What is SQL Injection Attack?

An SQL injection attack is an exploit in which cyberattackers take advantage of user-input fields to enter malicious code into your database. They are part of a growing number of cyberattacks that focus on obtaining illicit access to data. Here is what you need to know.

Any user-input field can be used for an SQL injection attack

If a user can enter data manually then they can enter SQL instead of legitimate data. There are three main ways to prevent this. These are as follows. Reduce the number of manual user-input fields. Validate data thoroughly. Harden your database against all forms of cyberattacks including SQL injection attacks.

In addition to all of the above, it's strongly recommended to subscribe to a robust website vulnerability scanner.

4 Ways to Prevent SQL Injection Attacks

1. Reducing the number of manual user-input fields

In simple terms, never let your users enter data manually if there is any sort of practical alternative. Realistically, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to eliminate manual data input completely, but you may be surprised how much you can reduce it without inconveniencing your users.

The key to making this work is to think about the user experience as well as IT security. Ideally, you should undertake user acceptance testing. If you can't get real users together, try asking your employees to try your interface and give feedback. If possible, have at least some of the tests from a mobile device.

As a rule of thumb, drop-down menus are good options for when the user is just going to scan a list quickly and pick one option which will be obvious to them, for example, their title.

SQL Injection Attack

Radio buttons and checkboxes serve much the same purpose. They allow people to compare options and choose the right one or ones for them. Radio buttons are best for when the user should only choose one option and checkboxes are best for when they can choose multiple options.

Date selectors can be painful to use but they don't have to be. Generally, you want to split the selection into at least three parts, year, month, and day. You might even consider splitting it into four parts, century, year, month, and day.

Then make sure that each part works independently of the others so that if a user makes a mistake in one field they do not have to deal with the inconvenience of having everything reset.

2. Validating data thoroughly

Basically, this means that you need to undertake robust checks on any data entered to make sure that it is what it is supposed to be. Keep in mind that cyberattackers can be very ingenious in their efforts to circumvent validation checks.

For completeness, although file uploads are not really hugely used for SQL injection attacks, they are routinely used for all kinds of other attacks and hence need to be monitored with particular care. It’s also highly advisable to limit the size of the files users can upload to avoid leaving a wide-open door for DDoS attacks.

3. Hardening your database

The topic of hardening your database deserves a whole article of its own, but here is a quick summary of the key points. Any person, website, or application that has access to your database should have their own login. These logins should be kept to a minimum, especially admin logins. Very few humans are going to need them and it’s highly unlikely that a website or application ever will. All logins should have the minimum level of access needed to fulfill their purpose.

All sensitive data should be kept encrypted at all times and in all locations and environments. The encryption keys should be stored in a separate location from the data. There needs to be a robust data backup strategy that is designed with ransomware-protection in mind.

The database server needs all the usual array of security precautions. Remember that good digital security starts with good physical security. This means that you think about where your database server is stored and its physical defenses as well as its digital ones.

4. Subscribe to a robust website vulnerability scanner

SQL injection attacks are just one of a range of cyberthreats and your business needs protection against all of them. It is therefore strongly recommended to sign up for a website vulnerability scanning service.

These are available from a range of vendors and each vendor will have their own take on the concept. That said, the core of any website vulnerability scanning service will be an anti-malware scanner and a web applications firewall. Together they do a lot to keep your website safe from all kinds of cyberattacks.

Please click here now to have your website scanned, for free, by cWatch from Comodo.

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