Preventing SQL Injection Attacks | ENP
A structured query language (SQL) injection attack is a malicious web attack technique that allows web page and web application security measures to be circumvented by executing malicious SQL statements. By using this attack technique, hackers can recover, add, modify and delete the contents of an SQL database.
SQL is the command and control language for relational database management systems (RDBMS) like Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle Database, and IBM Db2. An SQL injection attack can affect any website or web application that uses an SQL database system. Due to the ubiquity of SQL databases, SQL injections (SQLi) are prevalent on the Internet.
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How much damage can an SQL injection attack cause?
Hackers can exploit security holes to cause extensive damage to the business. Here’s how cybercriminals can use SQL injection attacks:
- Attackers can use SQL injection attacks to find other users’ login credentials in a database and impersonate them. To put it in perspective, if a hacker gets administrative authority, he can wreak havoc. This login information can also be used to attack other websites.
- Hackers can access any data on a database server. This includes details of credit and debit cards, social security numbers, etc.
- In the case of financial websites and apps, hackers can use an SQL injection attack to transfer money to their account, reverse transactions, and change balances.
- Hackers can delete records from a database. Although DBMS software offers recovery and backup, backups may not cover recent data. Hackers can corrupt the database and render the website unusable.
- A complex SQL injection attack can allow attackers to gain access to an operating system using the database server.
- Attackers can inject other malicious code that will only be executed when users visit the website.
SQL injection attacks are the biggest threat to application security because almost two-thirds of all attacks on software applications between 2017 and 2019 were SQLi. Despite the technology advances in security since SQL injections were first discovered in 1998, they are still a major concern.
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What to do to fight against SQL injections?
Here’s what you can do to protect your organization from SQL injection attacks:
- Use a SQLi detection tool: A SQLi detection tool automatically identifies potential security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by criminals. Some of the more popular SQL injection detection tools include SQLMap, jSQL, BBQSQL, Blind-SQL-Bitshifting, Blisqy, Damn Small SQLi Scanner (DSSS), and explo.
- Validation of entries / redesign of requests: You must identify essential SQL statements and configure a whitelist, not a blacklist (smart attackers may find a way to bypass a blacklist), for all valid SQL statements. You must also configure the input fields by context. For example, phone number entry fields can be filtered to allow only required special characters, such as “+” and “-“. The same goes for email addresses, credit and debit cards, social security numbers, etc.
- Data disinfection: You need to clean the data by limiting special characters. SQLi attackers can take advantage of security holes to access a database using unique character sequences. It is essential to clean the data to not allow concatenation of strings. If you are using MySQL database management software, for example, you can configure user input to mysql_real_escape_string (). This can go a long way in ensuring that special characters such as a single quote (‘) are not passed to an SQL query as a statement.
- Using prepared statements with parameterized queries is critical: Unfortunately, validating entries and disinfecting data alone are not enough to prevent SQLi. Companies should also use statements prepared with parameterized queries (variable binding). This will help distinguish between input data and a potential command. You must also use stored procedures in the database.
- Actively apply patches and updates: Security vulnerabilities can be identified by the public and these vulnerabilities can be exploited using SQLi. It is essential that companies systematically manage patches and updates. This means keeping DBMS software, frameworks, web server software, libraries, and plugins up to date. We recommend that you use a patch management solution such as SolarWinds Patch Manager, Flexera Corporate Software Inspector, IBM BigFix, Ivanti Patch, or Red Hat Satellite.
- Use a Web Application Firewall (WAF): A software-based or appliance-based WAF comes in handy when it comes to filtering potentially dangerous web requests. The SQL injection defense of a WAF can override most database infiltration attempts.
SQL injection attacks pose a major threat to the security of corporate data. Hackers can access, modify, add and delete the contents of an SQL database. To mitigate the threat from SQLi, it is important to design your database security system to treat all user data as potentially malicious.
Apply patches and updates early to prevent hackers from taking advantage of SQL vulnerabilities. Keep all of the tips mentioned in this guide in mind and explore advanced protection options to maximize business security.
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