Protecting your customers from potential data breaches directly impacts your credibility as a business. Customers are more likely to trust you. However, protecting your website from security threats impacts your business itself.
It is simple–if your website gets compromised, your business automatically shuts down, or you lose some customers and eventually credibility. So you need to ensure that your website is up-to-date and secure as it isn’t just a representation of your business but also consists of the most sensitive and valuable information.
Hackers today are efficient enough to find vulnerabilities in a website and attempt to steal, manipulate or even gain admin access to the database server. This is why it is important to give limited access to users even when you trust them. After all, you would not want to leave any hole in the security system, right?
Well, limiting user rights is one way to protect your website. There are many others. You may be wondering how. How to prevent SQL injection attacks? While keeping your website 100 percent free from SQL injection attacks or any other type of malicious attack is impossible, certain steps can mitigate the possibility. In this article, we will look at five ways you can protect your website against these attacks.
So let’s get to it.
5 ways to protect your website from SQL injection attacks
A secure website is a must, whether a small business or an established one. As mentioned earlier, there is no guarantee that your website won’t ever undergo an SQL injection attack, but you can surely take some measures to protect it. Below mentioned are a few ways. You can use all/any practice/s to keep your website safe.
1. Always verify the user input
The first thumb rule to protecting your website from such attacks is never to trust user input. Yes, you don’t need to believe every user’s input is from the user itself. While you may have authentication protocols, you must verify the inputs. This stands true for simple inputs like text areas or text boxes but for all other types, including file uploads, checkboxes, hidden inputs, etc.
Simply because the browser does not allow users to tamper with the data, it does not mean it is impossible. Several tools enable users to capture HTTP requests and modifications before submitting the data to the server. While if you think you have strong encryption standards in place, even they can be decrypted and re-encrypted by malicious users.
So it is always important to verify user input.
2. Limit the user access to database
A minor casualty from your end could cost you your business. You must restrict user rights and think twice before checking the “all privileges” flag. Giving all the rights to a user grants them unlimited access, which could jeopardize your website if hacked.
Instead, use the principle of least privilege (POLP). Ask yourself how much access the user requires and provide that much access. Also, you should avoid using “root” or “sa” accounts to connect your web app to the database server, making it simpler for hackers to steal data.
As mentioned before, a compromised administrative account can give hackers access to the whole system. Also, restricting access rights is not enough. Even users with non-administrative privileges have access to all the databases and are shared across different applications and databases.
Using an account with simple read and write permissions is advisable, especially for the database behind your website. This ensures that the damage is minimized even if your website gets hacked.
3. Limit specific error message displays
You might have come across many login screens that prompt specific error messages. For instance, if you enter a wrong username or number, the error message says, “ User ‘Karen12’ not found”. The issue with such an error message is that they display the value to the user. If it is a malicious user on the other end, they may continue inputting random values until the message no longer shows.
This is injecting a system using a brute force attack. In order to prevent this from happening, you can either :
- Limit the number of times you show the error message
- Turn it off completely
If you choose option 1, the possibility of getting through the system decreases. In comparison, the latter option is safer. It allows only the internal users to access the error message and troubleshoot.
4. Avoid storing sensitive data if not required
Avoiding storing sensitive information in your database is one of the primary steps to protecting your website from SQL injection attacks. Whenever you store data, consider the damage it could lead to if it falls into the wrong hands and decide if you need to keep it or not.
You can mitigate some serious potential damage if you refrain from storing sensitive data in your database. Perform penetration tests at regular intervals
A network penetration testing is the best way to evaluate the security of your website. It helps by finding flaws like weak passwords, open ports, and unpatched software in a network. Many web applications nowadays use automation testing. However, with SQL injections getting smarter in exploiting websites, professionals are now moving towards manual testing.
If you haven’t considered manual testing, it is wise to explore the option with the help of a security vendor. Manual testing helps you authenticate user inputs against scenarios, including syntax, data type, and length. Due to this, you can spot errors discreetly and patch the code before malicious users can use it to their advantage.
Wrapping up 5 ways to protect your website against SQL injection
SQL injections are not a new way of attacking a website. It has been around for decades and is here to stay. In fact, it is one of the most prominent ways for hackers to steal or alter data. So, it should be your top priority as a business to take appropriate steps to protect yourself and your users against it.
The easiest way to prevent an SQL injection is never to trust user input and verify it. However, it is not enough. It would help if you were prepared for when an SQL injection may occur and how to mitigate the harm. Regularly checking for any vulnerabilities or security holes may also help.
Follow the ways mentioned in the article and protect your business from collapsing. All the best!
Parita Pandya is an Engineer turned Writer. She usually finds herself writing for businesses. When she is not writing, she is either strumming her guitar or penning her thoughts down on paritapandya.com.