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Term: SQL Injection

SQL Injection

SQL Injection is a common and dangerous cybersecurity vulnerability that targets the database layer of an application. It occurs when an attacker can insert malicious SQL (Structured Query Language) statements into an input field for execution, which can lead to unauthorized access, data theft, data manipulation, or even denial of service.

SQL is a programming language used to communicate with and manipulate databases. Most of the web applications today use an SQL-based database to store their data, making SQL injection one of the most harmful web application vulnerabilities.

The attack works by exploiting inadequate input validation in code. If user inputs are not properly sanitized before being included in an SQL query, an attacker can inject their own SQL commands into the query. When this manipulated query is run by the database, it can reveal sensitive information, modify data, or give the attacker elevated privileges.

For example, consider a simple login form that uses SQL to check the database for a matching username and password. An attacker might enter a specially crafted string such as “admin’ –” as the username. If input validation is poor, this could result in an SQL query like “SELECT * FROM users WHERE username = ‘admin’ –‘ AND password = ””. The “–” comment syntax in SQL effectively ignores the rest of the query, allowing the attacker to log in as the admin user without knowing the password.

There are several types of SQL Injection attacks, including classic SQL Injection, Blind SQL Injection, and Time-Based Blind SQL Injection. Classic SQL Injection is when an attacker can insert malicious SQL into a query and get a useful error message. In a Blind SQL Injection, the attacker receives nothing from the application, indicating the application is vulnerable but not revealing any details. With Time-Based Blind SQL Injection, the attacker sends an SQL query to the database which forces the application to wait for a specific time before responding.

To prevent SQL Injection, developers should use parameterized queries or prepared statements, where parameters are used instead of injecting values directly into the query. Input validation and sanitization are also essential, as they can prevent potentially harmful input from being included in SQL queries. Additionally, limiting the privileges of database accounts used by web applications can limit what an SQL Injection attack can do.

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