What is SQL injection and How Can You Protect Your Business From It?

With more businesses using the web, there is more space for online hackers to attack new sites that aren’t adequately protected. Moreover, it seems to be a preferred method of attack by hackers as 51% of them use it to attack an organization’s sensitive data! 

The use of web applications will continue to expand in the upcoming years, but let’s not forget that so will the threats. 

SQL injections are something to be concerned about, and if an organization doesn’t take the proper security measures, it might be the next target for hackers; don’t think it can’t be you! Well, Let’s not wait any further because, in this article, we will show you how exactly you can protect your business from these threats. 

What is an SQL injection?  

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An SQL injection is a code injection technique used to attack sensitive data in organizations. While it can affect data-driven applications that use a SQL database, it’s a common web hacking technique. 

How do hackers attack this sensitive data? They insert malicious SQL statements and allow an attacker to interfere with the queries and control the database through these statements. 

How can you protect your business from SQL injections? 

Refuse dynamic SQL and say yes to prepared statements 

So, how to protect against SQL injection? You should undertake the first step to never include inputted data in SQL queries. To achieve this, you need to disable data interpretation so that it doesn’t get processed once it enters the database. Moreover, it doesn’t matter even if it’s written in an SQL query format because the system will place the data just the way it is. 

Moreover, a skilled developer will always know how to remove malicious code elements, including single quotes. So it’s pretty easy for online attackers to gain full access to your sensitive data. 

Utilize parameterized database queries 

Skilled developers know this best, preventing SQL injection in web applications by utilizing parameterized database queries, typed parameters, and using parameterized stored procedures within the database. 

Moreover, This is done using various programming languages such as Java, PHP, .NET, and more. 

Other than that, there are some additional steps that developers can undertake to stop these attacks: 

  • Avoid using shared database accounts across different applications and sites.
  • Try using the principle of least privilege whenever you use various accounts to connect them to the SQL database. For instance, if a random site is trying to acquire web content from a specific database with SELECT statements, avoid giving them privileges that include UPDATE, DELETE, or INSERT. Here, the highest level of access should be required and avoid granting unlimited access to just anyone. Moreover, that person who requires high-level access should only need it to perform their duties. 
  • Ensure you are keeping all database server software and web application software components up to date with security patches 
  • Ensure the database errors aren’t sent to client web browsers. You can do this by configuring handling on the webserver and proper error reporting. 

Sanitize and don’t trust user input 

Ensure that the special syntax recognized by SQL is restricted from accepting commands that possess unknown data inputs. It may be possible that some data within the JSON files can be harmful to SQL queries. 

Furthermore, ensure that you treat all user inputs as untrusted. Any user input used in SQL query also introduces SQL injection risks. Try treating input from internal users the same as you treat public input. 

Limit specific error displays 

We have seen this issue quite commonly when a user may input their username incorrectly and get an error message that the information is incorrect. In other words, what is scary about this is that attackers can continuously input the wrong information until they ‘forcefully’ log in. To prevent this from happening, it’s best you ultimately turn off the error display or limit it. 

Use whitelists and imply the latest technologies 

Don’t filter users with a blacklist because attackers will always try to find a way to overcome it. Instead, try verifying user input with whitelists. 

You also need to know that older web development technologies don’t have any SQLi protection. So ensure that you are using the latest technologies in that language and environment. 

Additionally, don’t forget to provide regular scanning on your web applications by using a web vulnerability scanner. You must always be aware of what is happening. 

Provide the necessary training for your team

Everyone involved in keeping your web applications safe should have the required skills to be aware of SQL injections. Moreover, you should provide security training to your system admins, developers, and all responsible for protecting your web applications. 

Use a SQL injection prevention tool 

As we mentioned before, SQL injections are one of the most common attacks done by hackers. So to provide that extra layer of security against them, you can use a SQL injection prevention tool. A good one will launch vulnerability scanning bots to identify which sites have any SQL injection vulnerabilities.  

For example, DataDome can detect SQLi vulnerability scanning bots immediately and prevent them from doing any damage before they reach your web application. In addition, it has real-time scanning capabilities to stop the attack before it ever happens. 

Moreover, you don’t need to make any changes to your architecture. You have to set it up, and then it’ll run automatically. DataDome uses a bot detection engine that combines machine learning and AI to identify whether a human is real or a bot in only two milliseconds! 

Why do SQL injection attacks happen? 

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SQL injection attacks aren’t challenging; you can consider it a cheap way for attackers to get into sensitive data. So it isn’t a surprise that hackers love to use this method of stealing personal data. 

When a SQL injection is successful, it allows attackers to do the following: 

  • Manipulate transactions
  • Steal identities 
  • Delete data 
  • Get control of sensitive data 
  • Gain complete control of the database server

Moreover, ASP and PHP applications are among the most popular targets, and what’s worse is that most businesses will fall short of providing the proper solutions to prevent SQL injection attacks. 

SQL anatomy 

Here is the anatomy of an SQL: 

  • Vulnerability scanning: Attackers will use a bot to scan for any SQL injection vulnerabilities within your web apps
  • Automation: Attacks can occur automatically with ready-made tools
  • Malicious attack: Once attackers are done identifying vulnerability, they will start to input malicious commands and other variations to see what they can do to the database. 

Can you stop a SQL injection attack with a web application firewall? 

Of course, you can! For example, SQL injection attacks are prevented with a web application firewall (WAF) as well. WAF can monitor traffic within the web servers and identify the patterns that can threaten it. Moreover, the WAF can operate with customizable web security rules. Based on the policies you set, WAF can identify traffic behavior and what it should search for and learn how to block malicious traffic. 

New policies created with WAF can be set up in a short period of time and allow a rapid rule implementation and fast responses. WAF can provide you protection against a significant number of security attacks, including: 

  • Session hijacking 
  • Cookie poisoning 
  • SQL injection 
  • Cross-site scripting (XSS)

Additionally, WAF also offers the following: 

  • Real-time application security monitoring and HTTP traffic logging that allows you to see what is going on currently
  • Automatic protection against upcoming threats 

Even though WAF isn’t used primarily for SQL injection attacks, overall, it’s considered the leading web security defense strategy. 

Wrapping it up 

Well, that’s all in this article. These were our tips on how you can prevent a SQL injection attack and what SQL injection attacks are in the first place. These types of attacks are crucial to consider because, as we mentioned before, they are widespread and a preferred method for hackers to sneak their way into sensitive data. 

We know that attacks on the internet are continuously rising because more users are using the internet each year. But unfortunately, most organizations and companies aren’t prepared for these attacks, and it can be pretty scary not to have enough security protection against online attacks.  

After all, not only will it damage your brand reputation but consider the fact of how much data you can potentially lose. Nobody wants their private data stolen, and the only way to prevent this is to be prepared to stop these attacks successfully. It’s challenging to build your reputation in business, but easy to lose it! 

Work done by a Team Of Security Experts from Cyber Security News