Navigating SQL Injection Vulnerabilities with DAST for Modern AppSec

Richard Sherrard

Last updated on: April 23, 2024

The digital landscape is continuously evolving, and with it, the strategies for safeguarding our applications against vulnerabilities. In a recent advisory, CISA & the FBI have highlighted the critical importance of conducting thorough reviews of code and supply chains. The aim is to unearth any susceptibilities to SQL Injection (SQLi) vulnerabilities and implement robust mitigations to eliminate this class of defects across all software products—current or future. This directive, while ambitious, is a testament to the urgency and necessity of addressing SQLi vulnerabilities in today’s digital environment, especially in light of the highlighted exploits by the CLOP Ransomware Gang and the substantial financial implications (estimations ranging from $75M-$100M) they have had on companies worldwide.

SQL Injections: A Catch-22 for Web Applications

Imagine a scenario where your web application’s dialogue with its database can be subtly manipulated. This is the essence of an SQL Injection (SQLi) vulnerability. Through this method, attackers can insert malicious SQL code into seemingly harmless user inputs, such as login forms or search queries. The repercussions of such actions can range from unauthorized access to sensitive data and control over the database to significant disruptions in service. Here are some examples:

  • Stolen sensitive data with access to the customer database, financial records, or any other Personally Identifiable Information (PII) stored within.
  • Database control, in severe cases, with administrative privileges, can lead to manipulation or even deletion of the entire database.
  • Disrupted operations with web applications or database crashes can cause outages and frustrate customers.

Why Do SQLi Vulnerabilities Persist?

The root of SQLi vulnerabilities often lies in how web applications handle user input. SQLi vulnerabilities arise when an application’s data handling processes fail to properly sanitize or validate user input, allowing attackers to insert or “inject” malicious SQL commands into these user inputs, which are then executed by the database. Such vulnerabilities are a consequence of a fundamental oversight in the design and development of the application, where user inputs are integrated directly into SQL queries without adequate checking or sanitization.

While traditional testing methods like manual code review and penetration testing have their place, they often fall short when it comes to scalability and thoroughness, particularly for complex and expansive applications. Here’s why:

  • Scalability Issues: Manual code reviews and penetration testing are labor-intensive and time-consuming processes. As applications grow in size and complexity, manually examining every line of code or testing every potential entry point for vulnerabilities becomes impractical.
  • Thoroughness and Coverage: While traditional methods are invaluable for identifying certain types of vulnerabilities, their effectiveness is inherently limited by human capacity. Testers might not be able to exhaustively test every possible input or attack vector, especially in applications that are frequently updated or Zero-Day attacks.
  • Adaptation to Continuous Development: Modern web applications are often developed using agile methodologies, resulting in frequent updates and changes. Traditional testing methods may struggle to keep pace with these rapid cycles, potentially leaving new code unreviewed or untested before it’s deployed.

The Game Changer Called DAST

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) tools, such as Qualys Web Application Scanning (WAS), emerge as pivotal players in automatically identifying vulnerabilities, including SQLi, across the entire application portfolio, addressing the scalability and thoroughness issues presented by traditional methods.

By acting as an automated security scanner, simulating attacks, and crawling web applications, DAST tools proactively identify vulnerabilities, especially SQLi like CWE-89: SQL Injection, OWASP Top 10 [A03:2021 – Injection], enabling organizations to fortify their applications against potential breaches.

Qualys WAS is a leading cloud-based DAST solution that detects runtime vulnerabilities, misconfigurations & compliance issues, including OWASP Top 10, using automated, continuous scanning & monitoring. Qualys WAS empowers users to:

  • Measure risk withcomprehensiveweb app & API discovery for maximum asset coverage and comprehensive protection.
  • Communicating the risk of vulnerabilities detected with continuous monitoring & precise risk prioritization.
  • Eliminate the risk of security issues& misconfigurations with rapid threat mitigation.

Here are some ways Qualys WAS can elevate application security posture:

  • Automated Scanning: Qualys WAS automates the identification of SQL injection vulnerabilities, streamlining the detection process and alleviating the workload on security teams.
  • Efficient and Expansive: Capable of scanning extensive applications swiftly, ensuring a broad coverage and enabling focused remediation strategies.
  • Comprehensive Insights: Offers a holistic view of the application’s security posture by examining various attack vectors, surpassing the limitations of manual testing.
  • Accuracy in Detection: Qualys WAS effectively distinguishes between actual vulnerabilities and false positives, optimizing the efforts of security teams.
  • Integration and Continuity: Seamlessly integrates with the development lifecycle, facilitating continuous monitoring and early detection of vulnerabilities.
  • Enhancing Developer Efficiency: Provides developers with precise, actionable information on vulnerabilities, aiding in prompt and effective remediation efforts.

By adopting DAST and leveraging solutions like Qualys WAS, organizations can navigate the complexities of SQL injection vulnerabilities with confidence and precision.

Start with our 30-day no-cost trial of Qualys WAS and begin your journey towards a more secure AppSec strategy.

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