How To Save Yourself From SQL Injection Attack
A SQL injection is a common programming error the consequences of which can be really devastating. Many successful hacking attacks start when a hacker discovers a vulnerability that gives an opportunity to inject SQL code.
When an SQL injection occurs, the structure of an SQL query is compromised and as a result you are left at the mercy of the potential hackers. If there is a vulnerability found, hackers can exploit it to gain access not only to your site and database but in extreme cases also to your corporate network. When hackers can inject their code in your code, they can do what they want.
Why Do SQL Injections Happen So Often?
The shortest answer is that SQL injections are so popular because of poor programming. Hackers know about the potential of a successful SQL injection attack and they search for vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, very often they don’t have to search hard – vulnerabilities pop right in their face. On the other hand, the risk for a hacker from executing an SQL injection is minor, while the potential rewards are lucrative. What else could a criminal ask for?
Therefore, don’t rely on that hackers won’t bother with your site and don’t leave the door widely open. Nobody says that each vulnerability of this type will turn into an attack but it’s not wise to take any chances. The good news is that fortunately, SQL injections are also relatively easy to prevent.
Tips To Prevent SQL Injection Attack
I believe there are two ways to make an SQL injection impossible:
- Don’t use dynamic database queries.
- Don’t accept user input in queries.
However, these two steps can’t be done because if you follow them, then the sites you can create will be very static and in today’s Web this is not a solution. What you can do, is minimize the risks when using dynamic queries and user input. Here are some basic principles that apply to any programming language.
1. Limit The Use Of Dynamic Queries
As I already mentioned, dynamic queries are the door to SQL injections. Of course, it might not be realistic to expect that all dynamic queries can be trashed right away but some of the ways out are stored procedures, parameterized queries, and above all – prepared statements. The exact approaches vary from one programming language to the other but any programming language offers good substitutes of dynamic queries.
2. Escape User Input
The second biggest evil for SQL injections is user input. While you can’t always avoid user input completely, the next best thing is to escape it. Escaping user input doesn’t do as good job as limiting dynamic queries but still it can stop many SQL injection attacks. For instance, if you are using PHP, for GET and POST, use htmlspecialchars() to escape XSS characters and addslashes(), in case you using database. Alternatively, you can escape user input from inside your database but since the exact code varies from one database to the next, you should check with the docs of your database for the exact syntax to use.
3. Store Database Credentials In A Separate File
In order to minimize the damage in case of an SQL injection attack, always store database credentials in a separate file. This way even if a hacker manages to break in, he or she won’t benefit much.
4. Encrypt Sensitive Data
Encrypt sensitive data in your database. This includes passwords, security questions and answers, financial data, health information, and other information that might be useful to malicious actors. This will make sure that even if hackers lay hands on your data, they won’t be able to exploit it immediately, giving you time to discover the breach, plug the hole, and take other reactive measures such as enforcing password resets, which will make sure that the stolen data loses its value before the attacker decrypts it.
All these steps are to prevent an SQL injections and are relatively easy to implement but failing to do so could make a huge difference. If you stick to these rules, you will drastically reduce the risk of your site being compromised via a SQL injection. Still, you can never be 100 per cent sure that you are completely protected against such an attack (or any other type of attack, to be more precise) and this is why you need to keep an eye on your logs so if a breach occurs, you will know it right away and react appropriately to minimize the damage.
If you think there’s something else which helps to prevent a SQL injection so you are most welcome to make a Valuable Comment down below.