A database firewall is a web-based software application that monitors all incoming and outgoing traffic to a database network server. It assesses all end-users’ queries are entering the database and their responses according to a specific set of in-built security rules. Then, the application decides whether to permit or deny the entry of these data patches. Its primary purpose is to act as a barrier between the database network server and incoming data traffic from external sources. Only then can it protect the sensitive information the database contains from all kinds of malicious data traffic. These could be in the form of software viruses, distributed denial of access (DDoS), or malware attacks.
How do database firewalls work?
Experienced DBAs use firewalls for database security, and when it comes to the role in preventing cyber-attacks, they work in the following manner-
- Identifying threat patterns or signatures
All system firewalls companies install in their business databases contain a series of pre-defined security protocols. These rules enable the web-based applications to recognize potential cyber-security attacks on the databases according to threat patterns known as ‘’signatures’’. The firewalls compare network data traffic in the form of the end user’s queries with these signatures during the monitoring phase. The applications immediately block the traffic coming from unknown, suspicious, and unsecure external sources. This helps to protect the sensitive information which the business databases contain.
- Conformity to the white list
Unfortunately, not all potential cyber-security attacks on business databases are similar. Many ingenious cyber-criminals come up with innovative ways to illegally gain access to information the databases contain. Generally, it is difficult for the database administrators the companies employ to stop these types of cyber-attacks. This is why the firewalls have a ‘’white-list’’ of end-user query statements which are safe. The web-based application permit database access to all queries which conform to this white-list.
- Recognizing system vulnerabilities
Many database firewalls are specially designed to recognize protocol vulnerabilities in the business database. These susceptibilities might be found in the database network servers or in the operating system. The firewalls immediately generate warning messages whenever they come across these vulnerabilities while monitoring the network traffic. The purpose of issuing the warning messages is to inform the database administrators of these issues and take immediate action. Other firewalls generate warning messages to notify the business database admins of suspicious activities, which might result in data leaks.
Types of firewalls
Esteemed name in the field of database management and administration, RemoteDBA.com says that when it comes to the installation of firewalls for your systems, you can choose from the following types-
- Packet-filtering firewalls
Packet-filtering firewalls examine the source and destination IP addresses of the network traffic entering the business database. These web-based applications only permit database access to those data packets which match their in-built security features. The two common types of packet-filtering firewalls are:
- Stateless firewalls which work independently and do not retain the information of the previously passing data packets they monitor.
- Stateful firewalls retain information within the previous data packets passing through them and are more secure.
- Proxy firewalls
Unlike traditional packet-filtering versions, proxy firewalls monitor network traffic through a business database only at the application level. These firewalls function as an intermediary between two distinct end-points in the database system. The end-users query statement requests must pass through these firewalls where they evaluate the data with their in-built security features. Like its packet-filtering counterpart, these firewalls block all data traffic coming from suspicious external sources. Proxy firewalls are suitable for monitoring network traffic to databases that operate using seven protocol data transmission channels like HTTP.
- Next-generation firewalls (NGFW)
Firewalls falling under this version integrate conventional firewall technology with other cyber-security features. These include anti-virus scanners, traffic inspection at the encryption level, and intrusion prevention mechanisms. Generally, basic firewalls only screen the headers of data packets passing through them to enter the business databases. On the other hand, next-generation firewalls go a step further and inspect the information these packets contain. Accordingly, these firewalls classify the packets as malicious or not. Then, firewalls grant or deny the data packets access to the database.
- Stateful multilayer inspection firewalls (SMLI)
These firewalls filter data packets at various layers before permitting or blocking their entry to the business databases. These include the network, transportation, and application layers. Moreover, the firewalls compare these packets with the information they retain from previous trusted ones passing through them. Like the NGFW versions, SMLI firewalls monitor and examine the entire content of these data packets. However, the firewalls only permit entry to those packets whose all three layers match their in-built security features.
- Network address translation firewalls (NAT)
Network address translation firewalls operate via a router to protect private database network servers. These firewalls work by allowing access to internet data traffic to the database network sever. However, a device that the network server contains needs to permit this data transmission. In doing so, the firewall does not disclose the database network server’s internal IP addresses on the internet. This makes it difficult for cyber-criminals to scan the network server for possible IP addresses to access the database.
How to choose the right database firewall?
Firewalls are the first lines of defense in protecting business databases from various kinds of cyber-security attacks. Companies need to careful when it comes to selecting the right one for their database network servers. It should be effective in safeguarding the confidential commercial information their business databases contain. This is why top officials of these corporate enterprises should consider the following factors:
- The in-built security features the firewall contains, like for example, an anti-virus scanner or spam filter.
- The possibility of hiring the firewall for use on trial- runs before actually buying it.
- The firewall should be compatible enough to integrate into their database network infrastructure.
- The firewall’s price should be within their budget.
Experienced DBAs state that firewalls’ database security installation helps both large and small business owners alike. It is prudent to consult skilled DBAs for a comprehensive health check of the database to detect security loopholes. The right type of firewall and other custom security measures are embraced.