SQL is a language used to interact with a database. Millions of websites and online services use SQL to securely fetch and store confidential information related to their business.
Unfortunately, the discovery shows that this promising technology can sometimes cause a glitch in the system if incorrectly structured. Hackers found a way to steal data from such glitches by forcefully injecting malicious SQL statements.
Today, the responsibility of applying proper security measures on database lands on our hands. This article will walk you through the mechanism of SQL Injection, common types and risks, and security methods to prevent from being attacked.
SQL Injection Definition
SQL Injection, an abbreviation of Structured Query Language Injection, is a type of cyber attack that utilizes the execution of malicious SQL statements. Attack targets are websites and online services that use a SQL table for information management. There are many SQL Injection threat incidents occur against online shopping and e-commerce service under small to medium size business management.
History of SQL Injection
The first report of SQL Injection was introduced by a hacker magazine Phrack in 1998. Article author detailly explains the awareness of database vulnerabilities that lets unauthorized SQL commands execute lead to breaching sensitive data. In that era, there was very little security concern and understanding of SQL concept that even Microsoft did not initially see SQL Injection as a problem.
The major incident that brought SQL Injection under public light occurred in 2007 where massive amounts of debit card information were stolen from the United States 7-Eleven database. A criminal group in Russia used SQL Injection attacks against 7-Eleven websites and withdraw cash from cardholders, causing in a total of $2 million damage.
Today SQL Injection is still considered one of the most dangerous threats. According to the latest OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) Top 10 Web Application Security Risks list, SQL Injection is ranked at the very top.
How does SQL Injection Work?
Many online services and websites store their sensitive information on a database that is based on SQL statements. When a database administrator fails to follow proper configuration or security standards, vulnerability gets introduced allowing unauthorized commands to slip through by mixing with legitimate queries. As a result, confidential data that are only available to authorize sources becomes exposed to third party hackers.
Unlike a virus or trojan malware, SQL Injection does not require sending a malicious file to the target environment. Instead, attacks often occur suddenly without any noticeable signs, therefore prevention is
Impact and Risks of SQL Injection
The financial and reputational damage caused by SQL Injection attacks can be enormous. Past incidents have caused website manipulation, identity theft, and entire business data breach.
Let's say an online e-commerce service got attacked and exposed all of their customers' information such as username, password, home address, and credit card number to a criminal group. This information will be used for identity hijacking and illegal financial transactions. In such a case, the organization responsible for insecurity can lose millions of dollars for consolation, reputation recovery, and service discontinuation.
SQL Injection vulnerabilities must be always checked and fixed in any circumstances. There are many tools designed for detecting SQL vulnerabilities, as well as security experts that further take care of the security improvements. Such simple approaches may save you a fortune in the future.
Common Types of SQL Injection
Error Based SQL Injection
A simple approach that depends on the verbosity of the target SQL system. Initiates an attack by sending a query with invalid inputs designed to trigger errors in the database. The response error message will then be utilized to gain information or perform further requests to fetch sensitive information.
Union Based SQL Injection
The Union operator can be used to combine queries and extend the range of information retrieved by the database. Some vulnerability returns unauthorized layers of data when fetched with a precisely structured Union query.
Blind Based SQL Injection
An advanced attack technique that requires determination of system statuses such as response timing, HTTP status code, and content lengths. Combining bits of information leads to revealing valuable information.
How to Protect Yourself from SQL Injection Attacks
There is no doubt that SQL Injection is a serious threat to many kinds of online systems. Protect your business by following the proper security standards mentioned below.
Check SQL Vulnerabilities with Cybersecurity Software
Some Cybersecurity software comes with features that check for SQL vulnerability by executing a variety of SQL commands against your service. This way you can test all known security holes at once and apply proper fixes accordingly.
Apply Latest Update to Database Management Software
Because some vulnerabilities exist on the database software, software providers are responsible for conducting threat research and security patch development. As a database software user, you must always keep your software version up to date to take advantage of such powerful support.
Cybersecurity Expert Consultant
Security service by experts can provide you protection from many aspects. They are proficient in finding security holes in different platforms, apply appropriate protections, and proactively maintain securities according to the environment.
The OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) website articles provide much useful information about preventing SQL Injection attacks.