Skip to Main Content
Return to Navigation

Protecting and Managing PeopleSoft Applications with Database Vault

This section provides an overview and discusses:

Understanding Oracle Database Vault

Oracle Database Vault provides an extra layer of security that protects a database against insider security threats. One of Database Vault’s key features is that it protects PeopleSoft application data from being accessed by super-privileged users, such as DBA or system administrators, but it still allows them to maintain the Oracle database.

A super-privileged user, such as a DBA, should not have access to PeopleSoft application data. Application data can include salary, identification numbers, credit card numbers, and other personal information. On the other hand, the DBA must still be able to perform database maintenance, such as back up and recovery. Database Vault allows DBAs to do their jobs, but does not allow the DBA to have access to application data.

PeopleTools has validated the use of Oracle Database Value with PeopleSoft applications. From that validation effort we’ve provided sample PeopleSoft DB Vault security policies. The sample policies are available on Oracle Technology Network (OTN).

These sample policies lock the database to allow all PeopleSoft application processes to access the database, while restricting any super user, like a DBA, from viewing the data using any Oracle delivered query tool. These policies illustrate a minimal usage of Database Vault functionality and may be modified or enhanced based on your specific level of required database security. The following table illustrates how the implementation of the example Database Vault policies affects the PeopleSoft Access ID and end-users, such as VP1 or PS.

User Account

Database Vault

SYSADM (Peoplesoft Access ID)

Before Database Vault, the Oracle DBA would use the Access ID for all database maintenance tasks, and they could view all of the data in the database. For example, a DBA might have used the PeopleSoft Access ID during all system testing to query the database when they needed to verify data in the database. Once Database Vault is enabled, the Access ID will no longer be able to access SQL*Plus, for example.

PSFTDBA (Account for DBAs)

With Database Vault enabled, the Oracle DBA responsible for applying PeopleSoft upgrades will no longer use the PeopleSoft Access ID. The DBA will now use the new PSFTDBA account to login to SQL*Plus and perform database maintenance tasks. The PSFTDBA account does not allow the DBA to run SELECT statements on the database tables, but INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE are allowed.

General PeopleSoft user IDs (VP1, PS, and so on)

The PeopleSoft "end-user" IDs, such as VP1, are not affected by Database Vault. Database Vault is transparent to VP1 and other PeopleSoft end-users.

Restricting Access For the Access ID

In the PeopleSoft system, the access ID is the Oracle owner of all schema objects in a PeopleSoft database. With Database Vault you can restrict Oracle users other than the access ID from having 'SELECT' privilege on any access ID objects.

This restrictive usage is supported by using the sample PeopleSoft Database Vault security policies. When the sample PeopleSoft Database Vault security policies are implemented and Database Vault is enabled on a PeopleSoft database running on Oracle, the policies allow the access ID to do everything it currently needs to do on behalf of PeopleSoft components.

By design, all DML including SELECT DML is allowed by the access ID if the DML is issued through a "known" PeopleTools component, as defined in the sample PeopleSoft Database Vault security policies.

SELECT DML access is restricted for the access ID if not executed through a defined PeopleTools component.

SQLPlus and other ad hoc query tools are not explicitly defined in the sample policies and therefore cannot be used to issue SELECT DML against the database.

Restricting Access For PSFTDBA ID

The sample policies and scripts provide for non-access ID access to the database through the Oracle user, PSFTDBA. This user is intended to be used when you need SQLPLUS access to the system.

In order for DBAs to perform system maintenance, upgrade tasks, and so on, the sample policy scripts create the PSFTDBA account. With this account the following actions are allowed on database tables:




The sample PeopleSoft Database Vault security policies restrict the PSFTDBA ID from performing a SELECT against the access ID's objects. If you use the PSFTDBA account to run a SELECT statement, an error message similar to the following appears:

sp-hp15:$ sqlplus PSFTDBA/PSFTDBA@Q8501123

SQL*Plus: Release - Production on Wed Apr 9 10:45:36 2008

Copyright (c) 1982, 2007, Oracle.  All rights reserved.

Connected to:
Oracle Database 11g Enterprise Edition Release - 64bit Production
With the Partitioning, Oracle Label Security, Oracle Database Vault and 
Real Application Testing options

SQL> select * from Q8501123.PSSTATUS;
select * from Q8501123.PSSTATUS
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-01031: insufficient privileges

The PSFTDBA ID is designed so that your DBA’s use it rather than the access ID to increase security when performing database maintenance. When performing some tasks, keep in mind that PSFTDBA does not have sufficient access to the database to perform all PeopleSoft maintenance tasks, such as all upgrade tasks.

For example, when running SQRs from the workstation, the PSFTDBA user ID cannot run SELECTs on the database to generate reports. This is a defined PeopleSoft Database Vault policy restriction. SQR’s should be run as scheduled Process Scheduler jobs on the server. Also, when applying PeopleSoft upgrades involves some steps that require access to the database using the access ID. For example, in some cases you need to run Data Mover in bootstrap mode using the access ID/password. Data Mover scripts cannot be run as PSFTDBA. In these cases, the key limitation to keep in mind is that the PSFTDBA ID cannot run a select against any access ID owned tables, which includes tables required for Data Mover to log in to the system.

In cases, where you need SELECT access for certain features (SQR, Data Mover, and so on) you can configure a set of specific, alternative ID’s to be used for PeopleSoft upgrade tasks while still remaining in compliance with the Database Vault policies.

Using Multiple Alternate Access IDs

The sample PeopleSoft Database Vault security policies provide protection of highly sensitive information in the PeopleSoft tables from database "super users." In some cases, you may need a more tailored access, such as in the cases of upgrades, patching, auditing, and the separation of duties for the PeopleSoft Access ID.

You can leverage Database Vault so that PeopleSoft tables, procedures and triggers could be protected can still be protected while allowing special access to complete upgrade and maintenance tasks. The privileges in the Database Vault PeopleSoft template can be given to the multiple, alternate, access IDs. By using multiple, alternate, access IDs to perform PeopleSoft maintenance, you can mitigate the issues involved with distributing the password of the base access ID to multiple users.

The multiple, alternate, access IDs (PSFTDBAnn) technique has been tested with Database Vault in the field on PeopleSoft installations and offers a solution where unique, identifiable accounts can be used to perform PeopleSoft patching and upgrades. These accounts can be limited to the modules and machine names from which the PSFTDBAnn ID can run. These accounts also can be heavily audited, to make sure that they do not introduce malicious code, which removes the need to implement heavy auditing on the base access ID account.

With multiple, alternate, access IDs you can:

  • Use multiple, alternate, access IDs that can be used just for PeopleSoft upgrade/maintenance.

  • Create PSFTDBAnn accounts that have many auditing options enabled, not affecting the use of the production access ID (SYSADM).

  • Use Oracle’s Audit Vault to enhance the separation-of-duties when it comes to centrally managing audit information.

  • Configure Database Vault so that the PSFTDBAnn account can be restricted to particular machines and times, and so on.

  • Tale advantage of Database Vault's strictly DBA account(s) (PSFTDBA) that can modify the database and system, but not issue selects on tables in the PeopleSoft Realm. The PSFTDBA account can do many DBA activities such as alter tablespaces, examine performance, start and stop the system, but not see sensitive information. The PSFTDBA account can apply Oracle Database Patches, but not apply PeopleSoft type of patches.

  • Restrict knowledge of the access ID password, as it is no longer required for PeopleSoft maintenance.

  • Address many more of the concerns third party auditors are identifying on systems that contain highly sensitive information in PeopleSoft applications.

In the following examples, the unofficial account "PSFTDBAn" represents multiple access IDs, although it can be almost any name. The PSFTDBAn accounts need to retain the ability to do ‘SELECTS’ on PeopleSoft objects. This technique leverages a protected Login Trigger that alters the CURRENT_SCHEMA, so that the PSFTDBAn accounts can act as the access ID (SYSADM) account, but preserve the user's identity (PSFTDBA1) when running any commands.

To configure multiple, alternate, access IDs:

  1. Create one to 'n' multiple, alternate, access IDs (authorized Oracle USERS):

    create user psftdba1 identified by oracle_1;
    create user psftdba2 identified by oracle_1;
    create user psftdba3 identified by oracle_1;
  2. Grant minimal privilidges to these alternate authorized USERS:

    grant connect,resource to psftdba1;
    grant connect,resource to psftdba2;
    grant connect,resource to psftdba3;
  3. CREATE an Oracle instance level logon trigger to issue an ALTER SESSION SET CURRENT_SCHEMA whenever an alternative authorized user logs into the instance.

    drop trigger psft_login_trg;
    create or replace trigger psft_login_trg
    after logon on database
    -- * use dvf if in a database vault environemnt.
    -- * database vault would also help protect the peoplesoft realm, and 
    logon trigger, and so on
    -- if dvf.f$session_user in ('PSFTDBA1' , 'PSFTDBA2', 'PSFTDBA3') then
    if sys_context('userenv','session_user') in in ('PSFTDBA1' , 'PSFTDBA2',
     'PSFTDBA3') then
    execute immediate 'alter session set current_schema=’SYSADM';
    end if;

Every time one of the alternative authorized USERs logs into the instance, an ALTER SESSION SET CURRENT_SCHEMA=ACCESSID is issued. From here on in any operation performed that is unqualified would be done in the ACCESSID schema.

For example, if the 'PSFTDBA1' were logged into the database directly using SQLPLUS or indirectly using Data Mover, then any 'VALID' operation performed that is unqualified would be done in the ACCESSID schema. All of ‘PSFTDBA1's actions on the database could be audited if the Oracle Auditing facility (Audit Vault) were used. If you need to verify you have database connectivity, you can use the PSFTDBAn account for your test. Data Mover and SQR testing from the workstation will be able to use the PSFTDBAn account.