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Notes > Database Systems > Database Security Threats and Countermeasures

Databases need to have level of security in order to protect the database against both malicious and accidental threats. A threat is any type of situation that will adversely affect the database system. Some factors that drive the need for security are as follows:

- Theft and fraud
- Confidentiality
- Integrity
- Privacy
- Database availability

Threats to database security can come from many sources. People are a substantial source of database threats. Different types of people can pose different threats. Users can gain unauthorised access through the use of another person's account. Some users may act as hackers and/or create viruses to adversely affect the performance of the system. Programmers can also pose similar threats. The Database Administrator can also cause problems by not imposing an adequate security policy.

Some threats related to the hardware of the system are as follows:

- Equipment failure
- Deliberate equipment damage (e.g. arson, bombs)
- Accidental / unforeseen equipment damage (e.g. fire, flood)
- Power failure
- Equipment theft

Threats can exist over the communication networks that an organisation uses. Techniques such as wire tapping, cable disruption (cutting / disconnecting), and electronic interference can all be used to disrupt services or reveal private information.


Some countermeasures that can be employed are outlined below:

- Access Controls (can be Discretionary or Mandatory)
- Authorisation (granting legitimate access rights)
- Authentication (determining whether a user is who they claim to be)
- Backup
- Journaling (maintaining a log file - enables easy recovery of changes)
- Encryption (encoding data using an encryption algorithm)
- RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks - protects against data loss due to disk failure)
- Polyinstantiation (data objects that appear to have different values to users with different access rights / clearance)
- Views (virtual relations which can limit the data viewable by certain users)

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