Ways to Prevent SQL Injection Attacks

SQL injection is a common cybersecurity issue used by attackers as an entry point to your database. It can be a precursor of many other attacks like credential stuffing, account takeovers, and other forms of fraud. Therefore, it is essential to understand how to protect the application’s database to avoid heavy losses from SQL injections. In this post, we will discuss various ways that you can use to prevent SQL injection attacks.

Ways to prevent SQL injection attacks

Among the most dangerous threats to web applications today are SQL injection attacks. All is not lost to a network or database admin because there are various ways to prevent them from ever happening or minimize their occurrence frequency.

As we will see below, you can take various steps to reduce the risk of exposure to SQL injection attacks.

Regular auditing and penetration testing

It is becoming increasingly necessary to perform regular application, database, and network audits nowadays. With regulations like GDPR, a company does not have the luxury of relaxing on matters of database security. In addition, auditing the database logs for suspicious activities, privilege escalation, and variable binding terms are necessary practices.

As crucial auditing, the system for malicious behavior is, it is equally essential to perform penetration testing of your database to gauge the readiness of your response mechanisms to potential attacks that include SQL injection. Penetration testing companies can find threats like cross-site scripting, unpatched vulnerabilities, retired software, insecure password, and various forms of SQL injection.

User Input Validation

Validating the user inputs is a common step to preventing SQL injection attacks. You have first to identify the essential SQL statements and make a whitelist containing all valid SQL statements. This leaves out the invalidated statements. We refer to this process as query redesign or input validation.

Ensure you configure inputs for user data by context. For instance, you can filter email addresses to ensure that only strings that contain specific characters such as “@” are allowed. In a similar fashion. Ensure that you filter the social security and phone numbers using regular expressions to allow a specific format and number of digits in each of them.

typical eStore’s SQL database query

Sanitization of data through special character limitations

You can safeguard your database against SQL injection attacks through adequate sanitization of user data. SQL injection attackers use specific character sequences that are unique to exploit a database. Therefore, sanitizing your data not to allow concatenation of strings is a critical measure.

You can achieve this by configuring the inputs from a user to a function. It ensures that an attacker does not pass characters like quotes in an SQL query as they might be dangerous. Various administrators use prepared statements to avoid unauthenticated queries.

Parameterization and enforcing prepared statements.

Input validation and data sanitization do not fix all SQL injection-related issues. Therefore, organizations must use prepared statements containing queries that are parameterized to write database queries. We also call this variable binding. Distinguishing user input and code is made easy to define the SQL code used in a query or a parameter.

Although dynamic SQL as a programming method allows more flexibility in developing an application, it has the drawback of allowing SQL injection vulnerabilities as instructions. In addition, sticking to the standard SQL means malicious SQL inputs will be treated as data but not as a potential command.

Enforcing stored procedures in the database

Stored procedures use variable binding like parameterization. Unlike mitigating SQL injections using prepared statements, when you implement stored procedures, they are resident to the database and are only called from an application. If you use dynamic SQL generation, they minimize the effectiveness of stored procedures. According to OWASP (The Open Web Application Security Project®), only one parameterized approach is required, but neither is enough to guarantee optimal security.

Increasing the capability of the virtual and physical firewalls

To help fight malicious SQL queries, we recommend using software or appliance-based web application firewalls. Both NFGW and FWAAS firewall offerings are easy to configure and have a comprehensive set of rules. If a software security patch is yet to be released, you can find WAFs to be useful. One popular firewall is ModSecurity. It is available in Microsoft IIS, Apache, and Nginx servers. It has ever-developing and sophisticated rules to help filter potentially dangerous requests from the web. Its defenses for SQL injection can catch many attempts to sneak in malicious SQL queries from the web.

Reducing the attack surface

An attack surface is an array of vulnerabilities that an attacker can use as an entry point. Therefore, in the SQL injection context, it means that you do away with any functionalities in the database that you do not require or ensure further safety.

A good example is the xp_cmdshell extended storing procedure for the Microsoft SQL Server. It can spawn a command shell and pass a string for execution in windows. Since the process started by the xp_cmdshell has similar security privileges as the SQL Server service account, severe damage from the attacker can befall the database.

Encryption

One rule should always reign when dealing with matters on the internet. No connected application is secure. Therefore, ensure that you hash and encrypt your connection strings and confidential data. There are many encryptions and hashing tools that are cheap, easily accessible, or even open source. Today we must universally adopt encryption as a data protection mechanism. It is for a good reason. Without encrypting your data using appropriate hashing and encryption policies, when it falls in the hands of a malicious actor, all the data is in plain sight. There are various hashing mechanisms like SHA, LANNAN, and NTLM. Encryption algorithms in the market today are bcrypt, DES, RSA, TripleDES, among many others. According to Microsoft, through encryption, we transform the problem of protecting the data protecting cryptographic keys.

Monitoring the SQL statements continuously

Third-party vendors and organizations should ensure continuous monitoring of all SQL statements within an application or database-connected applications. They should also document the prepared statements, database accounts, and stored procedures. It is easier to identify SQL statements that are rogue and various vulnerabilities when you scrutinize the functioning of the SQL statements. Therefore, a database admin can disable or delete unnecessary accounts, the stored procedure, and prepared statements.

There are monitoring tools that use technologies like behavioral analysis and machine learning. They include tools like SIEM and PAM and are an excellent addition to an organization’s network security.

Take away about prevent SQL injection

It is essential to conduct regular penetration testing to evaluate how you have implemented measures to prevent SQL injection attack responses. Through this option, you can stay ahead of the attacker and prevent lawsuits and hefty fines from coming your way. Besides the above measures, you can implement other safeguards like limiting access, denying extended URLs from your application, not divulging error messages, among many others.

How to Manage Your Bitcoin Wallet Security?

In the early days of Bitcoin, it was very easy to manage your wallet account. In fact, you didn’t even need a wallet account. You simply had some bitcoins, and that was that. Now, things are a little more complicated. Cryptocurrency, especially bitcoin, has become highly valuable and because of this, there are several types of wallet accounts you can use to store your bitcoins.

Bitcoin wallet account security is extremely important.

You don’t want to lose your money or get scammed, so it’s worth doing some research on the topic.

(Overview) Practice good security habits for your bitcoin wallet account 

To keep your bitcoin wallet safe, follow these five steps:

  1. Keep your passwords (and usernames) secure. Make sure you use unique passwords for every account that has an associated bitcoin wallet.
  2. Back up your wallets. Try to avoid using online wallets if you can, but if you do use one make sure to back it up regularly. Also, make sure your computer is secure and the antivirus software on it is up to date.
  3. If you are using an online bitcoin wallet, make sure your passwords are secure and not easily guessed.
  4. If you’re using an offline wallet, back it up regularly.
  5. And last but definitely not least: NEVER share your private keys with anyone! If you do get scammed by someone who has them, there is nothing you can do to get your bitcoins back.

For the lazy, if you follow these rules, you should be fine. For more detail on some of these, please read on.

Expert Help

Get help from an expert if you have any questions about managing your bitcoin wallet account. This is not something you should try to tackle on your own, as there are many security considerations that need to be taken into account.

Backups

Don’t forget to set up automatic backups for important files that might be lost without them!

You never know when something could happen to wipe out all of your digital content – it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Consider using a hardware-based or paper-based backup to protect against data loss. A hardware-based backup is a great way to protect against loss or theft. Paper wallets are also an effective method of protection – they are simply pieces of paper containing your public key and a private key that is not connected to the internet.

Two-factor Authentication

Use two-factor authentication with your password and phone number whenever possible. Turn on SMS-based 2-factor authentication for added security. You can also use Google Authenticator or Authy, which generates codes even when your phone is offline.

Alerts and Notifications

Monitor your bitcoin wallet account and any other bitcoin accounts you used to send the bitcoins with at all times. Make sure someone doesn’t gain access to any of your bitcoin wallets by leaving an alert on all accounts.

Keep Records

Keep track of your transactions on a secure, encrypted platform like Blockchain Wallet (or another reputable site). This way, you can see how much money is in each of your accounts at all times and avoid overspending by accident!

Always check the bitcoin wallet address you are sending bitcoins to, as well as the amount of bitcoin that will be sent. Make sure both details match what you agreed with the recipient before completing the transaction. Also, monitor all transactions and account activity regularly.

Don’t Share Sensitive Information

Never share sensitive information such as bank details, passwords, or social security numbers online unless it’s 100% safe to do so! Your bitcoin wallet is no exception. Make sure you share all your information only when the page you are on starts with https (the “s” stands for secure).

Avoid Keeping Large Amounts of Bitcoins in One Place

You don’t want to lose everything if someone gains access to your bitcoin wallet by sending a phishing email. Avoid keeping large amounts of bitcoins in one place and only enter your bitcoin wallet address when you really need to.

It might seem like common sense, but clicking suspicious links can put your bitcoin wallet at risk. Never open an email attachment unless you know what it is. Instead, go directly to the website and look for your transaction information.

Take Away

Following these rules will put you well on your way to effectively managing your bitcoin wallet account. We all want to keep our finances safe, so use the above tips to ensure your money is secure against scammers.

Thanks for reading!

Why a VPN is the First Security Layer?

VPNs have become a popular buzzword in the world of cybersecurity in recent years. That is for a good reason, though. Many have realized the numerous benefits that come with using this type of software. You can use it to remain private online, encrypt your data, protect files, and watch geo-restricted content – the perks are endless. In this article, we will cover the most important points about VPNs, and discover why you should include it in your digital protection kit.

Do You Need a VPN?

Firstly, let’s answer the question – what is a VPN?

It stands for a virtual private network, and it is a type of software that acts as a security gateway between the user and the internet. What makes this particular software solution great is that it is multi-use, which we will discuss further in this article. In today’s age of digital exploitations, it has become a favorite tool for preserving one’s online anonymity. Most modern websites collect user data through cookies, tracking your online habits, and signup pages. Privacy is becoming more exposed, which is precisely why everyone should consider maintaining a secure online environment. .

Top 3 Benefits of Using a VPN

  1. It Preserves Your Online Privacy
    As we have briefly touched on before, data-driven marketing has become extremely popular. Companies use their websites and signup pages to collect user data, so they would optimize their campaigns and obtain a more significant reach. Moreover, hackers have also realized the worth of this data, so they often try to cause breaches and steal it – it has a huge value on the dark web. By using a VPN, you will stop leaving a digital footprint, your IP address would remain hidden, and you would be protected from both data farming companies and identity thieves.
  2. You Can Score Better Prices When Shopping Online 
    Dynamic pricing is a rather new pricing model that utilizes different factors to display prices accordingly. So, the algorithm considers information such as geolocation, shopping habits, and how many times you’ve entered the website to create a custom price. Unfortunately, these prices are often higher, especially if you’re based in first-world countries. However, by using a VPN, you can connect to another server, or simply hide your previous shopping habits. Consequently, you will receive better prices and save a couple of bucks.
  3. It’s Great for Cryptocurrency Users
    Because of how lucrative it is, the crypto industry has fallen victim to numerous cyberattacks. However, VPNs can help by encrypting all user data and traffic, deeming this information unusable for hackers. That means that your IP address, as well as your location, won’t be tied up with your crypto wallet address. Moreover, you will also be protected from viruses and other malicious software.

4 Tips for Choosing a Suitable Solution for Your Needs

Because VPNs have become so popular, more and more companies have started creating their own VPN-based solutions. However, because the market is becoming slowly saturated, it can be challenging to decide which provider to go with. Here are some essential tips you should take into consideration when choosing a suitable VPN solution.

  1. Always Go with Premium
    We strongly recommend purchasing a premium VPN subscription to enjoy all the benefits fully. Although free versions can be useful for smaller tasks, such as streaming geo-restricted content, they won’t be enough for more complex tasks. Moreover, premium subscriptions offer more server locations and a more reliable internet connection.
  2. Compare Features
    Although some features are standard for all companies, not all of them offer the same services. Look for companies that provide advanced security features, military-grade encryption, secure internet protocols, an integrated killswitch, and anonymous DNS servers.
  3. Look for No-Log Policies
    The whole point of using a VPN is to conceal your online activities and remain anonymous online. However, some VPN companies log data for a set number of weeks because of rules and regulations they have to abide by. When choosing a suitable provider, make sure to look for companies with strict no-log policies, to ensure that your information is safe and secure.
  4. Beware Where the VPN Provider is Based
    Some countries, such as the USA, the UK, Canada, and Sweden, belong to a pact known as the fourteen eyes. The countries have agreed to share all user data with each other’s intelligence agencies. If your particular VPN provider is based in any of these fourteen countries, your data may be subject to international sharing. 

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How Much Does a Hosting Server Cost Per User for an App?

When designing a business plan for a heavy load application, it is very important to take into account and accurately calculate such costs as the pricing of the hosting service where the application data will be stored. Large-scale applications, such as social networks, can become a real problem for their owners if the associated costs are calculated wrong initially.

Just imagine: thousands of users every day supplement the application database with messages, photos, and other media files – how much storage space is needed, how much can it cost and how much does a hosting server cost per user for a social network app? Will your application become a “dead” project because of the high maintenance expenses? In this article, we plan to describe the order of calculating the cost of the server hosting for large applications to avoid unpleasant financial surprises after the app release.

What is the basis for calculating the average server cost per user?

It is important to keep in mind that server hostings are characterized not only by the provisioned storage space but also by communication channel bandwidth and hardware capacities. Thus, the mobile app backend hosting cost can be calculated based on the following indicators:

  • The cost of each Storage Gigabyte;
  • The cost of each Megabit of Bandwidth;
  • The cost of the Server’s Performance.

Also, the cost of server hosting can be affected by equipment maintenance expenses, technical support charges, and other factors.

How to calculate the cost of Server Hosting?

How much does a social app cost to run? Depending on the pricing parameters, the cost of server hosting for a heavy application can be calculated in several ways.

#1 Calculation according to the Storage Space Cost (SSC)

A very simple calculation scheme, for which it is required to approximate the number of application users and the maximum storage limits for each of them. The rough estimation is simple: if the cost of storing the object is $0.1 per GB of space per month and your application is calculated, say, for 5000 users, with a limit of 2 GB, the result of multiplying all the numbers (5000 × 2 × 0.1) the monthly cost of the server would be $1000.

It is important to understand that this calculation gives only an approximate cost of required hosting. The actual number of users may differ, and each user will not necessarily use all the space provided to them. Thus, you can make an assumption about the actual use of the server space (as a percentage of the initial number of users and disk space) and use this coefficient to adjust the appraisal.

#2 Own/Rented server

Buying or renting a whole server can significantly reduce the cost of hosting, but requires the seed capital. For example, for an application designed for the same 5000 users and 2 GB storage limit (10,000 GB or 10 TB), you need to purchase about 2 servers with 8x 2TB SATA disks (taking into account the cost of server space for user data, operating systems, application backend and RAID reservation), the cost of which is about $3000 each, plus additional equipment (racks, etc.), the totals would approximate to $6500. If you have such a starting amount, you can recoup the costs for 2 years at a server cost of $270-300 per month. Thus, the price of one GB of space for one user would equal to $0.06.

Making a long-term business plan with the calculation of hosting costs for the above scheme it is important to consider the expiration of the equipment. Any device has an approximate service life and needs regular replacement.

Another variant suitable for those who do not have sufficient starting capital is server equipment rental. Calculating the cost to maintain an application when renting server hardware can be carried out according to the same scheme, but taking into account the monthly rental fees.

Testing the application to determine the required hosting parameters

All the previous estimation methods are based only on the approximate assumptions of the user numbers and the necessary space for each user. Such calculations do not take into account the traffic, the required processor power, the average load on the server and many other factors. The calculation for these models is suitable for compiling a primary business plan for understanding the profitability of the application even before work on it is started.

However, in order to obtain more or less accurate data on the required server capacity and volume for an already developed application and, accordingly, calculate the cost of server hosting, a deeper approach is needed.

The best and accurate calculations are given by testing the required application efficiency using the specially developed software. Such test programs create “virtual users” that simulate the actions of real users of the application, measuring the loads to identify the optimal configuration of the application’s server part infrastructure.

The essence of the testing

To test the application architecture, worker threads mirroring virtual users are used, each of which can execute one of three action scenarios:

  • Light (authorization, login to the server, viewing the application partitions, sending/receiving requests);
  • Medium (to the light scenario’s actions, sending/receiving messages, uploading photos, viewing photos of other users, sending/receiving pictures are added);
  • Heavy (extensive exploitation of all the application features).

Typical time between each script action is established to 1 second.

Thus, gradually increasing the number of threads, each of which randomly engages one of the scenarios, the testing application measures the load on the server part of the application in its different configurations. As soon as any element of the application starts to work incorrectly, the test stops and changes the infrastructure configuration.

Most of the established outsourcing software development companies have such a sophisticated in-house testing program.

Results

The result of the test is the optimal configuration of the application infrastructure, which can support the maximum number of users simultaneously using the application. It also calculates the maximum hardware capabilities required for the application, based on which you can calculate the server hosting cost for the application most accurately.

Also, based on the results of the test, you can choose the hosting model (renting server hosting, renting server equipment or colocation, own server), which will not only be most advantageous financially but also meet the requirements of the application in the case of high loads.

Summary

When developing large applications similar to social networks or media hosting, an important part of the business plan will be to estimate server costs per user. For preliminary calculations at the design stage of the application, you can employ simple mathematical models:

Number of users/space for each – to calculate hosting and storage costs/necessary equipment expenses/monthly fees – when buying or renting equipment

However, for accurate calculations of the cost of hosting and choosing the most beneficial server interaction model (purchase, lease, colocation) in mobile development for Android or iOS, professional testing is necessary that would take into account all the appropriate factors. Only after calculating the necessary application load on the server can you tell exactly which server parameters will best meet the needs of the application and, based on the received data, clearly estimate the cost of hosting – total and average server cost per user.