TMCnet Feature
January 13, 2022

Common Database Security Vulnerabilities

Database security
is essential for the protection of valuable and sensitive data. It keeps it safe from abuse, unauthorized updates, and access. Database vulnerabilities can occur due to insider threats and human error. Harm from data breaches on your business depends on compromised intellectual property like inventions and trade secrets, brand reputation damage, non-compliance fines and penalties, breach repair, and customer notification costs.

Hackers find and target many vulnerabilities, including database management software. While database software vendors provide security patches to handle these vulnerabilities, failure to implement them on time increases exposure. Here are the common database security vulnerabilities.

1.Poor database encryption

Considering your database as a backend part of your system and ignoring its security leaves it vulnerable to hacking. The database has network interfaces that hackers can easily track if your software security is poor. To ensure sensitive data stored in your database isn’t exposed to threats, look for the best ways to encrypt data and implement them. Don't forget to consider the required permissions and controls and apply as needed.

2.Unnecessary access privileges

Granting your employees default database privileges beyond their job description requirements leads to abuse. For example, a bank staff whose role is to change account holder contact details can take advantage of excess database privileges to increase a colleague's account balance. The company should control database access privileges and limit or disable access for employees who leave or change departments.

3.Database injection attacks

SQL injections focus on traditional database systems, while NoSQL targets big data systems. Even though SQL injections can’t technically penetrate big data as it doesn’t rely on SQL-based technology, they are still prone to this attack. A successful input can grant an attacker unrestricted access to a whole database for both SQL and NoSQL injection attacks. Consider implementing the fixes released by vendors to curb these injection attack issues.

4.Needlessly enabled database features

Database installations come with extra packages that most likely go unutilized. To reduce database attack surfaces, organizations should disable or uninstall packages they don’t use and won’t need in the future. This reduces attack risks and also streamlines patch management.

5.Denial of service (DoS / DDoS) attacks

In denial of service attacks, attackers flood the database server with a lot of requests, making it difficult for the server to meet legitimate requests from real users. This mostly destabilizes the server or crashes it. In distributed denial of service attacks, the flood of requests originates from multiple servers, becoming challenging to stop the attack.

6.Backup storage media exposure

Backup storage media is mainly unprotected, resulting in several security breaches which have led to the theft of backup tapes and discs. Failure to audit and track administrator activities with low-level access to valuable information can also risk your data. A database security best practice is to take the necessary measures to secure sensitive backup copies and track the most privileged users.

7.Buffer overflow exploitation

Buffer overflow happens when a process tries to input more information into a fixed-length memory block than it’s permitted to hold. Using the excess data, attackers can form a base to launch attacks.


Database threats are aggravated by infrastructure sprawl, growing data volumes, cybersecurity skills inadequacy, and more stringent regulatory measures. Consider implementing database security best practices to curb security threats.

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