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Every night when I go to bed, I make sure the doors and windows in my house are locked. It’s not that I own anything particularly valuable (I haven’t upgraded to that 50” plasma television yet) or that I’m particularly worried that someone will break in, it’s just that I like the feeling of security that it gives me.

For years, that’s what most companies have been doing as well—trying to make sure they lock all the doors and windows that might provide unauthorized access to company information, applications or IT resources. By using everything from network firewalls to access control lists they’ve been protecting their data, databases and applications from outside intruders or malicious hackers.

But things have changed. Now organizations need to think about the insider threats as well. Today’s organizations no longer need to merely ensure that unauthorized external users can’t get into their systems, they need to make sure that only the appropriate personnel gain access to any of their systems—regardless of whether those are external users or internal users.

Of course, it’s not just that the risk or the incidence of unauthorized internal access has gone up, but that implications of such occurrences have become considerably more important—primarily because of regulatory requirements and risk management requirements.

Specifically, many organizations are being driven by the need for increased accountability and the need to response quickly and proactively to auditing requirements to take a second (and perhaps third) look at exactly how their data, their databases and their applications are secured and protected against both inside and external threats. Of particular interest for many organizations is the access that privileged users (such as super users or database administrators) have to everything from corporate data to application, database, and system log files.

For example, for years, the fundamental approach to database security revolved around AAA—authentication, authorization and access control. Of course, those aspects are still a critical part of any good security strategy, but they’re no longer adequate to address an organization’s security risks and needs.

On the one hand, the risk of internal attacks has risen over the years as the difficulty of external attacks has increased. For highly-valuable data, it can be more efficient for thieves or hackers to find better access points by obtaining employee cooperation (as in the recent stories about the inside theft of new product and marketing secrets by employees of Coca-Cola) or obtaining employment at a target organization. On the other hand, it’s not just the exposure and loss of information or compromising of systems that organizations need to consider. Instead, due to dramatically increased regulatory requirements organizations also need to ensure they can demonstrate both appropriate data security (especially in any industry or setting that deals with customer, financial, healthcare and similar data) as well as the ability to audit those data sources and provide accurate records of what happened when, and who accessed what.


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