The chain of software development is meticulously crafted with strict procedures and practices. The development process is monitored with stringent controls that result in frequent, predictable and reliable application deployment. Along the way, however, there is sometimes one vulnerable element that gets ignored: the database.
Research has shown that it is not atypical for a database to be out of sync with applications it serves and, more often than not, there is insufficient documentation of the development process. With disregard for the database so prevalent, what can a business do to protect one of its most important assets? Here's a list of changes you can make to introduce a higher level protocol to your database:
- Make the database your business. When there is a lack of coupling between the database and the people making changes to the database in isolation, the result can lead to failure in attaining your goals. Enforced coupling is the best way to prevent such failures as manual documentation is never fully dependable.
- Have clear version control management. Proper database version control and consistent versioning prevents tampering. Enforcing source control in the database using a check-in/out system is vital. This keeps all revisions sequential and prevents employees from drifting from the revision process.
- Keep audit trails. Version control is an element in a broader picture. Monitoring and tracking should be applied to all stages of development. Protecting development and test databases is just as important as production database fortification.
- Define and enforce roles and responsibilities. To prevent unauthorized or undocumented changes in the database it is essential to define, assign, and enforce distinct roles to all employees. Take advantage of permissions and don't allow users to access anything that is not relevant to their position.
- Streamline compliance reporting. A reporting solution should be directly connected to the database monitoring system, automatically keeping track of every move. This is the fastest way to achieving cost-effective compliance, as it negates the need for manual documentation.
- Systemize and automate. The best way to handle repeating tasks is to simply automate them. Manual processing takes time and is more prone to error. Keep your employees working on your bottom line and allow the database to take care of itself.