single user to connect to the data, and nobody but you knows the password. Well, you and the application administrator. That should be fine, right?

Even in a perfect world, there will be mistakes that can't be corrected within an application. Will you, as the DBA, be performing all those corrections? What about analyzing the raw data to determine what corrections to make? Will you also be exporting raw data for business analysts to pour over? Chances are you won't have the time or inclination to do all of that. You're still going to need some additional database users with varying levels of authority.

Your Data Is Still Vulnerable

You've got users with specific permissions; you've got security in the application; and maybe you even have auditing enabled. The only people who can use the application or access the database are on the corporate network or VPN. You feel pretty safe right about now, don't you?

What about operating system credentials? Who has access to the root or Oracle account? What users have pseudo rights? Anyone on the operating system can view or manipulate your data with OS super-user privileges. They don't even have to access the database directly! Now imagine if someone outside your company, a hacker or corporate spy, for example, finds an exploit that gives them access to the server operating system. Even if they can't find a way to use SQL, they can get your data using OS commands as well.

Data Encryption

Data is stored in the database in plain text. Despite all the user security you might have in place, the fact of the matter is that, if someone gains access to your data files, they're going to be able to see the information. Even inside the company with application security, you may be able to prevent people from seeing certain columns of data, but that data is still stored in the database in plain text. Unless you encrypt the data, your data remains vulnerable.

The data sitting in a database is considered data at rest. This can be recent information or historical, archived data on a data warehouse. Data that is currently being manipulated or used in any way is data in use. Data moving across a network or other medium is data in transit. Data in in transit is usually encrypted by VPN or other active methods. Data in use is going to be in memory, and that is normally not encrypted. Data at rest is also generally not encrypted and depending on your database, you might not even have the capability to encrypt it at all.

Oracle Advanced Security

How do you protect your data in all its various states? To encrypt data at rest, you can use Oracle Advanced Security in Oracle 12c. Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) helps prevent attacks that attempt to bypass the database and read sensitive information from data files at the operating system level, from database backups, or from database exports. Oracle Advanced Security Data Redaction complements TDE by reducing the risk of unauthorized data exposure in applications, redacting sensitive data in query results before the data leaves the database.

What about data in use or in transit? For that you have to get serious. The Oracle Supercluster's SPARC M7 processor protects, verifies, and encrypts data in use with built-in, dedicated encryption accelerators. Oracle Solaris 11 includes cryptographic APIs which the ZFS uses to benefit from AES algorithm hardware acceleration on SPARC processors.

Data protection isn't simple

Protecting your data isn't as easy as having strong, secure passwords. Even with that, your data is still unprotected and exposed. Whether that data is actively being used or if it's sitting on an old, slow SAN somewhere, it's vulnerable to a determined attacker. With Oracle 12c and Supercluster, you can protect your data from end-to-end with little to no performance compromises.

For assistance with JD Edward, please email us at