Welcome to NBlog, the NoticeBored blog

I may meander but I'm exploring, not lost

Jul 23, 2008

SQL as an audit tool

Mike Blakley wrote a fine piece in EDPACS on using SQL queries to interrogate a database system for audit purposes.

Abstract:
"Organizations, both large and small, are increasingly reliant on database systems for their operational support needs. This is due to the adoption of accounting systems ranging from large enterprise resource planning systems, down to departmental or even desktop-based database systems. The traditional audit approach used to account for data stored in databases has relied on information technology or other support staff to extract data for audit, which was then tested by others, often technical specialists. An alternative approach, which also provides greater audit independence, is to increase the knowledge level and skills of audit staff so they can obtain this data directly and perform their audit tests independently. This article may have relevance to other IT system audits."

In the same issue, Fred Cohen discusses the specification of control requirements for [real-time process] control systems and SCADA, an area that relatively few information security managers and IT auditors have experienced. I have had some exposure to this at power generation and engineering companies but admit I know next to nothing about it. Having seen conference presentations on "exploring" SCADA networks and Building Management Systems, I'm sure these are targets for curious hackers who relish the challenge of understanding obscure comms protocols and exploiting inadequate security controls. Fred's comments about the ever-deepening Internet connectedness of such networks and the historical lack of attention to security ring very true. I often wonder what fun would lay in store for hackers with access to the networks and devices, perhaps exploiting the numerous wireless command and control systems out there. Let's hope they are responsible enough to use their powers for good not evil.

All in all, another excellent issue. [The fact that I'm one of many on the EDPACS editorial board is purely coincidental, of course!]