25 Mar, 2024

SQL Injection and What Your Business Can Do to Prevent It

Ensure your website is protected with our guide on what SQL injection attacks are and the steps you can take to prevent them.
Does your website have protection against a potential SQL injection attack? SQL injections have grown increasingly common in recent years. They are now one of the most popular web attack mechanisms that hackers utilize to steal sensitive data from organizations. Unfortunately, these attacks can have far-reaching consequences, as demonstrated by a recent attack that led to the compromise of the personal data of over two million people.

In this attack, a threat group named "ResumeLooters" stole the personal data of over two million job seekers after they compromised 65 legitimate job listings and retail sites using SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. This attack focused primarily on users in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. It stole job seekers' names, email addresses, phone numbers, and other sensitive data.

This highlights the responsibility organizations have to protect their websites from these attacks. By being proactive and focusing on preventing potential attacks from occurring in the first place, you can ensure that you are doing your due diligence to protect your users' data and your business's reputation.
To ensure the protection of your website, we explore what SQL injection attacks are and the steps to take to protect your website from them.

What Is an SQL Injection Attack?

Before you take steps to protect your website against an SQL injection, you must first understand what it is, how it works, and the threat that it could pose to your organization. A Structured Query Language (SQL) injection is a code injection attack that allows hackers to insert malicious SQL statements into input fields for execution by the underlying SQL database.

Malicious user inputs can result in SQL statements that do things that the application's creator never intended. This makes SQL injection attacks particularly dangerous. They can allow malicious actors to insert specialized commands into the SQL query fields. When executed, this enables them to impersonate legitimate users, view or retrieve protected data, and gain root access to servers.

While these attacks can affect any data-driven application that uses an SQL database, they most often attack vulnerable websites. Injection attacks usually happen because of improper coding of user input channels that leave websites vulnerable to hackers. The hackers can then use these weaknesses to insert malicious SQL statements into user input fields for execution by the underlying SQL database, allowing these malicious statements to query the database directly.

Unless you take the proper steps to protect your website against an SQL injection, a hacker could then use your website's vulnerabilities to access sensitive data. This could put your organization's reputation on the line.

How Can I Protect My Website From SQL Injection?

SQL injection attacks are currently one of the biggest threats to website security. However, you can significantly reduce your risk with the right prevention strategies. With user input channels being the main target for these attacks, the most effective preventative measures involve controlling and vetting user input and performing penetration testing on these channels.

It is also helpful to implement the following methods that can prevent or reduce the success of potential injection attacks.

Input Validation

Input validation is essential to ensure the proper inspection and formatting of data according to predetermined criteria. The validation process verifies whether or not the type of input submitted by a user is allowed by ensuring that it is the accepted type, length, and format. This process also helps counteract any commands that a hacker could try to insert into the input string.

One way to achieve this is by establishing an allowlist that defines valid user inputs against which the database can check (and reject) incoming queries that appear abnormal, which can minimize the likelihood of an attack.

Parameterized Queries

SQL injection attacks largely depend on a hacker's ability to manipulate inputs and database functions. One way that organizations can minimize the risk of unauthorized or malicious queries is to restrict these inputs and limit the types of database procedures performed using parameterized queries.

Prepared statements with variable binding (parameterized queries) can define acceptable SQL code and set parameters for incoming queries. This can significantly reduce the likelihood of an SQL injection attack as malicious SQL statements are classified as invalid data inputs rather than executable commands.

Stored Procedures

Stored procedures require a developer to group SQL statements into logical units to create an execution plan. This code can be stored for later and used many times when you need to execute a query. Stored procedures can help protect your organization, as these reusable SQL statements are retrieved from a database without the user having direct access to the database. Using them adds an extra layer of security, preventing hackers from executing code directly onto the database itself.

Least-Privilege Access

Least-privilege access is the principle of only giving user as much access to protected data as their role requires. Utilizing this principle when provisioning accounts connected to the SQL database is essential in preventing SQL injection attacks. This may mean limiting the number of users who have administrator-level privileges, or only granting users temporary admin-level access.

Restricting access on a role-based level can help minimize the impact of a potential breach. Attackers who breach a database using stolen credentials will be limited in what data they can view, modify, or steal.

Web Application Firewall

One of the ways to identify and prevent SQL injection attacks is to have a web application firewall (WAF). A web application firewall operating in front of the web servers can help identify patterns that constitute a threat. This, in turn, helps create a barrier between the web application and the internet. The WAF then protects the server from exposure by monitoring web traffic and filtering out potentially malicious traffic.

WAF can also protect from several security threats including SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), session hijacking, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, cookie poisoning, and parameter tampering.

How Quttera’s ThreatSign! and WAF Can Protect Your Website From SQL Injection Attacks

Partnering with a trusted provider of threat detection and protection services can protect your website from an SQL injection attack. For high-quality threat protection services you can rely on, look no further than Quttera's ThreatSign platform. With ThreatSign's DNS and endpoint WAF solutions, your website will have protection against SQL injection and other cyber security threats. Our WAF also checks all incoming HTTP requests and blocks SQL injections and other malicious packets. This helps keep your database and your company's sensitive data safe.

Feel free to contact us to learn more about how Quttera can help protect your business. You can also sign up for ThreatSign to activate protection from SQL and other hacking attacks.