There are various ways the hackers exploit the vulnerabilities of a website. Therefore, there are various ways of attacking a website’s security and get through it. Probably the easiest one of them has to be the SQL injection attack. While other attacks can use system resources and hence, relatively easy to detect, but SQL injection attack does not use any system resource.

An SQL injection attack is extremely dangerous as the hackers can read data from the database and insert data into the database. Therefore, the personal security of the customers will be compromised, private information like bank detail, card details, and even private photos can be leaked. Today, we are going to see how one can detect an SQL injection attack.

Methods To Detect SQL Injection Attacks –

The most common methods for detecting SQL injection attacks are web framework, static and dynamic analysis, and machine learning technique.

Web Framework – These are certain limitations to this method of detection. It can detect an SQL injection attack only when the SQL query from the hacker contains special characters. If the attack does not contain such a character or it is detouring, the method fails. The method works by filtering the special characters and identifying queries as SQL injection attack. This is the basic method though it has been upgraded significantly with time.

For example, PHP uses the web framework process of filtering 4 special characters only. When the four special characters are detected, a special character – backslash is added to nullify the attack. All in all, it is useful in detecting and nullifying the basic SQL injection attacks from amateur hackers. Professional hackers already know the filtering process, and they opt the other ways.

Static Analysis – In this method, the user input data are validated to reduce the chances of SQL injection attacks. It is not a true detection method because if a wicked input has the correct type of syntax, the analysis will fail to recognize the attack. Over the years, it has been improved with automated reasoning. It is based on the tautology concept. Therefore, SQL injection attacks except for a tautology cannot be identified.

Dynamic Analysis – Dynamic analysis is an improvement over static analysis, and it can detect the vulnerabilities from SQL injection attacks. In fact, it is able to spot various other kinds of vulnerabilities efficiently. It works by collecting the SQL queries between the client and the application and between the application and the database.

Then it analyzes the vulnerabilities, and it uses SQL inject attack codes to understand the vulnerability. The normal SQL queries are compared with attacked SQL queries, and it also decides whether the attack is successful or not. It is widely used as no modification in the application is required as it can run independently. But the vulnerabilities need to be fixed manually.

In fact, there are many who use static and dynamic analysis in combination for better detection.

Machine Learning Method –

There is no denying the fact that the machine learning technology is taking over the world. No wonders why it is also used in the intrusion detection system. The SQL queries are learned to generate the parameters of detection. The runtime SQL queries are then compared to the generated ones. Depending on the robustness of the generated parameters, most of the SQL injection attacks can be detected. There are various others way outs also available such as using a crawler based on machine learning method. The method is considered to be more effective than any other traditional detection and penetration testing. However, it cannot point out the vulnerabilities in the system.

Miscellaneous –

SQL Profiling – the profiled SQL queries of a web application is compared with dynamic SQL queries generated at runtime in this method. Therefore, there is no need for rewriting the web application. However, there is a need for chaining the SQL query profile when the web application changes in the future.

Instruction-Set Randomization – The method inserts random values into the SQL queries of the web application and checks the volatility which can, in turn, detect SQL injection attack. The use of SQLrand in the proxy server between the web and the database server is implemented here. If the random value is predicted by the hacker, the method will be ineffective.

Apart from these traditional ways, the developers use various tools and install them on the web and database servers that keep on check the SQL queries in real time. These tools are updated regularly, and there are greater chances of SQL injection detection with them than hard-coded methods implemented by the developers. The traditional ways are stale as the professional hackers always bypass them and create new ways of attacking which can only be countered with automated and robust detection and prevention tools. The Web hosts themselves provide all those tools, and there are many third-party tools also popular in the market.

Kitty Gupta