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Database security - concepts, approaches, and challenges

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2 Author(s)
E. Bertino ; Dept. of Comput. Sci. & Electr. & Comput. Eng., Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN, USA ; R. Sandhu

As organizations increase their reliance on, possibly distributed, information systems for daily business, they become more vulnerable to security breaches even as they gain productivity and efficiency advantages. Though a number of techniques, such as encryption and electronic signatures, are currently available to protect data when transmitted across sites, a truly comprehensive approach for data protection must also include mechanisms for enforcing access control policies based on data contents, subject qualifications and characteristics, and other relevant contextual information, such as time. It is well understood today that the semantics of data must be taken into account in order to specify effective access control policies. Also, techniques for data integrity and availability specifically tailored to database systems must be adopted. In this respect, over the years, the database security community has developed a number of different techniques and approaches to assure data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. However, despite such advances, the database security area faces several new challenges. Factors such as the evolution of security concerns, the "disintermediation" of access to data, new computing paradigms and applications, such as grid-based computing and on-demand business, have introduced both new security requirements and new contexts in which to apply and possibly extend current approaches. In this paper, we first survey the most relevant concepts underlying the notion of database security and summarize the most well-known techniques. We focus on access control systems, on which a large body of research has been devoted, and describe the key access control models, namely, the discretionary and mandatory access control models, and the role-based access control (RBAC) model. We also discuss security for advanced data management systems, and cover topics such as access control for XML. We then discuss current challenges for database securit- y and some preliminary approaches that address some of these challenges.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing  (Volume:2 ,  Issue: 1 )