Executive View

Oracle Database Security Assessment

This report provides an executive summary of Oracle’s Database Security capabilities based on recently published KuppingerCole research. It covers both the company’s traditional database security solutions and the innovative Autonomous Database cloud platform.

Alexei Balaganski

ab@kuppingercole.com

1 Summary

Databases are still the most widespread technology for storing and managing business-critical digital information. Growing amounts of the most valuable and sensitive corporate data must be protected against compromises of their integrity and confidentiality without affecting their availability for business processes. The number of security risks databases are open to is substantial, covering the information itself stored and processed in databases, underlying computing and network infrastructures, as well as applications accessing the data.

Databases have long been a prime target for cybercriminals of all sorts: from nation-state actors to business competitors or even malicious insiders. And as compliance regulations, such as the European Union’s GDPR, are getting stricter, a successful data breach can destroy both CIOs and the companies they work for. Unfortunately, recent breach statistics indicate that the number of attacks on critical verticals like healthcare, financial or government organizations continues to grow, with millions of records stolen daily.

Over 90% of breaches involved highly regulated personal and financial data, and less than 5% of breach victims reported that their current data protection measures were instrumental in preventing the breach. Attack scale is getting larger as well: the Equifax breach alone has affected half of the US population. Without a doubt, security has become the most important database capability, more than performance, manageability, availability, or anything else. Database security is becoming the new cybersecurity frontier.

In March 2017, KuppingerCole published the Leadership Compass on Database Security – a multivendor report covering multiple functional areas of database security. Although our analysis covered a mixture of both large veteran vendors and smaller, but innovative players, the results clearly indicate that only the largest companies that offer a wide range of products addressing different database security risks can be identified as leaders – see below.

Overall Leaders in the Database Security segment [Note: There is only a horizontal axis; vendors to the right are positioned better]
Figure 2: Overall Leaders in the Database Security segment [Note: There is only a horizontal axis; vendors to the right are positioned better]

KuppingerCole has recognized Oracle among the distant overall leaders in database security, thanks to the combination of the company’s global market presence, broad range of database security products and services in all eight functional areas covered in the analysis, as well as its impressive financial strength.

Perhaps the only reason that has prevented Oracle from claiming the overall leader title in our last year’s report was its somewhat less than stellar score in the Innovation Leadership rating – at the time, we have recognized other vendor’s contributions higher. Since then, however, the company has more than made up for this shortcoming by announcing the Oracle Autonomous Database – a truly disruptive innovation comparable to the recent developments in other fields of information technology like machine learning or serverless computing.

Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud (ADWC) was released in March 2018, and KuppingerCole reviewed the solution soon afterwards, concluding that Oracle Autonomous Database is the world’s first fully automated cloud database platform powered by machine learning. By eliminating human factor from database management, ADWC provides unprecedented security, reliability and performance for enterprise data management in the cloud.

The key findings of the report are summarized below:

  • Human error is a major factor in security breaches. By introducing intelligent automation for all aspects of database management, Oracle ADWC not only reduces labor and costs for customers, but completely eliminates the human factor as a threat vector.
  • Since ADWC completely eliminates administrative user controls, this dramatically increases its resiliency against malicious insiders, advanced hacking attacks as well as misconfigurations and other honest mistakes.
  • Initial provisioning is the only step requiring human interaction: after defining the intended workload type, geographic location and resource policies, everything else is configured automatically according to the best practices in availability, security and performance.
  • Since data encryption, access control and auditing are always enabled by default, sensitive data remains secure and compliant throughout its full lifecycle.
  • Autonomous database instances support regular patching and upgrades with no downtime, as well as automated backup and disaster recovery functions. For demanding customers, a mission-critical SLA is offered with an impressive 99.995% availability level without any exceptions.
  • Thanks to flexibility of the Oracle Exadata database machines running in the Oracle Cloud, ADWC instances support automated performance optimization and elastic resource usage, which ultimately leads to substantial cost reduction compared to traditional database servers.

On the whole, with the Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud, Oracle has created a unique offering for the most demanding database customers that combines enterprise-grade performance and scalability with the highest level of security and compliance for sensitive corporate data by eliminating human factor and replacing it with industry best practices powered by the company’s decade-long expertise and machine learning.

The breadth of Oracle’s database security portfolio is impressive: with a number of protective and detective products and a number of managed services covering all aspects of database assessment, protection, monitoring and compliance, Oracle Database Security can address the most complex customer requirements, both on premises and in the cloud.

It’s worth noting that some of these products are specifically designed for Oracle Databases, which makes Oracle’s data protection solutions less suitable for companies using other types of databases. Other products, such as auditing, monitoring and test data management solutions, support multiple database types.

Key components of the Database Security suite are:

  • Oracle Key Vault for centralized management of encryption keys
  • Oracle Audit Vault and Database Firewall for controlling SQL Injection, detecting anomalies, and supporting forensic analysis
  • Oracle Database Vault for enforcing trusted path access to data and controlling privileged users
  • Oracle Advanced Security for encryption and redaction of sensitive data
  • Oracle Data Masking and Subsetting for targeted archiving and static masking of sensitive data for nonproduction purposes
  • Oracle Label Security to enable multi-tenant usage of data tables at the data row level
  • Oracle Database Security Assessment Tool for configuration analysis and sensitive data discovery
Product capabilities
Ratings Security Strong positive
Functionality Strong positive
Integration Strong positive
Interoperability Strong positive
Usability Strong positive
Strengths
  • Comprehensive product portfolio for all areas of database security
  • Deep integration with other Oracle’s Data Provisioning, Testing and Cloud technologies
  • Multiple compliance management and reporting tools and services
  • Hybrid Cloud Management for seamless operations across different environments
  • Challenges
  • A number of products are available only for Oracle Databases
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