Due to the countless data-driven applications controllable over the internet, SQL injection vulnerabilities are on the rise, as more and more cyber criminals try to take advantage of them.
The UKFast Threat Monitoring service found around 30,000 SQL injection attacks on the servers of their clients. Such cyber-attacks affect millions of businesses and individuals per day, and data centre design has to be careful, in order to prevent these kinds of attacks.
How can you protect your server from such attacks, knowing that any data-driven application that relies on an SQL database is a potential target?
What are SQL Injection Attacks?
SQL injection attacks insert malicious SQL statements into input fields of databases, triggering the application to execute the malicious code. //Such attacks use improper coding of web applications that makes them vulnerable to cyber-threats. Success occurs whenever the entry fields that accept user input allow such SQL statements to pass through and to query the database with no further ado.
The most common purpose of SQL injection attacks is to steal personally identifiable information. This type of attack can have extremely severe consequences. Here are a few of them:
– Stealing of PII or sensitive information, potentially triggering severe GDPR penalties and fines
– Extracting of user names and passwords sets that can be used for subsequent attacks
– Corruption or even deletion of the database, with the consequence of breaking your website
– Using the corrupted database to initiate attacks on other systems on your network
Under the circumstances of such severe threats and consequences, what can you do to protect your network from SQL injection attacks?
1. Utilise Parameterised Database Queries and Statements
The best method to prevent SQL attacks is to use parameterised statements, as they are dynamic and they much faster to execute. Always write only parameterised database queries and use them with great care.
This is your guarantee that all statements into your database are safe. As the parameters and the string pass separately, the SQL database driver is able to interpret them the right way, therefore protecting your code from malicious attacks.
2. Use a WAF
A WAF consists from a large number of rulesets covering a wide array of application-layer attacks such as SQL injection. This layer of protection will keep your database safe even in the event of flawed code that may permit SQL injection attacks.
3. Use Specialised Vulnerability Scans
Hackers are constantly trying to find flawed code to attack databases and applications over the internet. Since they use automation tools, they are extremely prolific in their work, thus enjoying higher success rates and more efficient actions.
By periodically scanning for SQL injection vulnerabilities, you’ll be able to detect all flaws and to fix them before they endanger the safety of your network.
4. Object Relational Mapping (ORM) Frameworks
There are many programming languages you can use to write your ORM framework. This type of structure has the aim to protect your SQL database by virtually wrapping around it.
While an ORM framework won’t make your database immune to SQL injection attacks, it will allow you to write SQL queries in a language you master. This will simplify your work and will prevent lots of coding errors that may open the gate to malicious attacks. Such frameworks come with lots of prebuilt features that contribute to enhancing the security of your database. SQLAlchemy, which is a Python-dedicated toolkit, is a very good example of such features.
5. Use the Least Privilege Principle
By utilising the least privilege principle, you can stop any attack that tries to access other parts of your network. Always use the least privilege principle when allowing accounts to connect to your database.
6. Password Hashing
Password hashing can effectively prevent SQL injection attacks by making all your stored passwords impossible to read.
Displaying or storing unencrypted passwords is one of the major security flaws that exist. All applications should use only hashed passwords, preferably salted, as well. This is how you can decrease the risk of becoming an easy target.