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How can I prevent SQL-injection in PHP?

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If user input is inserted without modification into an SQL query, then the application becomes vulnerable to SQL injection, like in the following example:

$unsafe_variable = $_POST['user_input']; 

mysql_query("INSERT INTO `table` (`column`) VALUES ('$unsafe_variable')");

That's because the user can input something like value'); DROP TABLE table;--, and the query becomes:

INSERT INTO `table` (`column`) VALUES('value'); DROP TABLE table;--')

What can be done to prevent this from happening?

4Answer


0

Use prepared statements and parameterized queries. These are SQL statements that are sent to and parsed by the database server separately from any parameters. This way it is impossible for an attacker to inject malicious SQL.

You basically have two options to achieve this:

  1. Using PDO (for any supported database driver):
    $stmt = $pdo->prepare('SELECT * FROM employees WHERE name = :name');
    
    $stmt->execute(array('name' => $name));
    
    foreach ($stmt as $row) {
        // do something with $row
    }
  2.  Using MySQLi (for MySQL):
    $stmt = $dbConnection->prepare('SELECT * FROM employees WHERE name = ?');
    $stmt->bind_param('s', $name);
    
    $stmt->execute();
    
    $result = $stmt->get_result();
    while ($row = $result->fetch_assoc()) {
        // do something with $row
    }

 

If you're connecting to a database other than MySQL, there is a driver-specific second option that you can refer to (e.g. pg_prepare() and pg_execute() for PostgreSQL). PDO is the universal option.

Correctly setting up the connection

Note that when using PDO to access a MySQL database real prepared statements are not used by default. To fix this you have to disable the emulation of prepared statements. An example of creating a connection using PDO is:

$dbConnection = new PDO('mysql:dbname=dbtest;host=127.0.0.1;charset=utf8', 'user', 'pass');

$dbConnection->setAttribute(PDO::ATTR_EMULATE_PREPARES, false);
$dbConnection->setAttribute(PDO::ATTR_ERRMODE, PDO::ERRMODE_EXCEPTION);

In the above example the error mode isn't strictly necessary, but it is advised to add it. This way the script will not stop with a Fatal Error when something goes wrong. And it gives the developer the chance to catch any error(s) which are thrown as PDOExceptions.

What is mandatory however is the first setAttribute() line, which tells PDO to disable emulated prepared statements and use real prepared statements. This makes sure the statement and the values aren't parsed by PHP before sending it to the MySQL server (giving a possible attacker no chance to inject malicious SQL).

Although you can set the charset in the options of the constructor, it's important to note that 'older' versions of PHP (< 5.3.6) silently ignored the charset parameter in the DSN.

Explanation

What happens is that the SQL statement you pass to prepare is parsed and compiled by the database server. By specifying parameters (either a ? or a named parameter like :name in the example above) you tell the database engine where you want to filter on. Then when you call execute, the prepared statement is combined with the parameter values you specify.

The important thing here is that the parameter values are combined with the compiled statement, not an SQL string. SQL injection works by tricking the script into including malicious strings when it creates SQL to send to the database. So by sending the actual SQL separately from the parameters, you limit the risk of ending up with something you didn't intend. Any parameters you send when using a prepared statement will just be treated as strings (although the database engine may do some optimization so parameters may end up as numbers too, of course). In the example above, if the $name variable contains 'Sarah'; DELETE FROM employees the result would simply be a search for the string "'Sarah'; DELETE FROM employees", and you will not end up with an empty table.

Another benefit with using prepared statements is that if you execute the same statement many times in the same session it will only be parsed and compiled once, giving you some speed gains.

Oh, and since you asked about how to do it for an insert, here's an example (using PDO):

$preparedStatement = $db->prepare('INSERT INTO table (column) VALUES (:column)');

$preparedStatement->execute(array('column' => $unsafeValue));

Can Prepared Statements Be Used For Dynamic Queries?

While you can still use prepared statements for the query parameters, the structure of the dynamic query itself cannot be parametrized and certain query features cannot be parametrized.

For these specific scenarios, the best thing to do is use a whitelist filter that restricts the possible values.

// Value whitelist
  // $dir can only be 'DESC' or 'ASC'
$dir = !empty($direction) ? 'DESC' : 'ASC'; 
  • answered 3 years ago
  • Gul Hafiz

0

Parameterized query AND input validation is the way to go. There is many scenarios under which SQL injection may occur, even though mysql_real_escape_string() has been used.

Those examples are vulnerable to SQL injection:

$offset = isset($_GET['o']) ? $_GET['o'] : 0;
$offset = mysql_real_escape_string($offset);
RunQuery("SELECT userid, username FROM sql_injection_test LIMIT $offset, 10");

or

$order = isset($_GET['o']) ? $_GET['o'] : 'userid';
$order = mysql_real_escape_string($order);
RunQuery("SELECT userid, username FROM sql_injection_test ORDER BY `$order`");

In both cases, you can't use ' to protect the encapsulation.

SourceThe Unexpected SQL Injection (When Escaping Is Not Enough)

  • answered 3 years ago
  • Gul Hafiz

0

In my opinion, the best way to generally prevent SQL injection in your PHP application (or any web application, for that matter) is to think about your application's architecture. If the only way to protect against SQL injection is to remember to use a special method or function that does The Right Thing every time you talk to the database, you are doing it wrong. That way, it's just a matter of time until you forget to correctly format your query at some point in your code.

Adopting the MVC pattern and a framework like CakePHP or CodeIgniter is probably the right way to go: Common tasks like creating secure database queries have been solved and centrally implemented in such frameworks. They help you to organize your web application in a sensible way and make you think more about loading and saving objects than about securely constructing single SQL queries.

 
  • answered 3 years ago
  • Gul Hafiz

0

There are many ways of preventing SQL injections and other SQL hacks. You can easily find it on the Internet (Google Search). Of course PDO is one of the good solution. But I would like to suggest you some good links prevention from SQL Injection.

What is SQL injection and how to prevent

PHP manual for SQL injection

Microsoft explanation of SQL injection and prevention in PHP

and some other like Preventing SQL injection with MySQL and PHP

Now, why you do you need to prevent your query from SQL injection?

I would like to let you know: Why do we try for preventing SQL injection with a short example below:

Query for login authentication match:

$query="select * from users where email='".$_POST['email']."' and password='".$_POST['password']."' ";

Now, if someone (a hacker) puts

$_POST['email']= admin@emali.com' OR '1=1

and password anything....

The query will be parsed in the system only upto:

$query="select * from users where email='admin@emali.com' OR '1=1';

The other part will be discarded. So, what will happen? A non-authorized user (hacker) will be able to login as admin without having his password. Now, he can do anything what admin/email person can do. See, it's very dangerous if SQL injection is not prevented.

  • answered 3 years ago
  • Gul Hafiz

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