The Impact of COVID-19 on Database Security

by Apr 27, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing havoc in many areas of society across the globe. It has been the cause of thousands of deaths and has stressed our healthcare systems to the breaking point. The measures taken to slow the spread of the disease have decimated large segments of the economy. All around the world, people are trying to come to grips with a new normal that is yet to reveal its true form. With treatments or a vaccine at least months if not years away, these problems will be with us for the foreseeable future.

As if dealing with the physical and economic effects of the virus is not enough, the security of IT systems and databases is also under attack. Some malicious cybercriminals are exhibiting even lower moral standards than usual and are using the fear and confusion caused by the coronavirus to further their attempts to compromise valuable data resources.

Cyberattacks and the Coronavirus

There are always entities that try to use the misfortune of others for malign purposes, so it should not come as a surprise that the virus has spawned a rash of focused attacks. It is an unfortunate and sad example of the dark side of human nature. The rogue programs they produce may be designed to steal personally identifiable information (PII) and other data assets. In some cases, the goal of their exploits appears to be to cause more confusion and take down systems that are vital to fighting the virus.

Hackers devoid of any semblance of conscience are taking advantage of three factors that contribute to an environment conducive to successfully delivering malware.

  • Gaps in the security provided to remote workers are prevalent and may not be easily addressed by their organizations. Many employees are working from home for the first time and have not been adequately set up to supply the level of security that their jobs demand.

  • Increased levels of anxiety lower the defenses and make it more likely that a dangerous link will be clicked. Workers confined to their homes may find themselves using their corporate devices or accounts to access private email or social media sites. Enticing a click on the wrong link can expose enterprise databases to a malware infection.

  • Using COVID-19 as a targeted phishing lure has proven to be a successful tactic for cybercriminals. Embedding malware links in coronavirus-related communication has become a very popular delivery method. People are starved for information and offering new statistics or treatment possibilities is sure to get a high percentage of responses that can help spread malware and compromise enterprise data.

Attacks Focusing on the Healthcare Infrastructure

In addition to the generic cyberattacks that are trading on the disruption caused by COVID-19, some entities are focusing on organizations within the healthcare industry and infrastructure. This fact illustrates that the security of any enterprise involved with healthcare needs to be a top priority of IT departments. A couple of examples should convince any skeptics that the risk is real.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recently fended off an attack by a hacker group known as DarkHotel. A spoofed website was created that posed as an agency login portal in an attempt to steal passwords. Fortunately, this effort failed. Rest assured, it will not be the last of its kind.

  • Hammersmith Medicines Research (HMR) is a UK-based medical facility that will be conducting tests on COVID-19 vaccines. It was recently hit by the Maze ransomware variant despite assurances by the criminals behind the malware that they would refrain from attacking medical organizations. HMR was able to defeat the attack and restore its systems without paying the ransom, but private information on more than 2,300 patients was compromised and leaked on the dark web.

While all organizations need to bolster their cyber defenses to combat the wave of malware, those with sensitive information in their databases need to exercise extreme caution.

Tools to Protect SQL Server Databases

SQL Server is a very popular database platform and is widely used to store personal information on employees, customers, and patients. Protecting these valuable assets requires the right software tools. IDERA’s SQL Security Suite provides database teams with audit and security capabilities that allow them to confidently manage their SQL Server environments despite the prevalence of cyber threats.

The SQL Security Suite is comprised of two complementary products. In tandem, they enable you to identify the sensitive data located in your SQL Servers and protect them from unauthorized use.

SQL Compliance Manager gives your team the ability to perform several functions that are essential when storing sensitive personal information. The tool enables you to:

  • Monitor, alert, and log database access;
  • Scan databases to locate sensitive data resources;
  • Maintain compliance with privacy regulations such as HIPAA;
  • Create reliable audit reports and records.

SQL Secure enables you to strengthen and enforce permissions required to gain entry into your SQL Servers. The tool gives you the capacity to:

  • Analyze and generate reports on user permissions;
  • Identify potential vulnerabilities that can be proactively addressed;
  • Rank security levels and set strong baseline policies.

SQL Servers located in on-premises databases as well as hosted with cloud providers are supported by the SQL Security Suite. If your organization uses this popular database platform, these tools can help strengthen your environment and protect the valuable data resources on which it depends. It can help alleviate one of the many forms of worry that we are all experiencing daily.