Security Best Practices for Cloud Database Management Systems (DBMS)

Organizations are increasingly adopting a cloud-first approach to their database management systems or DBMS for improved performance and efficiencies. With the move to the cloud comes greater flexibility and scalability but also greater responsibility in managing potential security risks. To support their security measures, enterprises can decide to self-manage their database, or can turn to fully-managed options, also known as database-as-a-service or DBaaS. In either case, data protection should be a top consideration for enterprises looking to deploy in the cloud, including hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

Common security threats in the cloud database
Gartner research mentions that 75% of all organizations will restructure risk and security governance by 2023 — a jump from just 15% currently. This points to the hikes in security threats arising as many organizations accelerate their digital transformation. Common threats can include data breaches, unauthorised access to the data source, cyberattacks and more. Additional challenges can include data exposure and exposed APIs, which occurs when data is more accessible for a threat actor to obtain due to programming errors, weak encryption or lack of encryption. Attackers look for the exposed databases to infiltrate data and gain financial advantage. Exposed APIs can result in a threat actor gaining access to the API and gaining control over the data.

Cloud databases may run on servers that, when not properly secured, can be exploited by attackers while compromising the OS runtime. Moreover, cloud databases can also be prone to attacks such as SQL injection, which can lead to application compromises, escalation of access privileges for user and service accounts, exposure of database details, and other issues. As a result, attackers can compromise cloud environments via traditional application-centric attacks. To protect the database from being compromised, robust data security models need to be adopted by DBaaS providers and cloud service providers with a shared responsibility between the parties.

Deciding on a data security model for DBaaS
When adopting a data security model with service providers, several strategies can be incorporated. The available models enable direct access to databases or separate the control plane and available access to the providers. The latter model reduces the exposure of internal systems and accounts from third parties, allowing organisations to reduce the attack surface and risk.
Moreover, transparent data encryption can aid in the safeguarding of confidential data and other cloud data assets from accidental exposure and unauthorised access by attackers lacking the necessary decryption keys. Apart from these practices of cloud security, there is a provision for regular audits. The logs can be sent to a central security management system in order to monitor suspicious or malicious attacks. Overall, the organisation needs to create a unified security architecture that can prevent security breaches. If an enterprise follows these methods, they will be better prepared against a breach or an attack.

Adopting open source and SBOMs
Postgres, as an open source project, by its nature allows for community review and feedback unlike closed source products. With Postgres, the open source community and the individual who monitors the database can facilitate a more transparent approach. These cycles become easier when the organisation considers maintaining a SBOM (Software Bill of Materials). A software bill of materials (SBOM) enumerates all of the elements in a software package; with a special emphasis on open-source and third-party codebase components. SBOMs are an effective method for establishing more secure open-source software because they provide organisations with complete visibility into the technology they are adopting. Along with this, software updates must be done regularly to reduce data vulnerability and improve enterprises’ cybersecurity posture.

All things considered
Sticking with the traditional vendors and their promises of security automation does not necessarily guarantee data security. Moving legacy databases from on-premises to the cloud will not only help organisations streamline business operations, but will also ensure data security with best cloud protection practices. Kubernetes is a technology that can support this process. Moving to the cloud doesn't streamline operations alone, changing the application platform architecture is what makes the difference. Using Kubernetes and aligning development practices to take advantage of this model can help optimize development but also allows security to be baked into the development pipelines, and reduces human and technical errors. If organisations want to be more innovative, they can consider open source to simplify data migration, dynamic responsiveness, and additional cloud security. This will be a significant option to reduce the cost, as it provides freedom to integrate security solutions per the requirements while making the business agile.