How to Prevent SQL Injection Attack in WordPress
When it comes to building trust on your WordPress site, one of the most important elements is security. That includes protecting yourself from SQL injection attacks that could compromise your site, and leave valuable data (both yours and that of your users) exposed.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can protect yourself and your site. By taking the necessary precautions, such as avoiding dynamic SQL, using a firewall, encrypting confidential data, and so on, you can better ensure your WordPress site’s safety.
In this article, we’ll first show you how you can protect yourself from SQL injection attacks. Then we’ll go over some plugins you can use to further increase your site’s security. Let’s get started!
What is an SQL Injection Attack?
An SQL injection attack is malicious code that is usually injected into data entry fields. While WordPress has gone to great lengths to ensure that the core platform is secured from such attacks, your site may still be vulnerable. Indeed, any part of your site where a person can submit content or data could be susceptible. This can include contact forms, comments sections, and even quizzes.
Once an attacker has breached your site, they can get access to its database and compromise your website with malicious code. For example, in 2016, a group of Russian hackers were able to obtain U.S. voter information (including names, addresses, and even Social Security numbers) through a simple SQL injection attack.
Examples of SQL Injection Attacks
SQL injection attacks can take many forms. Hackers may go after individual websites and blogs, or larger institutions such as banks. In the latter case, once in they could alter account balances or transaction histories. Even after the damage has been repaired, the bank will need to notify its customers, which can be very damaging to its reputation.
For another real-life example of SQL injection attacks in action, one need only look to the gaming industry. As it happens, many SQL injection attacks focus on video games, one of the largest and most profitable industries around.
Most attacks target US-based companies, but other countries, such as Germany and the UK, are a focus for hackers as well. Once inside a game, the attackers can steal money, in-game currency, purchased items, and more, costing the company (and its users) actual money.
10 Steps to Prevent SQL Injection in WordPress
Becoming the victim of a WordPress SQL injection attack can be a scary thought. Fortunately, there are methods you can use to protect yourself and your website now, and ensure that you are as secure as possible. Let’s look at ten of the best steps you can take.
Step 1: Use Input Validation and Filter User Data
One of the easiest ways for hackers to infiltrate your site with an SQL injection attack is through user-submitted data. Therefore, using input validation and filtering for user-submitted data can help to prevent dangerous character injections. Input validation simply requires you to test any data that a user submits, which can then be filtered to prevent an SQL injection.
Step 2: Avoid Dynamic SQL
Dynamic SQL presents a vulnerability due to the way it’s automated. Instead of static SQL, the dynamic form of the language automatically generates and executes statements, creating openings for hackers. So it’s wise to use prepared statements, parameterized queries, or stored procedures to keep your WordPress site safe from an SQL injection attack.
Step 3: Update and Patch Regularly
To keep your database secure, updating and patching regularly are critical. When you don’t have the latest version of WordPress, or if any of your plugins and themes are outdated, you open yourself to security gaps that hackers can exploit. That’s why we manage all patches and updates to core for customers. This includes elements that may be overlooked but can expose your database to an SQL injection.
Step 4: Use a Firewall
One of the most effective techniques to keep your WordPress website safe is to set up a firewall. In effect, a firewall is a network security system that monitors and controls data coming into your site, acting as an additional level of security against SQL injection attacks. That’s why our WordPress security solutions include a firewall, as well as automatic Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) installation and access to the Cloudflare Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Step 5: Remove Unnecessary Database Functionality
The more functionality a database has, the more vulnerable it is to a potential SQL injection attack. To keep it protected, consider normalizing your database to remove extraneous content and make your site safer.
Step 6: Limit Access Privileges
Limiting access privileges is another way of securing your databases against an SQL injection. Inappropriate access privileges can quickly expose your WordPress site to this kind of attack.
To keep your site secure, consider going into your WordPress User Roles and limiting what others can access and alter. For example, you could ensure that all past users have been removed from non-subscriber roles, such as editor or contributor, to eliminate those potential vulnerabilities.
Step 7: Encrypt Confidential Data
No matter how secure your database may seem, you can always make it safer. When you encrypt confidential data in your databases, you’re securing it and protecting that data from an SQL injection.
Unfortunately, hackers can gather a great deal of information via database error messages. This includes details such as authentication credentials, server administrators’ email addresses, and even parts of your internal code.
An effective means of protecting your site is to create generic messages for errors on a custom HTML page. Remember, the less information you reveal, the safer your WordPress site will be.
Step 9: Monitor SQL Statements
When you monitor SQL statements between database-connected applications, you can help to identify vulnerabilities in your WordPress site. While we offer many monitoring tools, you can also use external applications such as Stackify and ManageEngine. Whatever solution you use, it can provide valuable insights into potential database issues.
Step 10: Improve Your Software
In the world of SQL injection attacks and hacking in general, having the most up-to-date systems is key. Doing this can help prevent the ever-evolving techniques used to access websites illegally. With that in mind, preventing a breach is not a one-time task. That’s why we offer real-time threat detection, so you don’t have to worry about attacks.
SQL Injection Plugins for WordPress
Out-of-date software can leave your WordPress site open to SQL injection attacks, but there are security plugins that can protect you. Using one of the following tools can put your mind at ease, and enable you to focus on other, more important aspects of running your WordPress site.
1. Prevent SQL Injections with Sucuri Security
Sucuri Security is a popular tool with a free option available. It enables you to monitor who logs into your site and makes changes, and what those changes are.
Once installed, Sucuri scans your files for malware, offers blacklist monitoring, and provides you with an optional firewall. To add this plugin to your site, you’ll need to download it first by going to Plugins > Add New.
Then you can install and activate it, and go to the plugin’s dashboard to select Generate API Key. That will activate your event monitoring.
This key will be used to authenticate HTTP requests. Then you can relax, knowing that you’ve added another layer of security to your site.
2. Prevent SQL Injections with Wordfence Security
Designed specifically for WordPress, Wordfence Security gives your website another firewall to prevent SQL injections, offers Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), and scans for malware—specifically, WordPress SQL injections.
Downloading and activating the plugin is simple. Head to Plugins > Add New, search for Wordfence Security, and download the plugin.
Once it’s ready, click on Activate. That’s it! It’s now up and running, and you can start scanning for malware whenever you like.
3. Prevent SQL Injections with All In One Security
Finally, you could choose All In One Security (AIOS) as your security plugin. Not only does it provide you with an extra firewall, but it makes it harder for bots to attempt to register as users. This protects your code, and blocks any IP addresses that may be causing too many 404 errors and phishing for information.
To get the plugin, go to Plugins > Add New and download it. Then you can activate and install it.
You can now go through the plugin’s settings and configure your site’s security setup. You can toggle which features you want active, such as “Login Lockdown,” and check to see who is logged in to your site.
Secure Your Site Against SQL Injection Attacks with WP Engine
WP Engine offers secure and reliable WordPress hosting solutions for users and developers, so you can build a safe digital experience for your customers. We provide you with DDoS mitigation, threat detection and blocking, SSL certification, and more.
No matter what plan you choose, WP Engine delivers the features you need to feel secure against SQL injection attacks in WordPress!