How to Defend Against An SQL Injection Attack?

Sometimes attacks on websites are utterly blatant. Sometimes, however, they are very devious. An SQL injection attack definitely comes into the latter category. These attacks are becoming increasingly common so businesses have to stay alert for them. Here is what you need to know.

The Basics of an SQL Injection Attack

SQL stands for Structured Query Language. It’s a language used to manipulate databases. An SQL injection attack is when a cyberattacker attempts to use a data-input field to enter SQL instead of valid data, to gain some level of control over your database.

A successful SQL injection attack can have all kinds of negative consequences for a company. As an absolute minimum, you will need to undertake a thorough clean-up of your data. At worst, you could be looking at the sort of data-protection breach which could bring you to the attention of regulators and/or law enforcers.

Injection Attack

The good news is that there are several steps you can, should, and arguably must take to protect and strengthen your database. Here are some tips.

Limit the Amount of Data you Collect

These days, there is a very good chance that you are under a regulatory or legal obligation to minimize the amount of sensitive data you collect. Even if you’re not, there are all kinds of sound reasons for doing so. Most of these reasons revolve around the fact that the less sensitive data you collect the less burdensome it is to protect it and the less you are exposed in the event of a security breach.

Data that is not legally classed as sensitive is not necessarily subject to the same legal protections. It is, however, still worth asking yourself if there is a value in collecting it. If there is, then you should probably take steps to protect it. If there isn’t then you should probably just stop collecting it.

Limit your Data Input Channels

On similar logic, the fewer data input channels you have, the fewer opportunities cyberattackers have to exploit them. Of course, this has to be balanced with the need to make it convenient for your customers to enter the details you need to collect. Ideally, you should design your website so that there is never a conflict between these two goals. If, however, you ever have to choose between one or the other, then you should always prioritize security.

Restrict How Customers Can Enter Data

Any time you have to allow your customers to enter data, see if there’s a way you can restrict what they can enter. In other words, do your best to force your customers to pick from a limited range of values instead of entering free-text data. Use drop-down menus, radio buttons, checkboxes, and date-selectors whenever you can. When you can’t be sure to apply rigorous validation.

For completeness, the need for validation goes at least double if you’re going to allow people to upload files. In addition to restricting what can be uploaded, this means both the type of the file and its size, you should quarantine all uploads for extra security.

Harden your Database

In terms of protecting against a SQL injection attack, your key defense is to manage your database accesses. First of all, you need to restrict database access to those who really need it. This is one occasion where it is not enough for a person simply to have a strong want for it, not even if it is relevant to their role. People in this situation will just have to channel requests through someone who does need access.

Having just said that any human, website or application who/which needs access to the database needs to have their own set of login credentials. Sharing credentials is never advisable in any situation and in the context of database security it is one of the most horrendous mistakes any business can make.

Last but definitely not least, all accounts should have the bare minimum level of access necessary for them to perform their tasks. Again, this is standard practice in security and is particularly important for the security of your database.

Be Prepared to Invest in Robust Security Tools

The security of your database is linked with the security of your systems as a whole. You should, therefore, be prepared to invest in a robust website vulnerability scanner for your website and a robust anti-malware product with an integrated firewall for your servers, local computers, and mobile devices. If you have remote and/or mobile users, then you also need a VPN.

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

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