MySQL Database Security Tips and Best Practices


MySQL database security is an exercise that requires vigilance from database administrators (DBAs). 

Security is a concern of all information technology (IT) professionals these days. The news often reports data breaches and ransomware attacks that cripple businesses and put sensitive information resources at risk.

DBAs are integral to the security of an organization’s MySQL environment. They are front-line defenders and have a unique insight into the operation of their databases. This includes monitoring who has access to sensitive data and when that data is being used.

Following are the top tips for improving MySQL Database Security … 

Trust Nobody; Threats Are Everywhere

Data is one of the most valuable assets for modern organizations. As a result, databases containing sensitive information are often targeted by cybercriminals. Many MySQL databases are prime targets for such an attack.

To improve security DBAs have to be diligence in protecting their databases from external and internal threats. At one time the main danger to enterprise databases was external malicious factors. Yet, internal data breaches are becoming more common. From the perspective of an IT security team, the distinction is irrelevant. 

An attack by an insider can be more damaging than one perpetrated by random hackers. Employees, contractors, and trusted business sources can identify sensitive systems and high-value targets easier than outsiders. Individuals with elevated privileges can run rampant through databases and compromise personal customer and employee information. In some cases, insiders can be responsible for long-term intrusions that can be difficult to detect.

The Zero Trust Security Model

Companies can protect themselves against internal threats by implementing the Zero Trust Security Model. This model is a set of design principles combined with a cybersecurity and system management strategy. The model acknowledges that threats exist inside and outside of enterprise network boundaries.and focuses on access to sensitive data assets.

The Zero Trust Security Model is built on the following three core principles:

  • Verify explicitly – All access to sensitive data needs to be authenticated and authorized using multiple dynamic and static attributes.
  • Use least privileged access – Limit user access using just-in-time and just-enough-access policies and data protection to secure systems and productivity. 
  • Assume breach – Defend resources assuming that breach has already occurred. Deny access by default and continuously monitor all configuration changes, resource accesses, and network traffic for suspicious activity.

The Zero Trust strategy bases all decisions about data usage on the concept of least privileged access.

  • Coordinated and aggressive system monitoring, system management, and defensive operations capabilities;
  • Assuming all network traffic and requests for sensitive information may be malicious;
  • Assuming all devices and infrastructure components may be compromised;
  • Understanding that there is risk involved in all access to critical resources.

DBAs cannot be too careful about the security of their databases. The threats are real and can manifest themselves in many unexpected ways. 

Monitor Everything You Can

Another tip to improve the security of MySQL databases is to track everything possible. DBAs must have insight into who is using and accessing sensitive information in a database. Monitoring is an essential part of the Zero Trust Security Model. It is instrumental in identifying unusual or suspicious activity occurring in MySQL databases. 

There are many potential security risks within MySQL environments. It is crucial to identify attempts to access sensitive data by unauthorized users. Queries that behave in an unusual way may indicate more risks. DBAs should also watch for unexplained attempts to transfer data out of the server. This may be a crytomining malware infection.

Cryptomining in itself does not put data resources at risk. The miners are after system resources. However, it does show your defense penetration which may lead to further infection down the road. Cryptomining can also cause performance issues, so it’s best to remove the offenders as soon as possible.

DBAs should configure alerts for their unique MySQL databases and environments. The combination of real-time alerting and historical data monitoring, allows teams to identify security issues and address them. 

A Versatile and Robust Monitoring Tool

SQL Diagnostic Manager for MySQL provides all the functionality required by DBAs to monitor who is accessing their MySQL databases and the sensitive information stored in them. The tool works seamlessly with on-premises MySQL instances as well as cloud-hosted and cloud-managed MySQL databases. It allows teams to monitor hybrid environments with a single tool that can create custom charts and dashboards to highlight the most relevant information. 

The capabilities of SQL Diagnostic Manager for MySQL fit perfectly with the Zero Trust Security Model’s requirement for robust and reliable monitoring. Adding it to their software toolbox gives MySQL database teams a reliable tool for improving the security of their systems. It also is a great performance monitoring tool that will alert based on best practices and user-defined thresholds.

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