With more businesses becoming accessible online, there is an increase in website and application attacks. This situation calls for urgent and serious attention as cybercrime has resulted in a whopping $6 trillion worth of damage in 2022. SQL Injections are among the numerous cybercrime tactics contributing to this enormous figure.
SQL Injections have very drastic effects on businesses, including data confidentiality breaches and loss of critical business data that ruin business growth. However, protecting your business against this malicious attack can help existing customers and new visitors build trust in your business. Read on to learn what SQL Injections are, how they attack your business, and the rules to protect your business from them.
What are SQL Injections?
Structured Query Language (SQL) Injections, also called SQL Injection attacks, are code injection techniques used to attack private and sensitive data in an organization. According to OWASP TOP 10, SQL Injections are a top security threat in the online world. They allow criminals to interfere with the queries a website or an application makes to its database. With this interference, they execute malicious SQL commands and bypass the website’s security measures.
In some cases, cybercriminals can report an SQL Injection assault to endanger the server or other frameworks. Additionally, websites that use an SQL database, like Oracle and SQL Server, are easily affected by an SQL Injection vulnerability. This offers hackers unauthorized access to sensitive business data.
How does an SQL Injection attack occur?
As the name implies, SQL Injections aim to inject malicious SQL code into your system. Once a hacker discovers a vulnerable user input within your business’s application or web page, they can easily create input content, sometimes referred to as a malicious payload. This input content forms the root of the attack, after which further malicious SQL actions are instigated within the database. After a successful SQL Injection, hackers are able to steal identities, manipulate transactions and sensitive data, and gain complete control of the database server.
Similarly, hackers can also breach your website security via its back-end database by modifying cookies or forging HTTP headers to inject malicious code into the database. SQL Injection offers attackers a cheaper and easier way to get into businesses’ personal information and sensitive data. Hence, it couldn’t be more surprising that hackers love to use this method to intrude into business space.
Why do you need SQL Injection prevention?
SQL Injections have severely damaging consequences that are avoidable. Once a hacker gets a hold of your company’s website or software application, they can wreck its proper functioning abilities and recover any data in your database, including personal information. This guide on SQL Injection prevention will provide you with helpful information that will keep your business safe from these preventable dangers.
7 rules to protect your business from SQL Injection
After knowing what SQL Injections are, the threats they pose for your business and why you need to prevent them, you must be armed with the solution. How do you protect your business from SQL Injections?
1. Validate user inputs
Knowing how to create the best business website is not enough. As a rule of thumb, you must learn to protect this website from malicious attacks by never trusting user inputs. It’s easy to think that since browsers do not allow users to tamper with the data available on a site, users can’t get through to them. Don’t be deceived. Cybercriminals perform most hack attempts using scripts rather than the browser itself. Several tools also enable users to record HTTP requests and modifications before submitting the data to the server.
Likewise, if you think you have rugged encryption standards and authentication protocols at every strategic place, even they can be decrypted and re-encrypted by hackers. Therefore, you must validate every type of user input, including text area boxes, file uploads, hidden inputs, checkboxes, etc.
Here are some simple ways your web page or application may validate inputs.
- Ensure that numeric and alphanumeric fields do not contain symbol characters
- Confirm that supplied areas like email addresses match a normal expression
- Reject whitespace and newline characters where they are not suitable
2. Avoid shared databases
Hackers love SQL Injection so much that 51% of them use it to attack businesses’ sensitive data. Therefore, one rule to steer clear of these cybercriminals is to avoid using shared database accounts between different software applications and websites. Sharing databases, even by non-administrative account servers, and connecting your website to accounts with root access allows hackers to enter your system. To avoid this occurrence, remove databases that have to spawn the command shells and escalate data privileges.
Here’s how to avoid sharing databases:
- Ensure that every website and application has its database credentials on permission-based access and that the credentials have the minimum rights the website needs
- Restrict users’ access from every part of your website to the core parts that meet their needs
- Enforce the least privileges on your website and other applications
3. Utilize third-party authentication tools
Outsourcing your website’s authentication processes is a worthy consideration in protecting your business from external risks. The idea behind third-party authentication tools is that end-users can easily access your online business without compromising the system’s safety.
Several types of business tools like Google, Twitter, and Facebook, allow users to access your website using their existing accounts on those systems. This saves your business from the ridiculous cost of rolling its own authentication and guarantees your users that their passwords and other information are only stored in a single location.
However, while using third-party authentication tools is encouraged, you must confirm that you only use them with caution, as they are a significant source of security leaks and compromises. Therefore, ensure you work with only trusted and reputable third-party applications from organizations with a clean track record. Also, seek further expert advice if you have doubts about the safety of any third-party app.
4. Avoid sharing too much information in your error message display
It’s pretty common to see ‘log in’ screens that prompt specific error messages. Users may input their ‘log in’ details incorrectly and get an error message like “User ‘Christene4real’ not found.” Although this message looks normal to anyone, they are of great value to any malicious user on the other end. Such a person may continue inputting random information until the error message no longer shows, thus, injecting your system using a ‘forceful’ attack.
To stop this from happening, limit the number of times you display the error message or turn off the error display completely. Selecting either of these reduces your chances of SQL Injection attacks. However, the latter choice is safer as it allows only trusted team members to access the error message and troubleshoot.
5. Conduct regular pen tests
Pen tests are also called penetration tests. They help you assess, evaluate, and upgrade your network’s security to prevent exploitation from hackers, thereby letting you safeguard your database. Pen tests are different from the regular vulnerability assessment of your website. They involve attacking an application software or a website just like a hacker would, thus providing you with concrete insight into how your system will respond during any attack.
In addition, penetration tests help you discover different factors and elements that can aid the easy penetration of hackers into your online store and application, such as outdated software, weak passwords, etc.
6. Provide sophisticated training for your team members
Every member of your team must have the necessary skills to be aware of SQL Injections and other malicious attacks. This is very important, as so much business information is at stake. Therefore, provide security training to your software developers, system admins, and every other team member responsible for protecting your applications and software.
Once you have adequately trained team members, they will have full knowledge of the activities in the cybersecurity space. They’ll also be able to correctly detect malicious codes and other vulnerabilities as soon as they come.
7. Update your website and application software regularly
Developers are constantly detecting security flaws in their applications and software and fixing the issues. When they fix these issues, they release a new version that carries the new implementation. To get access to this updated security, you’ll have to update your website or software. Dedicate specific days in a month to regularly updating your website. However, if you notice that a security update has been released, install it immediately.
Consistent practice of these rules will help protect your business not only from SQL injections but from several other cyber threats.
Protect your business from SQL Injections
SQL Injections are one of the common attacks carried out by hackers. However, they are preventable if you follow the proper rules. By validating user inputs, you can protect your business from SQL Injections. Other ways to prevent this cybercrime include avoiding sharing too much information in your error display and conducting regular penetration tests for your systems.
In addition, providing training for your team members and ensuring that you update your websites and applications frequently are good practices to keep your online business safe. Start enforcing these rules in your operations and see your business protected from SQL Injections.