Hack Prevention on SQL Servers – Action Guide

SQL SERVER
SQL SERVER

Preventing successful attacks on an SQL server is an ongoing process, and one which relies on a variety of strategies to achieve.
Here is a look at some of the key steps you can take to shore up security and stop malicious third parties from compromising your database at a time when attacks are becoming more commonplace.

Pre-emptive testing

Rather than making guesses about whether or not your SQL server is vulnerable to exploitation, you can be proactive and check to see exactly which areas of imperfection are present before someone else beats you to it.

There are a number of different automated tools designed for identifying SQL injection attack vulnerabilities, with the likes of SQLmap letting you carry out penetration tests in a controlled environment. Known flaws will be abused and any issues will be highlighted so that you can fix them.

Server migration

You can improve the level of protection afforded to your SQL server, as well as unburdening yourself of the responsibility of keeping malicious data out of the way, buy moving from an on-site solution to a remote alternative.

There are lots of reasons to migrate your SQL server to AWS, and hack prevention is just one of them. Being able to rely on the far larger security resources of an established cloud hosting platform will give you peace of mind, even if it is impossible to guarantee complete protection in any scenario.

Encryption

As just mentioned, there is no certainty in the world of cybersecurity and so it makes more sense to assume that your server will be successfully breached at some point, rather than crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. With that being the case, using encryption to prevent sensitive data and passwords from falling into the wrong hands even if a breach occurs is a good measure.

Updates

Whatever type of SQL server you are running, whether it is based on Windows, Linux or any other OS ecosystem, it is always sensible to take an eager approach to rolling out updates and installing patches as and when they are made available.

This may seem like a pain in certain circumstances, but it is worth considering that the dilemmas you will face if your unpatched server is hacked because of a known vulnerability that would have been dealt with if you were more on the ball will make such an inconvenience feel minor in comparison.

Data filtering

Some of the more common types of SQL hack can be instigated by attackers exploiting databases through the entering of non-standard user data. The best way to steer clear of the complications that this can cause is to make sure that only characters which make sense in the context of the data being delivered are allowed.

A good example of this is that phone numbers being entered into a database should be filtered to only allow digits from 0 to 9. The same tactics can be applied, with context-specific changes to the filter parameters of course, in other instances such as email addresses.

Input control

If you want to go even further than filtering data inputs according to context, you can get rid of free form user inputs altogether and instead adjust the UI via which your SQL server is controlled to consist solely of pre-defined drop down menus with the relevant options for each input.

Eliminating all freeform inputs may not be possible, but by keeping these to a minimum you will be limiting the potential number of weak points and keeping your server safer for longer.

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