Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

10/1/2013
06:28 AM
Brian Prince
Brian Prince
Quick Hits
50%
50%

Anatomy Of A SQL Injection Attack

SQL injection has plagued databases for years. Here's a look at how the attacks work -- and what you can do about them

[The following is excerpted from "Anatomy Of A SQL Injection Attack," a new report posted this week on Dark Reading's Database Security Tech Center.]

It started with a vulnerability on a password reminder page and ended with a compromise of Nasdaq's computer network. Such is the life of a SQL injection vulnerability, one of the most prevalent and well-known classes of security flaws affecting organizations today.

A seemingly permanent fixture on the Open Web Application Security Project's list of top 10 Web application vulnerabilities, SQL injection has a long history as a weapon for the world's black hats to blast their way into corporate databases. In July, the U.S. Justice Department announced an indictment against five men accused of stealing more than 160 million credit card numbers and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses in attacks on more than a dozen organizations, including the one on Nasdaq.

The stakes cannot get much higher. According to Trustwave's "2013 Global Security Report," SQL injections accounted for 26 percent of the infiltration methods used by hackers in the data breaches it analyzed in 2012.

Fighting these attacks means more than just understanding where flaws lie in the code. It also means understanding the cyber kill chain -- the life cycle of the attacks targeting the corporate network. Armed with that knowledge, organizations can begin totake a smarter approach to defending their databases and making sure the Web applications that access them don't serve as unguarded gateways for attackers.

Put simply, SQL injection is a technique in which the attacker uses a vulnerability in the code to send malicious SQL statements to a database. This happens when user input that's not properly filtered and validated is utilized in SQL queries to databases accessible by vulnerable applications. There are multiple types of SQL injection attacks, with these two types being the most common categories:

In error-based SQL injection, the attacker forces the database to perform an operation that will result in an error, and then examines the error message for information that can be used to build a working exploit with the correct syntax. Organizations often seek to mitigate this by limiting the amount of information contained in error messages.

Blind SQL injection attacks are used when vulnerable applications are configured to show generic error messages. In this approach, the attacker asks the database a true or false question and examines the application's response. If the response is different, the attacker can determine whether or not the database has been successfully accessed.

Attackers have a number of different exploit methodologies at their disposal. For example, attackers sometimes use a method known as time-based blind SQL injection, which involves getting the database to pause for a specific period of time, and then comparing the response times between normal requests and injected requests to determine if a SQL statement was successfully executed.

To learn more about SQL injection attacks -- and how to prevent them -- download the free report.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add a Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Brian Prince is a freelance writer for a number of IT security-focused publications. Prior to becoming a freelance reporter, he worked at eWEEK for five years covering not only security, but also a variety of other subjects in the tech industry. Before that, he worked as a ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Peter Fretty
50%
50%
Peter Fretty,
User Rank: Moderator
10/15/2013 | 2:49:06 PM
re: Anatomy Of A SQL Injection Attack
Great post Brian. SQL injections are one of the key components of development and security that IT leaders need to understand. There is a desperate need today for highly security software development practices that would help eliminate the problem at the core. Of course that would not change all the existing applications businesses rely on everyday. This is where Web App Firewalls (i.e. Sophos UTM can make a difference in protecting the enterprise.

Peter Fretty
MROBINSON000
50%
50%
MROBINSON000,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2013 | 10:56:06 AM
re: Anatomy Of A SQL Injection Attack
Great article Brian, and I am also looking forward to check out the full report. We also discussed about SQL injection attacks and bugs in a blog series on our company blog. I do hope that you and other readers interested in this topic will find the articles useful. Here is part 1 of the article: http://blog.securityinnovation...
The Cold Truth about Cyber Insurance
Chris Kennedy, CISO & VP Customer Success, AttackIQ,  11/7/2019
Why Cyber-Risk Is a C-Suite Issue
Marc Wilczek, Digital Strategist & CIO Advisor,  11/12/2019
6 Small-Business Password Managers
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  11/8/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-16863
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
STMicroelectronics ST33TPHF2ESPI TPM devices before 2019-09-12 allow attackers to extract the ECDSA private key via a side-channel timing attack because ECDSA scalar multiplication is mishandled, aka TPM-FAIL.
CVE-2019-18949
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
SnowHaze before 2.6.6 is sometimes too late to honor a per-site JavaScript blocking setting, which leads to unintended JavaScript execution via a chain of webpage redirections targeted to the user's browser configuration.
CVE-2011-1930
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
In klibc 1.5.20 and 1.5.21, the DHCP options written by ipconfig to /tmp/net-$DEVICE.conf are not properly escaped. This may allow a remote attacker to send a specially crafted DHCP reply which could execute arbitrary code with the privileges of any process which sources DHCP options.
CVE-2011-1145
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
The SQLDriverConnect() function in unixODBC before 2.2.14p2 have a possible buffer overflow condition when specifying a large value for SAVEFILE parameter in the connection string.
CVE-2011-1488
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
A memory leak in rsyslog before 5.7.6 was found in the way deamon processed log messages are logged when $RepeatedMsgReduction was enabled. A local attacker could use this flaw to cause a denial of the rsyslogd daemon service by crashing the service via a sequence of repeated log messages sent withi...