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12.2: Background

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    The first database system was created in the 1960s as computers became affordable for private organizations. The two most popular data models during this time were the network model CODASYL (Conference/Committee on Data Systems Languages) and the hierarchical model called IMS (Information Management System). These two systems were used by private organizations, but the SABRE (Semi-Automated Business Research Environment) system saw commercial success through International Business Machines (IBM). IBM used the SABRE system to help American Airlines manage reservation data for customers. These database systems began to change in the 1970s when E.F. Codd published a scientific paper that explored the idea of a relational database model. E.F. Codd’s ideas about a relational database revolutionized the way people view databases. Codd's relational database schema separated the physical information storage, which became the new standard for database systems. 

    Two major relational database systems emerged in 1974 and 1977. One of the databases was called Ingres, which was created at UBC; the second was called System R, developed at IBM. Ingres used a query language known as QUEL, and it led to the creation of systems such as Ingres Crop., MS SQL Server, Sybase, Wang’s PACE, and Britton-Lee (Quick Base). On the other hand, System R used the SEQUEL query language, and it contributed to the development of SQL/DS, DB2, All base, Oracle, and Non-Stop SQL (Quick Base). Relational Database System became the standard and a recognized term in industry. 

    The next evolution in database systems came in 1976 through the Entity-Relationship (E-R) model. Entity-Relationship database model was created by P. Chen. The E-R model allowed developers to focus less on logic table structure and more on research data application. In 1980, Structured Query Language (SQL) became the standard query language among databases. Also during this time, computer sales saw commercial success, which aided the database market. This increase in sales led to the decline in legacy network and hierarchical database models. With the development of the Internet, the database industry saw substantial growth. Databases started to be accessed from client-servers. Online business was becoming popular, and with the demand came the need for internet database connectors increased. Security also played an important part in the development of databases. 

    Before 1980, Government organizations such as the Department of Defense were the first to invest heavily into security of data. This was due to the type of data they were storing, such as military data and census data. Most organizations framed security policies around the few vulnerabilities they detected. During this time, physical threats were understood and preventive measurements were put in place. Logical threats or digit threats were difficult to understand and were very weak during this time. Mainstream research was focused on statistical databases. Access Control was the first security control to come out of this research. “Access Control for databases was to be expressed in terms of logical data model with authorizations in terms of relations and tuples. It also had to be content-aware to allow the system to determine whether access should be granted based on the content of the data item” (Lesov, 2010). This type of access control became known as the Bell-LaPadula model or BLP. Systems were now required to store shared resources which also increased the need for security across those resources. Two new models were created: the Mandatory Access Control (MAC) and the Discretionary Access Controls (DAC). However, both of these did not create great success and were later reinforced with encryptions. Two designs for encryptions were the Access Control Kernels and Encrypted Databases. Kernels isolate and contain security policies inside different modules. Cryptography was used through keys to encrypt and store data to maximize security. Paul Lesov from University of Minnesota writes, “Access control was not sufficient by itself to address the issue of DBA being able to exercise complete control over the data residing in the database. Encryption provides a way to encrypt data in the database and store an encryption key external to the database thereby preventing the DBA from accessing the data” (2010). 

    The digital environment went through a massive transformation that was driven by commercialization of the digital space. Windows was developed and adopted during this time along with the World Wide Web. The idea of using the web as a place to conduct commerce made the security required of the early nineties very different from the late nineties. Another major development during this time was the idea of Object-Oriented Programming. Object-Oriented Programming allowed for more complex and efficient ways to deal with complex data. Early security for databases connected through the web took the form of firewalls which control access to internal servers. Firewalls provided protection against direct attacks on the database but the front-end were left susceptible to SQL Injections. 

    SQL Injections allowed users to insert scripts into the database which would retrieve information. The idea of data mining extended the threat to individual privacy. Government regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) were enacted during this time to protect individual privacy. Paul Lesov stated, “It is important to note that many problems with securing data stored in a database is not due to the lack of research but lacking security in implementation of the database product or an application front ending the database. The shift from full trust to partial trust was driven in part by natural tendency to not provide full trust to anyone single individual based on dual control principle but also due to the inability of the users to keep their own PC computer secure and database frontend not being able to detect malicious attacks such as SQL injections” (2010). Since then, the growth of the databases outgrew the pace of security research. Due to the amount of data and complexity around data security, research was slow. Today research is still being conducted on database security and is ever evolving year to year. 

    12.2: Background is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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