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2 weeks ago

How to Prevent SQL Injection Attacks

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Your typical application or website regularly connects to the appropriate databases, which are typically SQL-type. But if designed and established without forethought, this connection leaves a vulnerability to SQL injection attacks. The hacker basically injects SQL code into the database through something like a website authentication form, altering the intended query to their benefit.


Hackers have a thousand ways to conduct SQL injection attacks, so planning ahead for every possible vector is almost impossible. But there are some bigger-picture steps you can take to stop the bulk of them. 


To safeguard your applications against SQL injection attacks, simply follow this checklist of best practices! For a more in-depth exploration of fortifying your database security with state-of-the-art solutions, head over to Inery.tech, where innovation seamlessly merges with database management excellence.


Regular Patching, Maintenance, and Awareness of Loopholes


As you surely know by now, routine maintenance of applications and databases plays a vital role in covering security vulnerabilities. Thus, all components of a web application (plugins, libraries, APIs, and much more) need to be updated and monitored on the regular, ensuring all known and new vulnerabilities are accounted for.


This does sound difficult to keep track of, especially given the practically infinite ways for an SQL injection to slip through the cracks. But seeing that SQL injection is such a common issue, new holes tend to be discovered quickly, so you won’t have a hard time getting informed about the latest threats. That’s why staying abreast of the latest cybersecurity news and vendor announcements is so important.


Conduct Thorough Security Testing


Security testing gives a great picture of your application’s particular vulnerabilities. It allows you to take care of these holes before they become an actual issue.


To carry out this security testing, developers need to find all the points where the application connects with the database to access data. There could be many such points, but a few common examples include website search engines and login forms.


The developer also has to write down a list of input fields that may be included in making an SQL query and test them separately. They would then attempt to interfere with the relevant queries and get them to show an error.


Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be done manually, as there are automated tools that find vulnerabilities and suggest appropriate solutions. You can even find free, open-source solutions, such as SQLmap, Mole, and BSQL hacker.


Parameterized Queries


Parameterized queries go a long way toward stopping SQL attacks. In fact, they can serve as a critical line of defense against SQL injections.


Prepared statements with the proper query parameters help the database tell user input from code. As such, it knows not to interpret injected queries as commands but as data. This essentially removes any risk of a hacker sneaking in unwanted queries.


The only limit of parameterized queries is their ineffectiveness in systems that use dynamic SQL. Dynamic SQL relies on user input for its queries, so it obviously isn’t compatible with parameterized queries.


Don’t Show Database Error Messages


The more informative error messages are to the user, the more they open up the underlying database to SQL injections. For this reason, you should make sure that your error messages only show the bare minimum info needed by the user. The more sensitive error info should be saved for the back end.


For instance, we recommend the “RemoteOnly” customErrors mode to limit how much info makes it to the user’s end. They should only get an “unhandled error” report, from which they can learn very little.


Define and Implement Least Privilege Principles


The principle of least privilege will protect your database from access by unwanted parties. A limited access account will provide significantly more protection, as it narrows hackers’ access when the less-privileged admin credentials become compromised.


Also consider establishing strict rules for commands available to the user. For example, an application that only takes in SELECT statements doesn’t have to allow DELETE statements, too.


Sanitize Input Data


By sanitizing user input, you can greatly limit the hacker’s attack vectors. This is most commonly done through input manipulation, wherein we filter, parse, or remove unwanted characters or input.


Some of the best practices in this regard include removing characters like   ’   ;   \--   or null or empty strings. These are the most common characters with which attackers get more information from a database than they’re supposed to.


There are tons of ways you can go about sanitizing input data for your database. But be aware that some are less optimal than others. Moreover, certain queries might be unaffected by removed characters, so an attacker could get around this defensive layer.


Input Validation


On its own, input validation isn’t necessarily a protective measure against SQL injection attacks. However, it does come in handy when blocking the more common fact-finding tactics of SQL injection hackers.


When designing an input validation policy, developers essentially create a whitelist of permitted SQL statements. Those rendered invalid by the process are left out of any query. Meanwhile, inputs are configured for user data by context (e.g., fields for email addresses may only store values that contain @).


Final Words



As you explore the intricacies of safeguarding your data from SQL injection attacks, remember that innovation and modern solutions are at your disposal. To embark on a journey toward more efficient and secure database management, consider the transformative capabilities of Inery.

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