SQL Injection Attacks

Introduction

The number one threat to web applications and websites in 2017 and 2013 was SQL injection attacks. That’s according to The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Foundation, a non-profit security community that supports the development of secure web applications. The more DBAs and web application developers know about SQL injections, the better they can safeguard their data.

About SQL injections

An SQL injection (also referred to as SQLi) sends a destructive SQL statement to alter a web application or database. The attack might also be sent to obtain, change, or add data records. Web pages with vulnerabilities to SQL injection attacks are at risk because it’s possible for an intruder to circumvent security measures for authentication in order to access the targeted application. The server then becomes compromised and controlled by the SQL injection.

The types of databases at risk

SQL databases are at risk of SQL injections. Popular DBMSs such as MSSQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle, just to name a few. The list also includes web applications or websites that use those types of databases and other SQL databases. Any data stored in a database is in danger of an SQL injection. Confidential information such as intellectual property, trade secrets, and customer data are what criminals seek.

Reasons why website attackers might prefer to launch an SQL attack

The query programming language SQL is used to maintain databases. Some run commands that use the OS to control the stored data. Furthermore, SQL commands are responsible for many facets of data management within an SQL database. They execute tasks that deal with retrieving, adding, removing, and changing data.

Realistic scenarios involving SQL injection attacks

SQL injection attacks are serious threats with dire consequences from which businesses find difficult to recover. Here are some realistic ways that they can cause damage:

SQL injection attacks can:

  • Gain access to information in the database about authorized database users with special credentials such as DBAs. Tables and records can then be deleted by the imposter. Backups may not completely restore data, especially those latest changes that were made just prior to the last backup session.

  • Allow an attacker total access to the database server’s data.

  • Compromise a finance-based application and on accounts, transfer funds, change balances, or cancel transactions.

  • Permit the invader to go beyond the database, bypass the firewall, and into the network that’s housed internally, thereby getting into the OS.

A brief outline of how SQL injections are carried out

1) A SQL attacker finds a web application or web page with unprotected user inputs.

2) The intruder inputs a false SQL query which is a destructive payload that allows the trespasser to control part or all of the database.

The best ways to ward off an SQL injection

Errors in the database provide an opening for attackers. Take care to turn off your visibility settings for your website while it’s still in the production stage.

Validate inputs and pre-compile your SQL prepared statements. This way, you’ll just need to add the parameters/variables. Entering the complete code directly invites unauthorized users and makes malicious SQL injection attacks more likely to occur.

While analyzing your coding, delete individual quotes since they are suspicious script details. Always clean login input forms and every other web-based form that contains data input.

When you scan for SQL injection attacks, depending on which type of program you use, a quick fix may not be possible. However, some firewall web applications clean inputs for a limited time until you can take care of an SQL injection permanently.

Conclusion

SQL injection attacks are escalating. The increased use of SQL databases will likely spur thieves to find ways to disburse SQL injections to unguarded databases. Thwarting the attacks takes an ongoing effort and daily diligence. Compared to what can be lost, the time invested in prevention is well worth it.

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