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SQL Injection Attacks

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

Website security is one of the biggest fears of website owners and developers. Although various security measures are implemented, SQL injection attacks pose a major threat.


What is SQL?


SQL is the acronym for Structured Query Languages. It is a language from which several database operations are carried out. Using this language, databases, tables, indexes and other relational structures are created, modified and managed. Plus, permission to examine data from multiple tables and combine information from different data sources into a single query. Some examples include:

  • MySQL;

  • Oracle;

  • SQL Server;

  • Between others.

In applications, SQL is constantly applied, so that companies manage large volumes of data efficiently. It is widely used around the world and considered one of the most important skills for database professionals and developers.


How SQL Attacks Happen


SQL injection attacks usually occur when an application fails to properly sanitize user-supplied input before sending an SQL query to the database. Below are the most common categories of these attacks:

  1. Cookie-based SQL injection: Malicious technique where malicious SQL code is inserted into a cookie sent to the Web server. When the server receives the cookie, it can run code without proper validation, which leads to a host of security issues such as data leakage, data modification or deletion, and even complete control of the database by the attacker.

  2. SQL injection based on user input: The most common SQL attack method. The cybercriminal can check vulnerabilities in Web forms and other input fields so that the SQL code that will be in the database is infiltrated.

  3. SQL injection based on HTTP headers: It is possible to inject SQL code into HTTP headers such as User-Agent or Referer. As soon as the server receives the HTTP request, the code is exercised against the database.

  4. File-Based SQL Injection: When the server processes these files, SQL code is executed against the database.

Source: Spanning

When cyber-criminal injects bogus code into the query, it is possible that harmful actions are performed such as connecting with private data, modifying or deleting it and also, taking control of the system. In this way, the victim cannot know that he is being attacked.


Some of the Consequences


The consequences caused by an attack can range from mild to severe, depending on the nature of the attack and the sensitivity of the data involved. It includes:

  1. Modification or deletion of critical data such as financial transfer records, log files or customer data, resulting in the loss of valuable information;

  2. Compromise of the integrity of the system such as the insertion of malicious code for the system to be controlled, information stolen and other malicious activities to be performed;

  3. Reputation damage as customers and users lose trust in the application or the company that maintains it;

  4. Interruption of services such as overloading the database server or stopping access to the application, leading to the loss of possible business;

  5. Unauthorized entry to what is confidential about what is personal and financial of the user.

Source: Xkcd cartoon

How to Prevent it


To prevent SQL attacks, organizations need effective cybersecurity practices such as:

  1. Validate all user input: Must be approved and filtered before being used in SQL queries. Developers need to be careful not to trust user input, even if it appears to be legitimate.

  2. Regularly perform security tests: Security tests performed regularly on systems and applications in order to identify and correct possible vulnerabilities before they are exploited by hackers.

  3. Use prepared-statements: Programming technique that prevents attackers from inserting malicious commands into this query, as they are interpreted as text, not queries.

  4. Limit user privileges: Only the privileges needed for tasks to be performed. This minimizes the risk of a hacker using a compromised user account to log in with private information.

  5. Keep software up to date: Updating systems and software as needed with the latest security patches and patches to prevent cybercriminals from investigating known vulnerabilities.

By using these practices, companies significantly curb the threats of SQL injection attacks while also protecting their data and systems.


To conclude, SQL injection attacks have serious results for website security and user privacy. They should be avoided through a multifaceted approach that includes implementing security at multiple levels, such as coding, network and server. Security training for developers and constantly monitoring their systems to detect and fix vulnerabilities. It is important to follow the best security methods, such as validating data input, preventing syntax errors, and filtering out dangerous characters. Additionally, organizations need to invest in strong, up-to-date security solutions to ensure continuous protection against malicious attacks.


Extras


The video below illustrates in a simple way what SQL Injection is and even provides an example that can happen.

  • https://owasp.org/Top10/en/A03_2021-Injection/

Did you already know about SQL Injection attacks? Leave your like and comment below your opinion on the subject!

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