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Securing Your MongoDB Database: Best Practices

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Securing your MongoDB database is paramount in today's digital landscape, where cyber threats are ever-present. Unconfigured MongoDB databases are particularly vulnerable, as demonstrated by a recent incident where a hacker exploited over 23,000 unsecured databases, highlighting the importance of robust security measures.

MongoDB Security Best Practices:

  • Encrypt Data at Rest: MongoDB Enterprise 3.2 introduces WiredTiger, a storage engine that offers native encryption at rest. This ensures that data remains unreadable without the appropriate decryption key. Regularly rotating decryption keys add an extra layer of security, and it's crucial to note that MongoDB supports AES-256 GCM encryption on Linux.

  • Enable Access Controls and Use RBAC: Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) is a default feature in MongoDB since version 2. Implementing RBAC allows precise control over user permissions. Follow the principle of least privilege, assigning access rights only when absolutely necessary. Default roles include read, readWrite, dbAdmin, dbOwner, and userAdmin.

  • Audit User Actions: Auditing user actions is critical for identifying malicious activity and troubleshooting. MongoDB's auditDestination feature allows configuration of auditing, with options to output audit events to the console, JSON file, or BSON file. Monitoring system events, such as failed logins, requires MongoDB Enterprise.

  • User Authentication: MongoDB supports various authentication mechanisms, including SCRAM and x.509 Certificate Authentication. MongoDB Enterprise users have access to additional methods like LDAP Proxy Authentication and Kerberos authentication. Proper authentication ensures restricted access to the database.

  • Encrypt Network Traffic: In addition to encrypting data at rest, encrypting network traffic is crucial to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. Configure Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt network traffic. Set net.ssl.mode to requireSSL for MongoDB to permit only TLS/SSL connections.

  • Backup Your Data: Regularly back up your data to ensure access in case of cyberattacks or system failures. MongoDB offers various backup methods, including mongodump, filesystem snapshots, and MongoDB Management Service (MMS), each suitable for different scenarios.

  • Complete Regular Updates: Regularly download and apply security updates to protect against known vulnerabilities. Keeping the system updated is essential for patching vulnerabilities and reducing the risk of exploitation.

  • Monitor Your Network: Implementing performance monitoring is crucial for identifying resource issues and detecting potential cyber attacks. Database monitoring tools, such as SolarWinds Database Performance Monitor, offer continuous optimization suggestions and alert you to misconfigurations or vulnerabilities.

Effective monitoring of MongoDB is crucial for identifying security events and potential threats. Continuous monitoring allows for the early detection of anomalies, such as a sudden increase in login failures, which may signify a cyber attack. In this section, we'll explore some of the leading MongoDB monitoring tools available in the market.

SolarWinds Database Performance Monitor:

SolarWinds Database Performance Monitor stands out as a live monitoring system and database tuning service that caters to various Database Management Systems (DBMSs), including MongoDB. This tool excels in tracking access to tables and other database structures, offering insights into performance enhancement strategies like denormalization, partitioning, archiving, and view creation.

  • Automatic Recommendations: SolarWinds provides actionable guidance on MongoDB best practices, allowing users to continuously optimize both performance and security. For instance, the platform may suggest improving the speed of a slow-running query by adding an additional index.

  • Misconfiguration Monitoring: The software actively monitors for misconfigurations and vulnerabilities within your MongoDB deployment. Identifying such issues empowers administrators to take prompt corrective action.

  • Threshold-Based Alerts: SolarWinds Database Performance Monitor includes a robust alerts system where users can set trigger conditions for individual metrics. This ensures timely notifications in response to predefined thresholds.

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