Oracle database admins acknowledge security gaps

Survey shows 75 percent of organizations do not have a means to prevent users from tampering with sensitive information stored in databases

Database security is rife with pitfalls, according to 430 Oracle database administrators surveyed by the Independent Oracle Users Group.

According to the results of the survey released last month, fewer than 30 percent encrypt personally identifiable information in all their databases, while about 75 percent acknowledge their organizations do not have a means to prevent privileged database users from reading or tampering with human resources, financial, or other business application data in their databases.

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"There are still a lot of holes," says Andrew Flower, president of the IOUG president and vice president LoganBritton. "One of the biggest risks is stealing data internally," he acknowledges, saying the survey shows organizations aren't applying sufficient resources to improve security, and that there's been little change in the results from last year's survey.

About two-thirds of the survey respondents admitted there was no way in their organizations to detect or prove that the database administrators were not abusing their privileges.

In addition, close to half of the respondents said a user with "common desktop tools" either could gain unauthorized direct access to sensitive information stored in databases or they weren't sure about it. Another 64 percent said they don't monitor database activity -- and less than one-third of those monitoring are watching for sensitive reads and writes.

The IOUG respondents responding in the survey hail from the telecom sector, education, government, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and the retail industry. A fair number work in organizations with large numbers of databases, with 35 percent claiming their organizations have 11 to 100 databases, and 13 percent having more than 1,000 databases.

About six in 10 said they don't offshore the database application administrative function, 5 percent didn't know but the remainder responded they did offshore to some extent.

Patch management is problematic for Oracle database administrators, with 37 percent saying they generally patch within one to three months, though most patch after three months.

In the survey, 6 percent said they were aware of an enterprise data breach, compromise or tampering over the past year, 16 percent said they didn't know and 79 percent said they weren't aware of it.

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This story, "Oracle database admins acknowledge security gaps" was originally published by Network World.