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What is Database Security? Importance And Best Practices

June 26, 2024

database security

Databases become complex quickly and protecting the data they hold poses a challenge for many IT teams. As both a mix of technological systems and practical steps, database security must be done correctly  to protect critical data from threats to your system and your business.

Not only are database security solutions designed to protect the data held within, they also maintain the database management system itself, along with the applications, systems, servers, and other infrastructure connected to the database.

For most IT teams, using dedicated database security software is the easiest way to track activity within every database and make sure that only permitted users are able to access the most sensitive data. Essential features like encryption and activity monitoring are typically built into these systems, making management of databases and their security more efficient for businesses of any size.

Why database security is important? 

Experiencing a data breach can spell catastrophe for organizations, particularly when databases have been accessed and sensitive company information is put at risk. Some of the possible consequences of a database breach are:

  • Compromised assets. Whether you’re holding trade secrets, proprietary inventions, or even the personally identifiable information (PII) of your customers and employees, giving unauthorized users access to this data can become a significant problem.
  • Damage to brand reputation. Both your customers and vendors, and even your employees , are likely to feel let down when a company experiences security issues. This can lead to long term financial losses if the affected parties move to a competitor.
  • Fines for non-compliance. For some industries, a security breach puts confidential information at risk and therefore violates industry, state, or federal privacy compliance laws. For instance, at-risk payment card information would breach the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), while personal information could violate Europe’s General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR). Fines for violating these laws can be anywhere from hundreds to millions of dollars per violation.
  • Financial and time cost of managing the situation. Depending on the scale of the breach, companies may need to bring in security experts to determine how the database was compromised and how to take measures to prevent a breach from happening again.

Common threats to database security 

In many cases, the most common threats to database security come from misuse of the system. This can lead to unauthorized users gaining access in a number of ways:

  • Insider access. When employees have access to the database, they have the power to either take information themselves or allow others to gain access, via password sharing or exploiting a known vulnerability in the system.
  • Human error. This is one of the most common reasons for database breaches. Insecure logins or other unintentional, but damaging user practices account for a significant number of these incidents.
  • Vulnerability exploitation. Hackers are always looking for ways to gain access to systems. It’s essential for databases to be continually updated to the latest versions, as security patches help prevent cybercriminals from accessing the database infrastructure.
  • Malware. It’s equally as important to safeguard endpoint devices, like servers and computers, that connect to databases. Users can write harmful code to these devices. Intentional or otherwise,, the bad code will then connect to the wider network to gain access to the database.

Database security best practices

To ensure the highest level of protection, database security should include all areas of the system, from the database itself to the hardware it’s connected to.

Physical security 

Databases can be located either on the business’s property in physical servers or digitally in the cloud. Regardless of where the information lives, you should always confirm that the servers are in a secure, climate-controlled space. If you aren’t managing the server yourself, always choose a provider who can guarantee these protections.

Access controls 

Not every user should have access to everything in the database. In fact, you should operate on a minimum number approach – who actually needs to have access to this information? Permission levels should be set on a per user basis and continually reviewed for ongoing security. Limit network access as much as possible. It may be worth opening a second network specifically for guests if you have customers or vendors who use your network frequently.


All data should be protected using the highest level of encryption possible, both while it’s being stored on the server and when it’s being used across the network. This goes a long way toward protecting private and confidential information from anyone who isn’t authorized to access it.

Software and application security 

Any applications or software that are connected to the database should also be periodically updated with the latest security features. Vulnerabilities in these systems allow hackers access to the database, even if the database itself isn’t the original source of compromise. 


No matter the type of database you have, always have backups of its information on a separate network and server. This is a proactive step in the event of lost database access, either accidentally or due to a targeted attack. Ransomware attacks, whereby hackers try to extort businesses for money by withholding their data, are common. A separate copy of all your data on an equally-secured server is non-negotiable.

Best database security solutions

For businesses of all sizes, database security software assures you that the data stored within the database is used properly and is secure from any unauthorized usage. Some solutions are on-premises or through the cloud, and some have hybrid platforms to help businesses choose the best level of security for their data.

To be included in the database security software category, platforms must:

  • Integrate with on-premise, cloud, or hybrid databases 
  • Enforce database access control policies 
  • Encrypt data at rest 
  • Monitor or record database activity

Below are the top five database security software solutions from G2’s Spring 2024 Grid Report. Some reviews may be edited for clarity.

1. Oracle Data Safe 

Oracle Data Safe is a unified control center for all Oracle databases, where you can safely manage your sensitive information. Access user security settings, monitor overall security controls, and address compliance issues from one simple system.

What users like best: 

“Well, say goodbye to unwanted or unauthorized data access and malware that can hinder any organization's performance. Oracle Data Safe givers user control over user activity, monitoring, and how they login – and in this case data protection is ensured.”

- Oracle Data Safe Review, Amelia G.

What users dislike:

“The processing here makes the user wait a longer time than expected.”

- Oracle Data Safe Review, Avinaw S.

2. IBM Security Guardium Insights 

As a data security platform, IBM Security Guardian Insights allows enterprises to address data security and compliance needs quickly and easily. The software automates the compliance process with policy enforcement measures, while centralizing data from multiple cloud databases. This consolidated view is the best way to review critical data and your current security levels.

What users like best: 

“I like IBM Security Guardium insights because of its capability to protect data, threat detection and prevention, compliance management, and risk management. And moreover it’s a user friendly platform.”

- IBM Security Guardian Insights Review, Salman K.

What users dislike:

“It is very tough to deploy in a big environment. I also dislike that it does not provide good documentation for the deployments.”

- IBM Security Guardian Insights Review, Vishal S.

3. Oracle Audit Vault and Database Firewall

The Oracle Audit and Database Firewall provides database protection for both Oracle and non-Oracle databases. The system is built to detect and block threats as they become known, along with improving compliance reporting and consolidating audit data from the databases it manages.

What users like best: 

“The Database Firewall monitors activity block / permits search query language (SQL) activity on the network. Easier way to collect audit data and create the audit report. Good variety of formats to use for reports.”

- Oracle Audit Vault and Database Firewall Review, Mohammad S.

What users dislike:

“Sometimes a little slow and difficult to integrate with other outside applications.”

- Oracle Audit Vault and Database Firewall Review, Anandb K.

4. McAfee Data Center Security Suite for Databases 

The McAfee Data Center Security Suite for Databases offers a robust, industry-leading data security system, with minimal impact on hardware and network resources. The tool works across physical, virtual, and hybrid environments, keeping your data safe wherever it’s stored. As an enterprise system, McAfee allows for scaling as your business grows.

What users like best: 

“The software is easy to install, and has many features that will detect threats and vulnerabilities in the DB system. The reporting feature is quite useful too. Moreover, the tech support from McAfee is also quite commendable.”

- McAfee Data Center Security Suite for Databases Review, Sonal G.

What users dislike:

“The customization was not easy. Also cost wise, it’s expensive.”

- McAfee Data Center Security Suite for Databases Review, Gauya N.

5. McAfee Vulnerability Manager for Databases 

McAfee Vulnerability Manager for Databases helps businesses discover the databases within the network, determines if the latest patches have been applied, and tests for common weaknesses that could expose your confidential data to unauthorized users.

What users like best: 

“You get comprehensive and up-to-date information about the database and reports for each update, version level, and modified privileges. It uses a variety of algorithms to detect threats and vulnerabilities and automatically discovers any database breach. It helps to detect where exactly the risks are and how to minimize and resolve the risks. It also detects weak passwords for database access, etc. It has almost all the capabilities that a vulnerabilities manager should have including user access, privileges, and authentications.”

- McAfee Vulnerability Manager for Databases Review, Abhishek R.

What users dislike:

“Custom scans profiles can be improved more; scanners should be more less consuming”

- McAfee Vulnerability Manager for Databases Review, Sai Adithya T.


Security starts with you!

Keep your most valuable asset – your business data – protected with a comprehensive database security system. Don’t wait until a threat arrives. Take proactive steps to safeguard your data now.

Make your devices as secure as your databases with endpoint protection platforms that offer all-in-one security for computers and servers.

Database Security Software Security system sorted!

Keep your business data protected with database security software that encrypts confidential information across your network.

Database Security Software Security system sorted!

Keep your business data protected with database security software that encrypts confidential information across your network.

What is Database Security? Importance And Best Practices Database security is a system of tools and processes that secures sensitive information within databases, their servers, and the endpoints they connect to.
Holly Landis Holly Landis is a freelance writer for G2. She also specializes in being a digital marketing consultant, focusing in on-page SEO, copy, and content writing. She works with SMEs and creative businesses that want to be more intentional with their digital strategies and grow organically on channels they own. As a Brit now living in the USA, you'll usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea in her cherished Anne Boleyn mug while watching endless reruns of Parks and Rec.

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