Database firewalls refer to web-based systems designed to avert unauthorized access to sensitive information a database contains. Companies can implement suitable firewalls in their business database network servers either as a hardware component or a software application. The primary function of database firewalls is to monitor data transmission passing to and from the databases.
The system examines these SQL queries and immediately blocks those that do not meet specified security criteria. This helps prevent individuals with malicious intentions from gaining access to the information on databases.
They can be hackers wanting to defraud the companies or discontent employees who want to disrupt their commercial activities.
How do firewalls work in protecting business databases?
Experienced DBAs state that database firewalls are mandatory for database security for a business. The firewalls which companies use to protect their business databases contain a series of pre-defined customized security features.
These attributes are based on previous audits cyber-security specialists conduct to identify past and potential threat patterns to companies’ databases. Each of these threat patterns is individually known as a ‘signature.’
When end-users enter SQL query statements into the databases, the firewalls compare the data with these signatures. In doing so, they scrutinize the source and destination IP addresses in the information.
If the IP addresses match the signatures, the firewall blocks the information. The systems will generate and show ‘error messages’ warning the database administrator of potential threats. Moreover, cyber-security and DBA experts constantly upgrade the security features when they come to know of new and potentially lethal cyber threats.
Companies are aware that it is possible for cyber-security specialists they hire to foresee all potential database security threats.
This is why the firewalls these experts come up with contain a white list of safe SQL commands. If the queries the end-user types into the business databases contain any of these commands, the firewalls do not block them. Firewalls even protect business databases from potential database security threats by:
- Identifying protocol vulnerabilities in the database operating system and notifying the database administrator to take necessary action,
- Monitor and highlight suspicious SQL query commands to the database administrator rather than blocking them right away, and
- Continuously check all responses to the SQL query command the end-user enters to prevent data leaks,
Reasons why companies should install and operate database firewalls
Skilled experts from credible database management and administration company, RemoteDBA state that companies should install and operate firewalls to protect their business databases for the following reasons:
- To monitor incoming and outgoing data traffic on the databases to avert data breaches,
- Prevent unauthorized Internet connections or software applications hackers might use to infiltrate the database,
- To safeguard the database network from illicit acts discontent employees might restore to without the business management’s knowledge, and
- Ensure only employees and the top managerial personnel with the proper authorization can access the business databases.
Types of firewall techniques
Companies generally employ the following firewall techniques to safeguard the sensitive information on their business databases:
Static Packet Filtering
Static packet filtering involves regulating data access to databases by examining the queries based on certain criteria.
These include IP source address, IP destination address, source port number, and destination port number. It blocks all queries which do not meet these specific conditions as they may contain viruses. This firewall technique is suitable for database networking servers falling under the layer 3 or 4 open systems interconnection (OSI) model.
Stateful Packet Filtering
In this technique, the firewall monitors the sessions taking place in the network database server. When the session commences, the system records the IP source address, IP destination address, source, and destination port numbers. By default, it denies access to all data traffic having discrepancies in these transmission criteria. This is because the information is coming from an unknown and untrustworthy network server.
Proxy firewalls work by creating a socket opening in a database networking server. This ensures smooth data transmission to various computers making up the system. Only one of these computers has an Internet connection, and the others use it as a gateway. All database queries and their responses have to pass through this gateway.
In doing so, the firewall filters, caches, regulates and logs the SQL queries. This is to ensure there are no viruses or other forms of cyber-threats in them.
Application inspection firewalls penetrate the packets constituting all software applications.
The systems identify the information in the source and destination parameters of the packets. These include the IP source address, IP destination address, source port number, and destination port number. The firewalls translate the information to ensure it meets the specified security criteria. If this is not the case, they block all communication to and from the applications.
This firewall technique operates at layer 2 of the database network servers from the open system interconnection (OSI) model category.
This implies the system has two interfaces that function as a bridge and configures to a single IP management address. All data users transmit it in SQL queries to access the database servers that pass through this firewall. If the information does not meet the necessary security parameters, the firewall blocks it.
Network address translators (NAT)
Companies implement this firewall technique via a router. The firewall translates SQL queries’ private IP addresses to the database network server into their public equivalent. This helps to reveal the source IP address of the queries without their knowledge. The firewall will block the information if it seems suspicious and does not meet certain security criteria.
This disrupts potential cybercriminals ‘ access to sensitive data on the business database.
Therefore, when it comes to database security, firewalls play a crucial role in preventing cyber-crimes. Make sure to hair the best ones. However, a business must ensure that skilled DBA experts in the field install the right firewall. However, small companies should never overlook the need to install firewalls as they are vulnerable to cyber-criminals and hackers.