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How to Secure Your Startup From SQL Injection Attacks

Cybersecurity is a buzzing topic these days. Technology has created amazing opportunities for people, but unfortunately, this includes fraudsters that use tricks to steal data and money. As we come up with new security measures, fraudsters are getting creative with how they perform their SQL injection, phishing, and other cyber attacks.

No one is immune to the risks these days. Giants like Binance lose millions in coins due to cyber attacks. Ransomware attacks cost companies millions, such as the CWT Global ransom payment of $4.5 million in Bitcoin. New phishing attacks appear on the market all the time.

Leading in numbers among all these attacks, SQL injection is the most present form of cybercrime these days. Research shows that SQLi now represents almost two-thirds of all attacks on web applications.

As the use of web-based apps is continuing to grow in the world, SQL injection threats also grow in number. That being said, it is crucial that all companies, especially startups that are highly vulnerable, take steps to protect their digital assets.

This article will teach you the best tricks to secure your startup from SQL injection attacks.

What are SQL injection attacks?

SQL injection is a type of attack where criminals execute malicious statements from behind a web app, over a database server. Criminals use vulnerabilities as an entrance to conduct their malicious SQL statements. These vulnerabilities are a quick means to bypass the security measures set in place to protect the application.

Let’s say that a hacker wants to do an SQL injection on your startup. They look for a way around authorization and authentication prompts on your app or web page. Once they find this, they use it to capture the content of your SQL database. They can access and use, add, delete, or modify records you keep in the database.

When an SQL injection attack goes as the fraudster planned it, it can accomplish any of the following – or a few of them:

  • Capture sensitive information from your database server
  • Change existing information in the database, or delete it altogether
  • Shut down the DBMS or access files from it
  • Execute commands on your operations system

This can be devastating for a business. Just imagine a hacker getting access to the banking details of your customers, or the personal data you are storing! This happened recently with Magento. Their failure to protect users left over 300,000 ecommerce stores open to cyberattacks, which resulted in stealing credit card data from millions of online buyers.

Tips for securing your startup from SQL injection attacks

In an ideal world, you could remove all vulnerabilities from your startup’s app or web page and rid yourself of such risks. But, this is not an option. Websites and apps that use an SQL database are inherently vulnerable to such threats.

What you can do is learn more about them and identify them before they do a lot of harm to your startup. Here are the best ways to do this:

1.   Use DataDome for smart attack prevention

Hackers hardly ever perform their attacks manually. They use bots to access websites and apps and look for vulnerabilities. Today, the best chance you have at detecting these bots and preventing them from accessing your information is to use a tool to scan everything for you.

That’s where DataDome comes into the picture. This tool will detect scanning bots in real time and block them automatically before they can do harm to your startup. The protection doesn’t impact your actual visitors but prevents criminals from proceeding with their SQL injection attacks.

DataDome will deploy in minutes on a web or app infrastructure and won’t do any changes to its architecture. It works on its own, so your job at this is almost non-existent.

Imagine that – not having to worry about bots attacking your website from all sides. While it is pretty much impossible for you to analyze the billions of daily events on your site or app, this automated solution can do it at all times. Thanks to AI and machine learning, DataDome will determine if a visitor is a bot or a human within milliseconds.

2.   Verify the user input

Users are why you created your startup and your application. However, the rule of thumb every startup must know is that you cannot believe what every user tells you. Sometimes they omit important information or don’t pay enough attention to provide the right data. At other times, the user will not be a real user, so the data you get won’t be from an actual human.

The latter is a gateway to cyber-attacks.

This is why the next step in our list is to verify user input. If you have authentication protocols, that’s a smart move. But, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check the input once again.

This applies to everything from data in text boxes to file uploads and checkboxes. Face it – even if your app has many measures to prevent data tampering, this doesn’t make it impossible. Your encryption standards are a good move, but even they can be re-encrypted by fraudsters. The basic measures such as strong passwords are no longer enough for an online security boost, not when your company has a lot to lose if it falls victim to such attacks.

3.   Limit access to your database

There’s a reason why companies limit access to certain parts of the database to only a few people – this helps them protect what’s in it. A trickster in your circles or even someone making a mistake can cost your startup a fortune.

Stop giving all privileges to everyone on your team. Granting people unlimited access can seriously jeopardize your database. Instead, use a principle called the principle of least privilege or POLP.

How does POLP work?

Whenever you hire a person or give someone access, think about how much access they need to do their job. If they don’t need constant access to some part of your database, don’t offer it to them. You can provide it when they need it – and only then.

People in your company can unintentionally open the doors to cyber criminals. So, limit access to only a few and make sure they know what to do to prevent this from happening.

4.   Use only trusted third-party apps

Chances are, your startup will sometimes need to provide access to the SQL database to third parties such as banking apps or tools used to help run the business. This is inevitable and will help you manage your tasks easily, but it can also make you vulnerable to attacks.

To avoid creating vulnerabilities, use only apps from trusted sources. Use tools that are known to have great SSL protocols in place, and tools with a perfect reputation on the market.

Even if the tool is as safe as it gets, make sure to only give access to as much of your database as they need to do what you want them to – no more.

5.   Implement patches promptly

Your vendors keep track of vulnerabilities as part of their security measures. When they detect something, they’ll share with you a patching protocol to implement to keep your app safe. Watch for these patching protocols and implement them promptly to close vulnerabilities.

Why is this so important?

It’s because fraudsters also track these patches. They tell them about the vulnerabilities, too, which means that if you don’t implement the new measures, fraudsters will have a new way to attack your business.

6.   Limit error-message displays

Have you noticed how, when you make too many password mistakes on a website, you aren’t given a chance to try again? Many businesses today have such protocols in place and these are put in to avoid what we call a brute force attack.

Criminals these days don’t mind the ‘unsuccessful’ message when they try to get to your database. They’ll try and try until the message no longer shows and until they get their way in.

You have two options in this case:

  • Turn it off altogether
  • Limit the number of times you’ll show the message

The first option is not applicable in all cases, but wherever you can use it, it will keep your data safer. This way, you only allow internal users to access the error message and use the troubleshooting feature.

In the first case, you’re decreasing the possibility of hackers getting through the system. It’s not a sure way to prevent this, but it definitely makes a difference.

Are you keeping your startup safe from SQL attacks?

If you haven’t been doing the things in this list, chances are your startup is highly vulnerable to these attacks. Don’t think that just because you are starting with the business, you aren’t at risk of attacks. On the opposite – fraudsters thrive on attacking new businesses that haven’t put good security measures in place.

Start today. Implement step after step to prevent the big damage that can happen if you fall victim to a SQL injection attack.