Preventing SQL Injection

SQL (Structured Query Language) is just a query language and contrary to general opinion, it’s not a database but it’s a language that’s used to communicate with a database. Although the term SQL injection sounds rather protective, it’s surprisingly a web hacking technique.

Hackers use it to place malicious code in SQL statements as a means to destroy and compromise databases. Using Web requests, malicious SQL commands are sent to the data servers- as a result even without the proper credentials, the attackers can bypass the login screen and access the databases. As databases are powerhouses of data, sensitive information like usernames, passwords, and card details can be accessed, changed or deleted.

That’s not all- these ‘deadly cyber stalkers of the web’ have the power to deface websites, modify content and even shut down servers. Legitimate users are locked out and hackers are in. it’s easy to see why a SQL injection is so dangerous and pervasive.

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In July 2012, Yahoo suffered an SQL injection attack and more than 400,000 login credentials were compromised. Sony’s website was attacked exposing large amounts of personal and private information. Online retailers and government agencies have also been victims of an SQL injection attack. The financial implications, the remediation costs and the damage to businesses and organizations are just tremendous.

That’s why preventing SQL injection from happening is of paramount importance. Let’s take a look at what we can do to protect databases from being compromised.

Firewalls

  • Many organizations lack the energy to secure their applications either because they don’t know how to do it, don’t have enough resources for testing or continue to stick with code that’s outdated- they are sitting ducks for hackers. The best form of web application protection for them is a managed web application firewall, which blocks or thwarts any suspicious activities.

Privileges

Restricting or minimizing privileges to specific accounts and applications will ensure that the scope of the damage is minimal. Using the root account to connect your web application to the database server is the worst thing that you can do, for a compromised admin account gives the attacker access to the entire system. Give specific privileges to specific accounts and never let non-admins have access to all databases on the server. In case of a SQL injection attack, the scope of the damage is severely restricted.

Encrypt sensitive data

Encrypting important information will put a spoke in the hacker’s attempts to enter the database. It gives you a little breathing time to plug the breach in the best possible manner and resort to other reactive measures such as password resets to protect data.

Store only what you need

As far as possible refrain from making your database privy to sensitive information, but if you do have to do it, delete the info once you have no more use for it.

Continuous monitoring

SQL statements that are associated with database-connected applications need to be monitored regularly. You need to be on the lookout for any sign that indicates either a vulnerability or a ‘sneaky SQL statement’ that’s looking to find a loophole. Automated web application scanners should be combined with manual testing to ensure that SQL injections don’t exploit logical flaws.

Updates

Commercial software should be updated as and when updates or security patches are available. This prevents a SQL injection from sneaking in. Also, equip your database with the right weapons so that it can distinguish between SQL injected code and data inputs.

SQL injection isn’t going anywhere- protect yourself and your users but don’t be surprised if you suffer a data breach in spite of all that. Take SQL injection attack protection¬†seriouslyand always be prepared.

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