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  • Writer's pictureSara Millis

SQL Injection Attack: What is it, how bad is it and can you prevent it

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

Every business has a database, one that’s used across the business to win new contracts, invoice clients for payment and remit staff payroll. But did you know that this very important piece of your business puzzle could be under attack?

In this article, we are going to cover one of the biggest threats to your database, the SQL Injection Attack. We will look at what it is, how it works and how you can prevent it.

Let’s dive in.

Image of a bank of servers

Let’s start by asking “what is SQL?”

SQL stands for Standard Query Language and is a computer language specifically designed to both manage data and provide the streamed processing of information held in a domain-based database.

In other words, it is the one bit of your database system that has access to all your data with the sole purpose of information retrieval, entry updates and record removals.

Created in the 1970s, SQL is still used today as one of the more common computer languages used in database building. The aim is that it sorts your data in a way that helps you automate this part of your software management.

How GDPR affects your data management

If your database includes entries from persons within the European Union, then the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law is something you need to adhere to. Compliance includes effectively protecting against SQL injection attacks (SQLi) and reporting breaches correctly.

This is why understanding cyber threats is so important.

What is a SQL Injection Attack?

An SQLi attack is where a hacker exploits a cybersecurity flaw to gain access to a database created with a standard query language. The “injection” is a malicious SQL code aimed at the backend of your database allowing the hacker to enter your system through false administration rights and manipulate or hold your sensitive data for ransom using Ransomware.

This can be deeply damaging for a business, especially where long-term customer trust is concerned because theft of data can include exploiting clients’ personal and financial data.

Want to know more about cyber threats and how they each work to take down your business? Check out our free cybercrime guide.

How common are SQL Injection Attacks?

Between 2017 and 2019 it was reported that two-thirds of web applications using Akamai firewalls suffered SLQi attacks. This figure was up from the two years previous by 44%, which is likely to reflect other firewall company findings, and it’s easy to understand why.

As more and more businesses switch to cloud-based services, database technology has also moved into the online space making it a bigger target for hackers.

Infographic sharing teh largest SQLI attack as discussed in the blog content

The biggest recorded SQLi attack cost a staggering $300 million to Heartland Payment Systems in 2009, where over 160 million credit card numbers were compromised. Some would say that 3 of the cybercriminals responsible got off too lightly when sentenced between 2010 and 2013. Three more of the gang have yet to be caught.

This is likely to be why SQLi attacks are so common, there isn’t an effective way to find, detain and lawfully prosecute this type of cybercrime.

How to prevent a SQL Injection Attack?

Here’s how we recommend you protect your business against SQLi attacks

  1. Before you install apps on your work devices and PCs make sure you understand their cybersecurity and GDPR compliance.

  2. Check the security protocols and GDPR compliance for the applications you integrate with your websites, SaaS applications, devices and PCs.

  3. List all of your applications and software integrations that play a role in database access and handling.

  4. Make sure you have a business-wide protocol to limit unapproved application or integration downloads to SaaS applications, business devices and PCs.

  5. Invest in good antivirus software and firewalls.

  6. Include SQLi and GDPR discussion and training in your staff cybersecurity sessions.

  7. Create a database management team. Make sure you understand who is responsible for which parts of the system, its upkeep and GDPR compliance. Include rules for things like audits and attack fallout.

  8. Create cyberattack audit protocols, so you know who is responsible and when they are auditing your systems and devices.

  9. Create a cyberattack protocol, so you know what to do and who should do it, in the event of an attack.

Need help protecting your business against a SQL Injection Attack?

Running your business is a full-time job, that’s why we have made it our business to help you protect what’s most important, your IT. Whether it is database management, or accessing Teams via your iPad we will help you find the perfect IT solution that fits your business.

Contact us today and we’ll have your IT sorted in no time!


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