Cyber-attacks involving Structured Query Language (SQL) injection are steadily increasing. According to a report by Akamai, they account for over 65 percent of website-related cyber attacks. If your website uses SQL, you’ll need to protect it from SQL injection. Neglecting to defend against these common cyber attacks could result in severe damage to your website and its reputation.
What Is an SQL Injection?
SQL injection is a type of online cyberattack in which a hacker submits a malicious command to a website’s database. Most websites have at least one database. SQL is a query language that allows users to interact with these databases. Login fields and forms, for instance, are often connected to a SQL database. Users can log in to a protected section of a website by entering their name and password. SQL will process their login credentials while subsequently retrieving the content for the users.
With SQL injection, a hacker will submit a malicious command to your website’s database. It’s performed using the same fields and forms as other SQL commands. SQL injection, however, is defined by its use of a malicious command. Instead of entering their username and password, hackers will enter a malicious command in the field or form.
Depending on the type of SQL injection, it may allow hackers to do the following on your website:
- Delete content
- Change or modify content
- Access protected sections without logging in
- Deploy malware to visitors
- Steal visitors’ data
Scan for Vulnerabilities
Scanning your website for vulnerabilities will allow you to identify weaknesses that could pave the way for SQL injection. Like most types of cyberattacks, SQL injection typically requires the exploitation of a vulnerability. Hackers will identify a vulnerability or weakness with your website’s SQL, after which they’ll exploit it. By scanning your website, you can find and correct the vulnerabilities to prevent hackers from exploiting them.
To scan your website for SQL vulnerabilities, visit pentest-tools.com/website-vulnerability-scanning/sql-injection-scanner-online. You can perform light scans for free. If there are any vulnerabilities present on a page, it will reveal them. Keep in mind that you don’t need to scan all of your website’s pages. Instead, you only need to scan pages that use SQL.
Install a Firewall
A firewall is an invaluable tool for protecting against SQL injection. When installed, it will monitor traffic coming into and out of your website. At the same time, the firewall will filter your website’s traffic according to a set of custom security rules. If a user fails to meet the security rules, the firewall will block them from accessing your website.
SQL injection is carried out by hackers, many of whom leave footprints. If your website is under attack from hackers in a specific geographic region, you can set up a firewall to filter traffic from that region. It won’t prevent users from submitting malicious commands, but a firewall will block users in the specified region from accessing your website.
Validating input will better protect your website from SQL injection. Input validation involves checking a user’s command for characters or strings of characters that could be used maliciously. For login fields or forms, commands should typically consist of alphanumeric characters. If a command contains special characters, it may be an SQL injection attempt.
Input validation can be performed server-side or client-side. Of those two methods, server-side input validation is more effective. The problem with client-side input validation is that it can be bypassed. Hackers can still submit malicious commands if you use client-side input validation. For the highest level of protection against SQL injection, use either server-side input validation or both server-side and client-side input validation.
Choose Third-Party Apps Wisely
If your website uses third-party apps, such as plugins, make sure they are trustworthy. Some third-party apps contain malware or malicious code. Using them on your website may create vulnerabilities that make it susceptible to SQL injection.
Before downloading a third-party app to use on your website, read the reviews. If the reviews are positive with no mentions of security issues, it’s probably safe to download. You can also scan apps using antivirus software.
Also, you must keep all third-party plugins and themes properly updated. Outdated plugins and themes are a vulnerability that hackers often exploit.
Updating your website’s SQL to the latest version will lower its risk of SQL injection. Old and depreciated versions of SQL often contain vulnerabilities. The only way to fix these vulnerabilities is to update your website’s SQL to the latest version.
You can usually update your website’s SQL from the control panel, such as cPanel. If you don’t see an option to update your website’s SQL, contact your hosting service provider for assistance. Some hosting services include automatic SQL updates. With automatic SQL updates, you won’t have to worry about updating your website’s SQL. Your hosting service provider will update it automatically when a new version comes out.
In addition to validating input, you can sanitize input to protect against SQL injection. Input sanitization is designed to strip potentially malicious characters from commands entered by users. If a user submits a command with characters that could be used for SQL injection, input sanitization will remove them.
Input sanitization is similar to input validation. Both safeguards involve checking the commands submitted by users. The main difference is that sanitization modifies commands, whereas validation does not. Input validation only checks to see whether commands contain potentially malicious characters or strings of characters. If they do, input validation will block the commands so that your website doesn’t process them.
With input sanitization, potentially malicious characters are removed from commands. It’s a form of data scrubbing. It will scrub the bad characters from user commands while leaving behind the good characters.
It only takes a single SQL injection to cause irreparable harm to your website. Instead of waiting until an attack occurs, go on the defensive by strengthening your website’s SQL security. Scanning for vulnerabilities, installing a firewall, validating input, choosing trustworthy apps, updating MQL, and sanitizing input will protect your website from SQL injection cyber attacks.
Pressable Helps Keep WordPress Websites Protected
As a premium managed WordPress hosting provider, Pressable provides customers with a web application firewall designed to prevent all types of cyber threats and keep your website up and running 24/7/365. Additionally, all Pressable hosting plans include Jetpack Security Daily for free (a $239 per year value) to provide an added layer of safety and protection.
Zach has 12+ years of experience with WordPress, from creating and maintaining client sites, to providing support and developing documentation. A knack for problem-solving and providing solutions led Zach to pursue a job with Automattic providing customer support in 2015 working with WooCommerce support, and now Zach has recently joined our team here at Pressable. Outside of work, Zach enjoys spending time with his family, playing and watching sports, and working on projects around the house.