Carving database storage to detect and trace security breaches

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Database Management Systems (DBMS) are routinely used to store and process sensitive enterprise data. However, it is not possible to secure data by relying on the access control and security mechanisms (e.g., audit logs) of such systems alone ‒ users may abuse their privileges (no matter whether granted or gained illegally) or circumvent security mechanisms to maliciously alter and access data. Thus, in addition to taking preventive measures, the major goal of database security is to 1) detect breaches and 2) to gather evidence about attacks for devising counter measures. We present an approach that evaluates the integrity of a live database, identifying and reporting evidence for log tampering. Our approach is based on forensic analysis of database storage and detection of inconsistencies between database logs and physical storage state (disk and RAM). We apply our approach to multiple DBMS to demonstrate its effectiveness in discovering malicious operations and providing detailed information about the data that was illegally accessed/modified.




Wagner, J., Rasin, A., Glavic, B., Heart, K., Furst, J., Bressan, L., & Grier, J. (2017). Carving database storage to detect and trace security breaches. In DFRWS 2017 USA - Proceedings of the 17th Annual DFRWS USA (pp. S127–S136). Digital Forensic Research Workshop.

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