Challenges of Database Security
Considering the vast growth in volume and speed of threats to databases and information assets, research efforts need to be devoted to the following issues: data quality, intellectual property rights, and database survivability. These are only some of the main challenges that researchers in database security are trying to address.
1. Data Quality
The database community needs techniques and organizational solutions to assess and attest the quality of data. These techniques may include simple mechanisms such as quality stamps that are posted on Web sites. We also need techniques that provide more effective integrity semantics verification and tools for the assessment of data quality, based on techniques such as record linkage. Application-level recovery techniques are also needed for automatically repairing incorrect data. The ETL (extract, transform, load) tools widely used to load data in data warehouses (see Section 29.4) are presently grappling with these issues.
2. Intellectual Property Rights
With the widespread use of the Internet and intranets, legal and informational aspects of data are becoming major concerns of organizations. To address these concerns, watermarking techniques for relational data have been proposed. The main purpose of digital watermarking is to protect content from unauthorized duplication and distribution by enabling provable ownership of the content. It has traditionally relied upon the availability of a large noise domain within which the object can be altered while retaining its essential properties. However, research is needed to assess the robustness of such techniques and to investigate different approaches aimed at preventing intellectual property rights violations.
3. Database Survivability
Database systems need to operate and continue their functions, even with reduced capabilities, despite disruptive events such as information warfare attacks. A DBMS, in addition to making every effort to prevent an attack and detecting one in the event of occurrence, should be able to do the following:
Confinement. Take immediate action to eliminate the attacker’s access to the system and to isolate or contain the problem to prevent further spread.
Damage assessment. Determine the extent of the problem, including failed functions and corrupted data.
Reconfiguration. Reconfigure to allow operation to continue in a degraded mode while recovery proceeds.
Repair. Recover corrupted or lost data and repair or reinstall failed system functions to reestablish a normal level of operation.
Fault treatment. To the extent possible, identify the weaknesses exploited in the attack and take steps to prevent a recurrence.
The goal of the information warfare attacker is to damage the organization’s operation and fulfillment of its mission through disruption of its information systems. The specific target of an attack may be the system itself or its data. While attacks that bring the system down outright are severe and dramatic, they must also be well timed to achieve the attacker’s goal, since attacks will receive immediate and concentrated attention in order to bring the system back to operational condition, diagnose how the attack took place, and install preventive measures.
To date, issues related to database survivability have not been sufficiently investigated. Much more research needs to be devoted to techniques and methodologies that ensure database system survivability.