Twelve new features for Cyber Security DBAs

In Cloud, Data, DBA, Security and auditing on June 2, 2017 at 08:32

In the early years of Oracle, Larry Ellison was asked if clients ever ask for their money back. “Nobody’s asked for their money back yet – he replied – a few have asked for their data back though!

A relatively new Wells Fargo Insurance Cyber Security study shows that companies are more concerned with private data loss than with hackers:

Thus, one of the main roles of the cyber security DBA is to protect and secure the data.

Here is what the latest Oracle release 12cR2 is offering us:

1. A Fully Encrypted Database

To encrypt an entire database, you must encrypt all the tablespaces within this database, including the Oracle-supplied SYSTEM, SYSAUX, UNDO, and TEMP tablespaces (which is now possible in 12.2). For a temporary tablespace, drop it and then recreate it as encrypted – do not specify an algorithm. Oracle recommends that you encrypt the Oracle-supplied tablespaces by using the default tablespace encryption algorithm, AES128. Here is how you do it:


2. TDE Tablespace Live Conversion

You can now encrypt, decrypt, and rekey existing tablespaces with Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) tablespace live conversion. The feature performs initial cryptographic migration for TDE tablespace encryption on the tablespace data in the background so that the tablespace can continue servicing SQL and DML statements like insert, delete, select, merge, and so on. Ensure that you have enough auxiliary space to complete the encryption and run (for example):

FILE_NAME_CONVERT = ('users.dbf', 'users_enc.dbf'); 

3. Support for ARIA, SEED, and GOST algorithms

By default, Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) Column encryption uses the Advanced Encryption Standard with a 192-bit length cipher key (AES192), and tablespace and database encryption use the 128–bit length cipher key (AES128). 12.2 provides advanced security Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) support for these encryption algorithms:

– SEED (Korea Information Security Agency (KISA) for South Korea
– ARIA (Academia, Research Institute, and Agency) for South Korea
– GOST (GOsudarstvennyy STandart) for Russia


4. TDE Tablespace Offline Conversion

12.2 introduces new SQL commands to encrypt tablespace files in place with no storage overhead. You can do this on multiple instances across multiple cores. Using this feature requires downtime, because you must take the tablespace temporarily offline. With Data Guard configurations, you can either encrypt the physical standby first and switchover, or encrypt the primary database, one tablespace at a time. This feature provides fast offline conversion of existing clear data to TDE encrypted tablespaces. Use the following syntax:


5. Setting Future Tablespaces to be Encrypted


CLOUD_ONLY transparently encrypts the tablespace in the Cloud using the AES128 algorithm if you do not specify the ENCRYPTION clause of the CREATE TABLESPACE SQL statement: it applies only to an Oracle Cloud environment. ALWAYS automatically encrypts the tablespace using the AES128 algorithm if you omit the ENCRYPTION clause of CREATE TABLESPACE, for both the Cloud and premises scenarios.

6. Role-Based Conditional Auditing

Role-based conditional auditing provides the ability to define unified audit policies that conditionally audit users based on a role in addition to the current capability to audit by users. This feature enables more powerful policy-based conditional auditing by using database roles as the condition for auditing. For example, auditing for new users with the DBA role would begin automatically when they are granted the role:

AUDIT POLICY role_dba_audit_pol;

7. Strong Password Verifiers by Default and Minimum Authentication Protocols

The newer verifiers use salted hashes, modern SHA-1 and SHA-2 hashing algorithms, and mixed-case passwords.

The allowed_logon_version_server in the sqlnet.ora file is used to specify the minimum authentication protocol allowed when connecting to Oracle Database instances. 
Oracle notes that the term “version” in the allowed_logon_version_server parameter name refers to the version of the authentication protocol.  It does NOT refer to the Oracle release version.

– SQLNET.ALLOWED_LOGON_VERSION_SERVER=8 generates all three password versions 10g, 11g, and 12c
– SQLNET.ALLOWED_LOGON_VERSION_SERVER=12 generates both 11g and 12c password versions, and removes the 10g password version
– SQLNET.ALLOWED_LOGON_VERSION_SERVER=12a generates only the 12c password version

8. New init.ora parametercalled OUTBOUND_DBLINK_PROTOCOLS

Due to direct SQL*Net Access Over Oracle Cloud, existing applications can now use Oracle Cloud without any code changes. We can easily control the outbound database link options:

– OUTBOUND_DBLINK_PROTOCOLS specifies the allowed network protocols for outbound database link connections: this can be used to restrict database links to use secure protocols
– ALL_GLOBAL_DBLINKS allows or disallow global database links, which look up LDAP by default

9. SYSRAC – Separation of Duty in a RAC

SYSRAC is a new role for Oracle Real Application Clusters (Oracle RAC) management. This administrative privilege is the default mode for connecting to the database by the clusterware agent on behalf of the Oracle RAC utilities such as srvctl. For example, we can now create a named administrative account and grant only the administrative privileges needed such as SYSRAC and SYSDG to manage both Oracle RAC and Oracle Data Guard configurations.

10. Automatic Locking of Inactive User Accounts


Within a user profile, the INACTIVE_ACCOUNT_TIME parameter controls the maximum time that an account can remain unused. The account is automatically locked if a log in does not occur in the specified number of days. Locking inactive user accounts prevents attackers from using them to gain access to the database. The minimum setting is 15 and the maximum is 24855. The default for INACTIVE_ACCOUNT_TIME is UNLIMITED.

11. Kerberos-Based Authentication for Direct NFS

Oracle Database now supports Kerberos implementation with Direct NFS communication. This feature solves the problem of authentication, message integrity, and optional encryption over unsecured networks for data exchange between Oracle Database and NFS servers using Direct NFS protocols.

12. Lockdown Profiles

Lockdown profile is a mechanism used to restrict operations that can be performed by connections to a given PDB for both cloud and non-cloud.

There are three functionalities that you can disable:

Feature: it lets us enable or disable database features for say junior DBAs (or cowboy DBAs)
Option: for now, the two options we can enable/disable are “DATABASE QUEUING” and “PARTITIONING”
Statement: we can either enable or disable the statements “ALTER DATABASE”, “ALTER PLUGGABLE DATABASE”, “ALTER SESSION”, and “ALTER SYSTEM”. In addition, we can specify granular options along with these statements. Example:


But .. the most secure database is the database with no users connected to it.

  1. Nice Blog. Very useful info. Keep it up.

  2. Would be further interesting to know how many (check and how often) their data security compliance … BTW are Cowboy DBAs those that live in the southwest, wear hats and boots and ride horses?

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