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How to Prevent SQL Injection Attacks?

What is SQL Injection?

The SQL injection is a hacking technique that was discovered almost 15 years back and still devastatingly effective. It was used in the USA 2016 presidential elections to compromise the personal details of 200,000 Illinois voters and as well as in high-profile attacks against Companies like Sony Pictures, PBS, Microsoft, Yahoo, Heartland Payment Systems, and even the CIA.

SQL or Structured Query Language is a command-line language for relational databases like SQL Server, Oracle, or MySQL, etc. For modern web development, these databases are used frequently to build backend apps and content management systems, written in different scripting languages. It signifies that both the content and behavior of websites are built on the data in a database server.

If there is one database that drives a website or web application, suffers from a SQL injection login bypass attack, can potentially give hackers power to modify the website content and captures the most sensitive information like account credentials or internal business data. The SQL injection commands list is almost the same as a list of database commands like Drop table, delete table, etc.

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In the case of SQL injection attack, an attacker submits such type of information to the website that is formulated deliberately and results in misinterpreting the website data and takes unintended actions. This is the reason why the Company should take actions to prevent SQL injection attacks. They are posing serious security threats to organizations.

A successful SQL injection attack may result in deleting the most confidential data, unauthorized access to systems or accounts, or ultimately compromising the individual machines or entire network sometimes. Even after a long time of its discovery, the SQL injection attack remains one of the top security concerns.

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Before you start with the actual discussion, check SQL syllabus first and see what should you learn when joining SQL certification program online.

How does a SQL injection attack works?

SQL injection attack works by formulating a false name in SQL that is interpreted as a command and results in an unintended action. Before you learn how to prevent SQL injection attacks, first you have to know which apps are vulnerable to attacks. To check this, launch your own attacks and test on your application.

Construct the code snippets that can be injected into a query to comprise on the database information. You can also use tools that will attack your applications in the same way how hackers work on it. In this way, tools bring the necessary light to vulnerabilities before some malicious finds them.

SQL Injection Examples

Here is one example, how SQL injection can be carried out the best in practice. This attack will access the data of a particular user without knowing its name and password. The SQL code may look like this:

Read: What Is SQL Queries? List Of All SQL Queries With Examples

SELECT*FROM Users WHERE Username = '$username' AND Password = '$password'

With a web interface, an attacker may put false information like this:

1' OR '1' ='1 and 1' OR '1' = '1

Here, the attacker has deliberately used this formulated username and password pair. In other words, he injected two whole OR statements into the authentication process. Let us see how it works. Instead of using any standard SQL statement, he will use the code like this:

SELECT*FROM Users WHERE Username = 'joebloggs' AND Password = 'password123'

It will access the data of this particular user with the given password. In case, this tactic does not work; then the hacker will make clever use of apostrophes to access the user data. As a result, the same query will be parsed as:

SELECT*FROM Users WHERE Username = '1' OR '1' = '1' AND Password = '1' OR '1' = '1'

In this case, the database will show the results of users whose username and password are the same. In this way, details can be accessed even if he is not sure of the user password. This the reason why you are instructed not to put username and password the same.

Sometimes, hackers directly put a Drop table command where all data stored in the table is deleted, and it results in loss of sensitive data that was utmost important for Companies. You can see here how worst situation it can be if SQL injection attacks become successful.

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In the next section, we will guide you how to set protection against complex SQL injection attacks; it is necessary to go through each of them and understand how can you implement them within your application to make it more secure and safe. Before you move ahead, take a quiz first, and evaluate your SQL skills now.

Read: SQL Server Developer & Database Administrator Salary Structure

Steps to prevent SQL injection attacks

The best thing is that a website owner can do a lot of things to prevent SQL Injection attacks. Although there is no 100 percent correct technique that can assure the full-proof network security, still obstacles can be fixed in the path of SQL injection attempts. Here are ten successful tricks that will help you in reducing SQL Injection attacks significantly. Let us see how it works for you:

1). Don’t Trust Anyone

Consider that all data submitted by users are evil, so you have to put validations on input through functions to make sure that any dangerous characters are not passed to the SQL query within the data. Also, user data should be sanitized from scratch by context. For example, the email address column should be filtered in such a way that it should accept email IDs only.

At the same time, the phone number column should be filtered to accept digits only, and so on. In brief, think logically and define filters so gracefully that no one can interrupt your data anyhow. Let us move to the second tip ahead.

2). Avoid Dynamic SQL

Queries should not be constructed based on user inputs. Even data sanitization routines are vulnerable sometimes. So, you have to be extra cautious here. The best idea is using parametrized queries, prepared statements, stored procedures, etc. whenever possible.

Keep in mind that stored procedure can work on limited SQL injection attacks; they are not effective for all attacks. So, we cannot exclusively rely on stored procedures when it comes to database security, but you have to be little more technical and thoughtful here.

3). Update and Patch

Hackers regularly work on tricks that can be used to exploit vulnerabilities in databases using SQL injections. So, it becomes vital to apply patches and updates whenever it is possible. A patch management solution might worth the investment. Also, organizations should try new tactics all the time to make their apps more secure and free from SQL injection attacks.

4). Add Firewalls

It would be a great choice putting firewalls to filter out the malicious data. A good firewall has a set of comprehensive rules that makes it easy to add new ones when required. A web application firewall (WAF) is taken extremely useful here to provide best security protection against threats before a patch is available.

You can use popular firewalls like ModSecurity here that is suitable for all type of apps and provides a complete set of sophisticated rules to filter potentially dangerous web requests. It helps in giving maximum protection against SQL injection attacks, keep in always hackers will also not sit idle, they try different techniques to breach the database security somehow.

5). Reduce the attack surface

Make the database functionality limited and remove extra features if you don’t need it. It prevents hackers from taking advantage of different features. In this way, when the attack surface will reduce, chances of attacks will also be reduced automatically. Hackers will not get a chance to interrupt your application data and you can live free from third-party users that are not authenticated. So, All the best!

6). Add Proper Privileges:

You don’t have to connect your database with an account having admin-level privileges unless there is something very important to do. The best idea is using a limited access account here that is much safer and an intelligent idea for getting protection against SQL Injection attacks.

Read: Power BI - Getting Started with Query Editor in Power BI

For example, the code behind the login page should query the database with a limited account only. It allows you to protect the data in the best way and you don’t have to compromise on the security of the entire database.

7). Use encrypted data

It would be great using code words instead of putting the complete data in the same format. When you put hashing passwords or encrypt the data into another format, it can make your database much safer than usual. However, it is a common practice but works the best till now.

8). Add the required information:

You should add only limited information that is actually needed. Hackers can take much advantage from the error messages. So, make sure that you have stored minimal information that was required by the application.

You should work on verbose errors and learn how to display them on the local machine. It ensures that hackers will get nothing than actions, and it surely gives you protection against unwanted SQL injection attacks.

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9). Monitor SQL statements continuously:

Keep a close eye on SQL statements and monitor then constantly. It will help you to identify rogue SQL statements and vulnerabilities.  Monitoring tools based on AI or machine learning tactics can be extremely useful here.

10). Use better Software apps

Ask programmers to check their codes thoroughly before it is delivered. It helps in fixing security flaws and incorporate the best security standards that are necessary for an application.

Final Words:

With this discussion, you get a detailed idea of SQL injection attacks, how it works, SQL injection examples, and ten steps to prevent SQL Injection Attacks. However, it is just a theoretical idea of the concept; you cannot protect your application until you don’t apply these tricks practically.

To know how to protect an application against SQL injection attacks and best practices to work with SQL injection attacks, join the SQL certification program at JanBask Training now. Mentors will take you on a tour where you will learn everything from scratch to advanced level till you don’t become a dataset pro.

So, All the best and start a successful career in SQL domain with JanBask Training today!

Read: SQL Where Statement Clause with Examples

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