Security cameras: PostgreSQL API security

If your business deals in large volumes of data, chances are that you are at least somewhat familiar with PostgreSQL, or you may use it actively in your data management strategy. PostgreSQL is a powerful relational database system, and it is completely open source. As of 2019, PostgreSQL was the second-most-common database solution for professionals. Thirty-four percent of more than 75,000 respondents reported that it was their first choice. By association, PostgreSQL API security is key issue that should be considered when using the PostgreSQL platform.

The 2021 Open Source Security and Risk Analysis, or OSSRA, report highlighted the many risks of open-source software in general, as well as prolific security problems in many particular products. How can you reduce the risks of using PostgreSQL? This article covers the five top ways to better secure your open-source database solution.

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1. Implement Role-Based Access Control

Role-based access control (RBAC) is the process of preventing unauthorized users from accessing your database or particularly sensitive data within the storehouse through the use of uniquely defined “roles.” RBAC restricts access depending on roles as defined by you. According to the PostgreSQL documentation, “A role can be thought of as either a database user, or a group of database users.” You can then use various forms of authentication to control when and where to grant these roles access. Role-based access control ensures that users only have access to what they need at a given time, and with strict authentication it is a powerful tool for PostgreSQL security.

2. Use SSL or TLS Encryption

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption is a common protocol for protecting data through transport. Now many also use TLS (Transport Layer Secure). Both of these protocols control the transfer of information between servers or between server and client. They ensure no one can modify or access data during transport except as intended. PostgreSQL’s security features include native support for SSL. You can also configure the system for TLS. Ideally, you should encrypt all traffic to ensure the greatest level of PostgreSQL security.

3. Configure for Limited Network Connection Access

PostgreSQL “listens” for client connections and authorizes or rejects them based on a set of parameters. You can configure the database to only connect with safe and required networks, preventing any unauthorized network access. While the source code has this set as the default, some other builds may not. Users can ensure better security by adjusting the listen_addresses parameter. Setting this to localhost enables you to block unwanted network connections before they access the database.

You can also change the port that PostgreSQL uses to listen for these connections as desired. These options make it easier for users to configure PostgreSQL for their company’s particular needs. Configuring the database to your specifications may take a lot of time and effort, but through DreamFactory you can build a secure REST (REpresentational State Transfer) API to Postgres in minutes with little or no coding.

4. Apply Row-Level Security

RLS (Row-Level Security) is a protocol or policy that protects data on the level of individual rows in tables, per its name. Postgres lets you create these policies to restrict users to only accessing rows that are specific to their needs at the time. In this way, no one user has unlimited access to data that is unnecessary or not appropriate for them to view.

RLS just increases the customization of PostgreSQL security to a deeper level. It allows you to individualize every point of access to data, ensuring compliance and helping prevent security leaks and breaches. The system utilizes user accounts to funnel the data so that only the intended user sees it. DreamFactory has optimized user management features including SSO (single sign-on) to help keep users’ accounts secure and much more.

5. Enhance Logging and Monitoring

There are two aspects of the built-in logging and monitoring system that you can enhance for better PostgreSQL security.

  • Encrypt passwords in logs. When a user inputs their password, the system usually logs it. The issue is that any team viewing the logs for IT support, maintenance, or problem-solving can access these passwords. This may unnecessarily expose sensitive passwords and information. You can configure Postgres logging so that the system encrypts passwords even within the logs.
  • Log and monitor all traffic and functionality. Everything that you log is something you can refer to in order to isolate a breach or test security. Careful monitoring can catch potential vulnerabilities or discover breaches before sensitive data is compromised.
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Prioritizing PostgreSQL Security

Without adequate data security, you risk exposing sensitive client data as well as opening up your company to potential lawsuits and other problematic situations. Prioritizing the security of your database solution means following Postgres security best practices and determining the most secure API options. PostgreSQL security deserves your full attention, but you can simplify it through these measures. With these five tips, you can enhance your current level of database security and ensure that only authorized users access data.

DreamFactory provides a modern, no-code platform that ensures you comprehensively manage your PostgreSQL API security. With DreamFactory, you can instantly generate a fully documented and secure REST API saving you considerable time and developer effort in creating and deploying your PostgreSQL API.

Related reading:

How to Secure REST APIs: API Keys Vs OAuth