What is a Database Audit?
Keeping your data safe and easy to access is essential to keep your organization compliant with government and industry policies, manage internal policies, protect against cyber security attacks, and simply ensure your data performs appropriately. To do this, you need to complete a database audit.
In this article, we will explore the different types of database audits, including security auditing, compliance auditing, data auditing, and configuration auditing. We will also discuss these audits' benefits, such as identifying vulnerabilities, ensuring compliance with regulations, and tracking data access and modifications.
Additionally, we will discuss using the database audit tool Lynis, which can help identify common issues and provide recommendations on how to fix them. This article provides a comprehensive guide on the database audit's importance, benefits, and process.
What Is a Database Audit and Why Is It Important?
A database audit requires analysis of your database, including users, their permissions, and access to data to ensure compliance with GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, and SOX, system integrity, penetration evaluation, and other security vetting.
It’s essential to perform a database audit to ensure that your organization complies with laws and regulations, to check data integrity and database performance, and to protect against cyber threats. In addition, a database audit performed regularly can help your organization achieve business continuity and overall data reliability.
The Different Types of Database Audits
There are multiple types of database audits, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Security Auditing – Security auditing verifies that robust passwords are in place, ensures that sensitive data is protected through encryption, and confirms that only those with proper clearance can access the information.
- Compliance Auditing – Ensures compliance with industry regulations and legal requirements such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, and SOX. It involves reviewing the database to confirm that proper measures are in place to protect data and that the organization is adhering to relevant laws and regulations about data management.
- Data Auditing - A data audit monitors and logs data access and modifications. It allows you to trace who accessed the data and what changes were made, including identifying individuals responsible for adding, modifying, or deleting data. It also enables tracking of when these changes are made.
- Configuration Auditing - Configuration auditing involves monitoring and tracking the actions taken by users and database administrators, including creating and modifying database objects, managing user accounts, and making changes to the database's configuration. In addition, it covers system-level changes such as database software updates, operating system modifications, and hardware changes.
Additional types of database audits can be more granular such as SQL statement, SQL privilege, and schema object audits. Or, more widely, database audits can be to review administrative activity, data access and modification, user denials or login failures, and system-wide changes.
The Benefits of Database Audit
The benefits of a database audit include security, compliance, and data integrity. A database audit can help you ensure your organization is not vulnerable to potential threats, remain compliant with relevant laws and regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, and SOX, and ensure data is accurate, complete, and consistent.
A database audit can also help with business continuity by making sure the database is available and accessible at all times. In addition, should an issue occur where a database becomes corrupt or attacked, a database audit can ensure that a disaster recovery plan is in place.
With proper auditing and tracking, which includes detailed records of all activities that have taken place in a database, you can quickly discover common issues during a database audit. By resolving these errors, you can increase the performance of your database, which would otherwise cause the database to be slow due to slow queries, blocked processes, and other bottlenecks.
Common Issues Found During a Database Audit
Common issues found during a database audit depend on the state of your database and how it is maintained. Some common problems you may encounter include a lack of security, such as weak passwords and other security vulnerabilities that can lead to potential attacks, compliance violations, data integrity issues, performance problems, and configuration errors. Some database audits reveal access by unauthorized users, which can also lead to security vulnerabilities.
How to Perform a Database Audit
Performing a database audit depends on the needs and requirements of your organization. Below are four key areas you should focus on when performing a database audit.
Audit Access and Authentication
Analyze data on user login attempts and review access control settings, including authentication methods.
Audit User and Administrator
Collect and analyze data on user and administrator actions to review what they’ve done, including whether they have created and modified database objects, user accounts, and any other configuration changes.
Monitor Security Activity
Collect and analyze data on security-related events, including firewall logs, intrusion detection system alerts, and system-wide changes, to monitor for unusual or suspicious activity.
Database Audit Vulnerability and Threat Detection
Identify and assess vulnerabilities and threats to the database, such as unpatched software, passwords that need to be stronger, and access by unauthorized users.
Database administrators use tools such as Lynis, a security auditing tool for Linux, to help with database audits. It is free, open source, and can be modified or extended based on your preferences. To identify and prioritize security issues and vulnerabilities, Lynis provides detailed reports of your database’s security-related configuration settings. As a result, database administrators can schedule regular security assessments and identify potential issues early.
How to Correct the Issues Discovered during a Database Audit
Correcting issues discovered during a database audit depends on the type of database audited. The first thing a database auditor needs to do is review the audit report and understand the identified issues. Then create a plan of action to address the issues. Before making any corrections to a database, it is recommended that you make backups in case you need to revert the database to its original state.
Resolve issues by applying patches and updates and ensuring the database is running the latest version. Additionally, more advanced changes can be made in the database’s configuration settings for security, such as authentication and access control. Database administrators can also reorganize database objects such as tables and indexes to improve performance, as this can also resolve issues.
Once your changes and updates are made, monitor the database carefully to ensure no additional issues are discovered. For best practice, performing a database audit after making changes and updates ensures the database is running properly.
Performing a database audit should be done regularly. With the help of tools like Lynis, you can schedule database audits as frequently as needed, which can help you protect your database data and help increase database performance.
Since MySQL is a popular database management system (DBMS) with Liquid Web customers, knowing how to Create a MySQL Database on Linux via Command Line helps users get started. The best practice is performing regular backups on your MySQL database in case you need to restore your data, which should be part of regular database maintenance.
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About the Author: Ronald Caldwell
Ron is a Technical Writer at Liquid Web working with the Marketing team. He has 9+ years of experience in Technology. He obtained an Associate of Science in Computer Science from Prairie State College in 2015. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart and lives in Michigan with her and their children.
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