How Database Performance and Database Security Are Linked (and Which Should You Prioritize?)
Rob Turner

Modern organizations are rightly concerned about cyber security, given the prevalence of threats and the never-ending war against them.

When it comes to protecting databases, there’s a close connection between security and performance. So what makes the link relevant, and how should you adjust your administrative priorities accordingly?

Identifying telltale signs of suspicious activity

When a computer is infected with malware or a virus,it’s likely that users will notice quickly because of how erratic performance levels become.

The same rule applies to databases; it’s impossible for outsiders to meddle with your servers without somehow leaving evidence of this maliciousness in the performance metrics.

Thus the simple fact is that if you are on the ball with regards to monitoring database performance, you are also doing your bit to bolster security, whether you know it or not. Of course, it’s better to be aware of how to monitor a database efficiently and consistently, so let’s tackle that now.

How to analyze how your database is performing

If you have the compulsion to do so, you can keep tabs on database performance by manually looking into the metrics for things like wait times and access requests.

However, there is an entire ecosystem of tools built around analyzing database performance, such as SolarWinds’ platform, which will do all of the heavy lifting for you.

Monitoring can be automated, alerts can be issued when certain performance parameters are exceeded or veer away from acceptable limits, and your job as an administrator will become that much easier as a result.

It’s important to get these base-level readings for performance so that you’ve got a yardstick against which you can measure the ups and downs of database usage going forward.

Likewise, the longer you’ve been using monitoring tools, the more precisely you can dial in your ideal operating metrics, and the swifter you will be able to identify suspicious activity.

Getting Your Priorities Straight

In terms of prioritizing database performance and security, it’s something of a false dichotomy to argue that one needs to take precedent over the other.

As you may have worked out, if you are proactive in keeping performance well-optimized, then you will naturally be better equipped to detect and deal with attempted breaches and other nefarious goings-on.

That is not to say that you can just sit back and expect a stable database infrastructure to remain secure indefinitely; you still have to leverage the aforementioned monitoring tools to pinpoint anomalies so that action can be taken.

Other elements feed into this ecosystem of performance and security

Another point to make is that if you want to ensure that your database performs well and is also secure, you have to take a holistic approach to maintaining it.

That means rolling out software updates and security patches as soon as possible, rather than settling for older versions of the code which might well be vulnerable to exploitation.
It also means analyzing hardware usage to predict when upgrades will be necessary, whether your database is hosted on-site or in the cloud.

Making these changes in good time will ensure that you are not misled by the nature of performance problems and given a tougher troubleshooting problem to solve.

Wrapping Up

Overseeing an entire database deployment can be a challenge, but with good strategies and top tools to hand, it doesn’t need to pose unnecessary risks to the integrity of your valuable data.

Appreciating the link between performance and security is very much the tip of the iceberg, so delving deeper is a requirement of all good DBAs.