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What is an SQL Injection and how to fix it?

May 11, 2022 No Comments



What is an SQL injection?

An SQL(Structured Query Language) injection is a form of cyberattack where the hacker enters their code, gets access to the website, violates security measures, and accesses sensitive data. This web security vulnerability allows an attacker to interfere with an application’s database. The data stored is either data that the application can access or belongs to other users.

Furthermore, an attacker can mess with the application’s behavior by deleting or modifying the available information. One cannot undermine the impact of an SQL injection attack. A more severe attack can compromise the servers and the back—end infrastructure of the application. It can also result in the service denying its operations to its users. 

How does an SQL injection attack occur?

If a website doesn’t frequently secure its data, it is effortless for hackers to inject their own SQL code. This code is then transferred to the server. Upon reaching the server, the hacker’s code acts immediately and changes the website’s database. Here are some ways through which SQL can be injected:


SQL injection via user input


SQL injections via user inputs are the easiest way through which SQL injection attacks happen. This is because most sites on the internet collect the user’s data and pass it on to their servers. For example, if you enter your address and phone number while placing an order, comment under videos, and give feedback in the form of reviews, all of this data gets collected.

Hackers insert SQL codes into different websites that have a weak security system. Then, when a user submits details on the website, the underlying SQL code gets activated. Now, hackers gain access to data quickly.


SQL injection via automated hacking tools


Many automated SQL hacking tools like SQLMAP can detect any website having SQL injection vulnerabilities. Although website developers use such tools to safeguard their sites from SQL injections, someone else can use the same for malicious reasons.


SQL injection via cookie modification


Cookies are small files containing letters and numbers downloaded to your computer when visiting a website. These cookies are responsible for giving website information about you. They are helpful when storing credentials and passwords that users can forget. However, the downside is that these cookies can track your behavior across the internet. 

Most cookies are used for advertising and marketing research purposes and are easy to track. Hackers use these cookies and inject their codes into them. So when the cookies think that they are delivering information database, they are providing SQL codes to the database.


SQL injection via server variables


When you access a URL on the internet, a series of communication takes place in the browser to bring that site to you. Browsers have a set of server variables containing information that ensures that the right website is accessed.

Hackers inject their SQL codes into the browser requests, which are further injected into the database. So when you access a URL, you might be redirected to a rather suspicious website. That’s when you know that a SQL injection attack has occurred.


Second—order SQL attacks


Second—order SQL attacks are quite complicated but no less than a time bomb. Many websites are always prepared for such attacks on direct user outputs. So, hackers inject SQL codes that execute only upon subsequent visits by a user.

The SQL code on the database doesn’t do anything on its own. But it is designed so that it gets interpreted as a database entry. Eventually, a SQL injection attack is triggered when a database integrates the SQL codes with its other function.

The impact of SQL injection attacks

SQL injection attacks can affect both individuals and companies alike. Therefore, one must be aware of the consequences of such attacks to be better prepared.


SQLI effects on individuals


SQL injection attacks do not target individuals. However, if you are a frequent user of a website with an SQL code underlying in its database, hackers will, without a doubt, have access to your personal data. The consequences of which can be:

– Identity theft: Hackers can impersonate you by using your name, phone number, credit card number, and other private information about you. Hackers can sell these fraudulent identities on the dark web, and cybercriminals can use them to commit more cybercrimes.

– Loss of money: Once the data about your credit cards, debit cards, and other financial information reaches the hacker, they can use it to retrieve money from your bank accounts.


SQLI effects on businesses


The concentration of hackers is businesses, and therefore, companies need to protect themselves from a wide array of threats. Hackers can take control of all their systems and leak confidential information to the public. Companies then have to rush into doing a lot of PR damage control. 

– Data theft: Hackers have a primary goal, and that is to steal trade secrets, intellectual property, financial records, and other confidential data. 

– Sabotage: Once an SQL injection attack is successfully executed, hackers can wipe out the business database or their website, causing the company to land in a chaotic condition. 

– Security breaches: Once the SQL code is injected into the company’s internal network, then the entire network and contacts of the company are at potential risk. 

– Loss of reputation and credibility: An SQL injection attack’s effects can be severe. The company’s hard work for years and customers’ trust will go down the drain. It will take them months or years to regain the public’s confidence and bring back the company to the same top position it once used to be. In addition, you can only imagine the magnitude of such attacks on the company’s financial cost. 

How can you fix an SQL injection?


SQL attacks, especially the second—order ones, cannot be prevented. However, you can reduce the frequency of these attacks and mitigate their effects if ever faced with one. Here are some ways how to detect and prevent SQL injection attacks:


Don’t share your personal information on websites


Even the most robust security measures on trusted websites can get websites. Therefore, it is better to clear up any personal information on any website, especially the shady ones. If you have to enter sensitive data, ensure that the website is trustworthy. 

Practice good password habits and keep changing them

Most of us take for granted the passwords we keep. Unfortunately, it is the easiest way for any hacker to get through. Therefore, make sure to reduce the SQL attack risk by using strong passwords for all your accounts on the internet. Follow good password creation practices to stay a step ahead of your hackers.


Utilize a password manager


Password managers are good tools to keep you updated on any compromised websites. If the website happens to be one you frequently visit, you can quickly change your password. Most password managers also provide cross—platform functionality so that you can enable passwords on all devices.


Install an antivirus software


It is imperative to have antivirus software installed on your devices even when there is no risk. It is always better to protect your system against cyberattacks and other threats.


Enable regular scanning on your devices


Automated web scanners have been beneficial in pointing out weaknesses in websites for quite some time now. As hackers find more advanced ways of injecting SQL codes, you can simultaneously audit the website’s security at regular intervals.


Stay abreast of tech security news


You can easily access the internet at any given point of the day. Check for updates or news flash from companies that inform of data breaches on their websites. By being aware of such news, you can be better—equipped to handle SQL injection attacks.

Closing out on SQL injection 

As data breaches and cyberattacks are on the rise, it is better to have a strong security system on your devices that can detect and solve any SQL injection attacks. Safeguard your data and take your digital security to the next level by using software that fortifies your network. 

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