SQL injection (or SQLi) is a code injection technique that threat actors use to gain access to and modify information in a database. According to research, injection attacks were the third most serious web application security risk in 2021. In this article we will show how SQL injection works and why it is dangerous.
What is SQL Injection
SQL is a programming language that is designed for data in a relational data stream management system. The commands that SQL queries execute include commands to retrieve data, data update and records deletion.
SQL injection is the insertion of a malicious SQL query to an application via the input space that visitors use to fill in their details. SQLi is a common technique and therefore all organizations should be prepared to face it. This type of attack can damage a company’s systems in different ways. These include access to sensitive data, modification of database information, execution of administration operations and even destruction of the database.
The exact way a SQL injection works is as follows: An application asks a user for input (like their username) and instead, the user fills in a SQL statement that the system runs unknowingly. From there, they can take control of the system or make changes to the database.
A SQL injection can have many consequences and it may present confidentiality, authentication, authorization and integrity problems. Firstly, this attack can expose sensitive data. This is a very common result of SQLi. Some of this data could compromise users’ privacy, such as credit card numbers, if exposed. Furthermore, a threat actor could make changes or completely delete data through a SQL injection attack.
Another possibility is that a hacker can use the attack to check usernames and passwords and gain access to a system. Doing this, they can manipulate information that can be found in the system and cause additional damage.
There are different types of SQL injection, such as error-based injection, that uses error messages from a server to gain information about the database structure. Another example is the time-based injection, which makes the database delay a number of seconds before responding and the threat actor determines if the result is true or false, depending on how much time passed before a response.
As we mentioned before, SQL injection is a very common type of cyber-attack. Every company should be aware of it and be prepared to face it, before it actually happens to them.
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