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Consolidation of Oracle Audit Data sources

Oracle security Tips by Donald Burleson

For complete details on Oracle auditing, see my my book "Oracle Privacy Security Auditing", and you can buy Oracle at this link and get instant access to Oracle auditing scripts.

Consolidation of Oracle Audit Data Streams

Very few Oracle shops have a single database source and Oracle can be a nightmare to try to consolidate auditing archives from heterogeneous database platforms.  Each database product (Oracle, SQL Server) manages archives in differing formats and cross-database issues can be impossible to resolve without centralization.  Audits from different database products are archived with different character sets, different formats and different organizations (Figure 2).
























Figure 2 - The problem of auditing diverse data



Here the problem is consolidating audit information along two dimensions, the multi-layer dimension and the multi-product dimension.  The key to success in this type of heterogeneous environment is to simplify the sources for data collection and to collect audit information at the source, the database layer.  For those using relational databases such as Oracle, SQL Server and Sybase, using the traditional ?grant? access to authorize end-users allows them to access the data via alternative methods such as ODBC interfaces.


For example, Oracle is nearly impossible to track data viewing at the ?intrusion? levels (i.e. ODBC, Crystal Reports, SQL*Plus) with application-layer auditing tools.  Even if we attempt to close backdoors, there is no guarantee that all data access will happen from within the application. 


By auditing the Oracle data disclosure at the source, we eliminate the need to track access from multiple points and we greatly simplify the data auditing model (Figure 3).





















Figure 3 - Cross-product data auditing


Now that we have ensured that all data access auditing is done at the source of the data (the Oracle database), our only remaining issue is dealing with audits from multiple data sources.  This is especially problematic for shops with a mix of database architectures such as relational databases (Oracle), object-oriented databases (Ontos), network databases (CA-IDMS) and hierarchical databases (IMS).


Regardless of the database architecture or specific product, all data audits must capture this information:


?         Who - A full identification of the person viewing or modifying the Oracle data.

?         Where - A log showing the specific application procedure and method used to access the Oracle data.

?         When - A reliable date-time-stamp, globalized to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) for Oracle changes.

?         What - A full listing of all Oracle data entities that were viewed or modified.

?         Why - Context-based information describing how the Oracle data was disclosed



Remember, the Oracle audit trail is a database tool, and for most shops Oracle is the single largest data repository for the entire company.  Just as you purchase a database product that is designed to meet your application needs, many companies choose an auditing solution that is specifically designed for the needs of Oracle auditing (Figure 4).




























 Figure 4 - A unified database for managing audit information


Now that we see the high-level architecture of the privacy auditing collection and consolidation mechanism, let's dive deeper and explore how these giant audit databases are managed. 


If you like Oracle tuning, see the book "Oracle Tuning: The Definitive Reference", with 950 pages of tuning tips and scripts. 

You can buy Oracle direct from the publisher for 30%-off and get instant access to the code depot of Oracle tuning scripts.



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