What is SQL injection?
SQL injection is a type of attack that allows attackers to inject malicious SQL code through a web page input. OWASP, the non-profit foundation that aims to improve software security, lists injection (including SQL injection) in the OWASP Top 10 list of vulnerabilities to look out for, having previously been the top vulnerability.
How does SQL injection work?
SQL injection works like other types of injections, only it’s directed towards the database. The attacker adds SQL code to an input form to gain unauthorized access to data, make edits, additions, deletions, or destroy the database.
Attackers can launch SQL injection in different ways, including:
- Error-based – In error-based attacks, the attacker forces the database to produce an error. Error data is then used to launch attacks.
- Union-based – In union-based attacks, the attacker takes advantage of the UNION operator to pass multiple statements.
- Boolean-based – In boolean-based attacks, the attacker sends specific queries to see if it generates changes in the HTTP response. Changes are used to gain a deeper understanding of the data.
- Time-based – In time-based attacks, the attacker sends special queries that allow them to time different response times and the ability to gain an insight into the data without receiving a response.
Why is SQL injection dangerous?
SQL injection attacks can be dangerous for many reasons. Attackers can gain access to data they are not meant to access, potentially including sensitive data such as user, commercial and cardholder data. They can also modify and delete data as well as add new entries, depending on the type of access they manage to gain. This can de-legitimize the data.
An attacker can also wipe out the entire database through an SQL injection, taking your WordPress website offline.
How SQL injection attacks target WordPress websites
While WordPress itself has mitigation measures in place to neutralize SQL injection attempts, 3rd party software such as themes and plugins may introduce SQL injection risks if they do not properly sanitize user-inputted data. While it’s highly unlikely that legitimate plugins will have SQL injection vulnerabilities, the same could not be said of nulled plugins – which offer no support and sparse updates.
Hence why it is important to not use nulled plugins, and to also do your homework when choosing the right plugins for your WordPress website.
How to protect your website from SQL injection attacks
Data needs to be validated and sanitized to mitigate SQL injection attacks, thus ensuring no unwanted SQL commands are being injected into the input. Reputable developers will ensure this before their plugins and themes are released – which is why it’s always worth going with a developer you can trust.
To start off with, it is important to always keep all your software up to date. On top of that, like with all the other security measures, a comprehensive approach to security will help you ensure you’re protected from different attacks as much as possible. As an SQL injection vulnerability may be introduced to your website via a third party, keeping your WordPress security in tip-top shape is vital.