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What is an SQL Injection Attack and How to Prevent it?

Threat actors often target unsecured databases to execute SQL injection attacks and steal sensitive information from critical databases.

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With the prevalence of data breaches, the consequences of not securing your databases and network systems could be severe. So, you either boost cybersecurity capabilities or sustain cyber intrusions. Threat actors often target unsecured databases to pilfer sensitive information, and one of their most common attack vectors is SQL injection attack.

By Rudra Srinivas, Senior Feature Writer, CISO MAG

What is an SQL Injection Attack?

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a domain-specific programming language used in managing information stored in a database management system. Security admins send queries to databases via SQL commands to access, retrieve, save, or delete data from the server. Websites and web applications have SQL features used to execute commands. Threat actors often target vulnerable or poorly secured databases to compromise and execute their malicious commands.

How an SQL Injection Attack Works

In an SQL injection attack, an attacker injects a website or a web application with malicious codes to retrieve sensitive information hosted in the database without the admin’s knowledge. The attacker then tricks the server into thinking that the command is legitimate and initiates the data retrieval process. They further leverage vulnerabilities in user-input fields such as login pages, comment sections, product, and support request forms. The attacker can also obtain persistent backdoor access to an organization’s database systems for a long-term compromise.

Risks of SQL Injection Attacks

SQL injection attacks are considered one of the top web application attacks to obtain sensitive information from databases. A successful SQL injection attack can cause severe security repercussions, including unauthorized access to information that is otherwise not accessible, data breaches, altering or deleting critical corporate data.

Many high-profile data breaches in recent times have been executed via SQL injection attacks. Freepik recently suffered a major security breach that affected over 8.3 million users. In a security alert, the company stated that hackers unauthorizedly obtained emails and hashed passwords of its Freepik and Flaticon website users. The data leak occurred after an SQL injection vulnerability was exploited to gain access to one of its databases that held users’ data.

How to Prevent SQL Injection Attacks

Usually, SQL injection attackers rely on manipulating user inputs to execute malicious commands. Some of the preventative measures include:

  • Enabling a robust input validation to monitor input
  • Sanitizing potential malicious codes
  • Validating user inputs
  • Enabling a web application firewall (WAF) to detect any suspicious codes
  • Limiting access to critical systems
  • Updating the systems for timely patch management

About the Author:

Rudra Srinivas

Rudra Srinivas is a Senior Feature Writer and part of the editorial team at CISO MAG. He writes news and feature stories on cybersecurity trends.       

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