How the Cloud and Automation Impact Database Security

There has been a great deal of talk around database automation in the past few months, especially as it relates to organizational cybersecurity.

Companies around the world are looking for new ways to streamline their processes, and cloud-based automation tools are quickly becoming a popular solution.  They are simple to deploy, cost-efficient, reliable, scalable and enhance information management. For example, Oracle, who announced its cloud-based autonomous database last May, considers its cloud application suite strategy to be a direct contributor to its recent success in Oracle applications.

When it comes to database management, automation can eliminate the human labour associated with database tuning, security, backups, updates, and other routine management tasks. It simplifies operations and allows companies to stay focused on their core business.

But as more businesses move from traditional software to cloud solutions—and as more software vendors automate monitoring, testing, patching, and tuning—many question the impact on database security. While database automation won’t completely absolve you of your security-related responsibilities, it will certainly play a role in how you manage them.

Here are a few security tips to keep in mind when automating your database in the cloud.

Your existing security policies and tools won’t work in the same way in the cloud.

The on-premise world is much different than that of the cloud, especially when it comes to security.  For example, in on-premise environments, there’s no question that anything that happens within the system is owned by the company’s security team. You probably have existing people, processes, and platforms in place to address every part of your database security. However, in the cloud, you have a shared security responsibility with your cloud provider. Though Gartner predicts that just 5 percent of security failures are at the fault of the cloud provider, it’s a fact of the cloud environment your business must learn to operate with and integrate into security policies.

Your risk of data breaches will decrease.

Organizations of all sizes are becoming well versed with the risks associated with data theft, misuse of data, and inappropriate access to data. While the importance of securing data continues to grow, many organizations are unable to expand their resources to meet the demand. On average, many organizations wait six months before applying security patches to critical systems. A patch is a small piece of software that a company deploys whenever a security flaw is uncovered. Like the name implies, it repairs the vulnerability, which otherwise can be exploited by malicious hackers. Even worse, the majority of organizations that suffered a data breach, attribute the incident to a known, unpatched vulnerability. Finding a tool or solution with automated patch management makes it much easier for businesses to stay on top of their security. Rather than forcing downtime to reboot critical systems, the database can automatically repair security vulnerabilities as they arise.

Your database administrators (DBAs) will shift responsibilities.  

While your database security might not continue to be reliant on DBAs, they will still continue to play a vital role in database operations. Like technology, the role of DBAs will continue to evolve and grow. As Blake Angove, director of technology services at LaSalle Networks states, “As more businesses are moving to the cloud, it’s changing what [DBAs’] roles and tasks look like. Automation is probably making them a little nervous, but the DBA role isn’t going away—it’s evolving.”

The use of the cloud is taking DBAs away from some of the tasks they might be used to doing, like being on-call 24/7 or managing backups, but it also allows them to be more involved in helping their business leverage data. They can take a more proactive role in problem-solving, whether it be fixing a slow database or working with data science teams. DBAs can utilize their data expertise to add significant value to the company. After all, they know the data coming in and out of the organization better than anyone. Rather than just managing the database, DBAs can assess how the company can better use that data.

You will improve cyber hygiene.

Cyber hygiene, much like personal hygiene, refers to the practices and steps that users of computers and other devices take to maintain system health and improve online security. Practising good cyber hygiene involves properly configuring the system, including patching, but also requires encrypting the data within the system, controlling access to that data, and monitoring access to that data. Automating as much of that work as possible not only makes it easier for organizations to continuously put forth their best efforts toward cyber hygiene, without added effort, but also ensures that proper security measures are taken at all times.

Ultimately, automating business processes not only streamlines operations, but it makes for simpler security management too. With risks like unpatched systems looming over organizations at all times, IT staff can’t manage databases alone. With an expert staff and automation working hand in hand, organizations can elevate their database security and bring operations to the next level.

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