Database Auditing to Ensure Security and Compliance

With many government regulations and organizational practices to be followed in terms of data security, the pressure intensifies on corporate database managers to ensure optimum compliance with these regulations. Data professionals need to be more vigilant in terms of the techniques they use in order to protect their company’s most crucial data assets. It is also important to monitor and make sure that there is sufficient protection in place. These requirements are now driving improvements in terms of using software applications and technological methods for database auditing.


Database auditing is an advanced process that helps you answer the question of who all have access to data? Who may be changing the data? When is the data changed? And what are the procedures to change data? Data administrators’ ability to answer these questions can really make or break the data compliance requirements. As of late, it may also be necessary to review and present the data in greater detail to the government agencies for a compliance check.


Studies have shown that the majority of the threats related to database security are internal in many industries. Some studies have also indicated that internal threats comprise around 60% to 80% of the data’s security issues. Some of the most critical security threats conform to current or ex-employees for whom there is valid access to the database management systems. In this case, auditing becomes more crucial as you need to find any unauthorized access from the authorized users.


The audit trials will help enterprise database owners promote data integrity and enable the detection of any security breaches. For this reason, auditing is also known as the intrusion detection system. Standard audit systems may serve as a shield against the users hampering enterprise data as it helps to identify the infiltrators. There are a lot of situations where an audit trail is useful, whereas the company’s business practices and policies will dictate their comprehensive ability for tracing each and every piece of data accessed by each and every user.


Levels of auditing


You may also be required to generate detailed reports on an ongoing basis, which you can gain the ability to find the root causes of data integrity issues and tackle them. Ethical data auditing facilities will permit auditing of the databases at various levels within the DBMS. For example, the audit can be performed at an object level, program level, and user level. One major challenge with the existing database management system audit facilities is the degradation of performance.


Audit trails produced should be detailed enough to capture before and after images of any changes. However, capturing so much information, particularly in the BAC systems, makes some performance compromise real-time. The audit trails may also be stored somewhere, which is problematic when many changes are occurring in the database. Therefore, an advanced auditing facility should be needed to select audit records to minimize any harm to the performance or major storage problems. To ensure compliance with database management best practices, you can avail the assistance of external remote administration providers like


Auditing techniques for enterprise databases


There are various techniques, which are being used in order to audit the database structures. Here, we will discuss three of them in light of the pros and cons of each. The most basic technique used is risk-based auditing. This is a technique that is built directly onto the native DBMS. Parameters and commands of risk-based auditing are customs set in order to audit the DBMS, which helps to cut and paste the audit records when any activity occurs against audit objectives.

This auditing technique is also applicable to Microsoft Access Database hosted on virtual desktop cloud.

Each of the DBMS offers unique auditing capabilities, whereas some common items can be set as ordered parameters as below.


  • Log in and log off items – You can access both successful as well as unsuccessful items.
  • DBMS server restarts.
  • User-related commands.
  • Issues and system admin privileges.
  • Integrity violation items.
  • Data select, delete, update operations.
  • Execution of stored procedures.
  • Any unsuccessful attempts to access the database or database tables.
  • Any changes to the system tables.
  • Raw-level operations.


These techniques’ fundamental problem includes the high potential of performance degradation when the audit tracking is running. But is also a possibility that the database schema may need to be modified and any insufficient granularity of audit control to be monitored for reach.


Another very commonly used technique is database scanning in order to pass database transaction logs. All the database management systems use transaction logs in order to capture any modification of data from time to time for recovery purposes. There is software that interprets these laws and helps identify what type of data was changed, users, and when. There are many ways to disable logging, which cause the modifications to be lost permanently. The performance issues related to scanning volumes of log files which look only at specific information to audit and the difficulty of retaining blocks over longer periods for auditing are the major concerns.


The questions which you need to consider


While considering database access auditing for the organization, you should also compare the types of customers for which you want to get solutions. Here are some key questions to ask. 


  • Who has access to the data? 
  • Which time and date the data access had happened?
  • What type of programs or software is used to access the data?
  • From which location was the access done?
  • What SQL query was issued to access data? 
  • Was the request successfully executed, and if it is the case, how many rows and columns of data were fetched?
  • If there was a request for modification, what type of data was changed and in what volume?


There are a lot of details hiding behind each of such questions. A solid database auditing solution must provide independent mechanisms for longer-term storage of the products and access to the audit details. An ideal solution should also offer canned queries for a common type of database query, but the audit information must be accessible using industry standards.


You have to closely consider all these challenges and priorities while designing a database auditing process to confirm security compliance.

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