Asked  7 Months ago    Answers:  5   Viewed   28 times

What exactly is going on in the background that makes it so SQLParameter prevents SQL Inection attacks in a .NET Parameterized query? Is it just stripping out any suspect characters or is there something more to it?

Has anyone out there checked to see what actually gets to SQL Server when you pass malicious input?

Related: Can you use a SQLParameter in the SQL FROM statement?



Basically, when you perform a SQLCommand using SQLParameters, the parameters are never inserted directly into the statement. Instead, a system stored procedure called sp_executesql is called and given the SQL string and the array of parameters.

When used as such, the parameters are isolated and treated as data, instead of having to be parsed out of the statement (and thus possibly changing it), so what the parameters contain can never be "executed". You'll just get a big fat error that the parameter value is invalid in some way.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 7 Months ago

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([ '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); // 's' specifies the variable type => 'string'
    $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 (for example, 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=;charset=utf8', 'user', 'password');

$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 (before 5.3.6) silently ignored the charset parameter in the DSN.


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 of 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([ '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
// $dir can only be 'DESC', otherwise it will be 'ASC'
if (empty($dir) || $dir !== 'DESC') {
   $dir = 'ASC';
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
answered 9 Months ago

Using bound parameters is sufficient in common cases, and good practice for avoiding SQL injection.

But a parameter in a prepared statement can be used only for a value in an SQL expression. In other words, where you would normally write a quoted string literal, quoted date literal, or a numeric literal. And one parameter == one value (no lists).

You should use bound parameters for those cases. If you're asking this question because you think you may want to skip using bound parameters if someone answers that they aren't sufficient, then sorry, you're not going to get excused from secure programming practices.

However, there are other (perhaps less common) cases for which bound parameters don't work. If you need to write a query with a dynamic table name, column name, or other identifier, or a whole expression, or an SQL keyword, then you need another method. These cases must be fixed in the SQL syntax at prepare time, so they cannot be parameterized.

For example, here's a query with dynamic parts denoted by use of variables, which cannot be parameters:

$sql = "SELECT * FROM mytable ORDER BY $column_of_users_choice $asc_or_desc";

You should use whitelisting for those cases. In other words, make sure that a string you interpolate into your query as a dynamic table name is actually one of the tables that exists in your database. Make sure that SQL keywords are legitimate keywords.

Never take user input verbatim and interpolate it into SQL (or any other code that is parsed at runtime, like the argument you feed to eval() or shellexec()). And it's not just user input that can be unsafe content.

See also my presentation SQL Injection Myths and Fallacies for more explanation.

Saturday, May 29, 2021
answered 7 Months ago

Breaking Changes to LocalDB: Applies to SQL 2014; take a look over this article and try to use (localdb)mssqllocaldb as server name to connect to the LocalDB automatic instance, for example:

  <add name="ProductsContext" connectionString="Data Source=(localdb)mssqllocaldb; 

The article also mentions the use of 2012 SSMS to connect to the 2014 LocalDB. Which leads me to believe that you might have multiple versions of SQL installed - which leads me to point out this SO answer that suggests changing the default name of your LocalDB "instance" to avoid other version mismatch issues that might arise going forward; mentioned not as source of issue, but to raise awareness of potential clashes that multiple SQL version installed on a single dev machine might lead to ... and something to get in the habit of in order to avoid some.

Another thing worth mentioning - if you've gotten your instance in an unusable state due to tinkering with it to try and fix this problem, then it might be worth starting over - uninstall, reinstall - then try using the mssqllocaldb value instead of v12.0 and see if that corrects your issue.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 7 Months ago

I gathered these useful links:!572204F8C4F8A77A!251.entry

It turns out I'm going to have to use LOGON_NETCREDENTIALS_ONLY with CreateProcessWithLogonW. I'm going to see if I can have the program detect if it has been launched that way and if not, gather the domain credentials and launch itself. That way there will only be one self-managing EXE.

Thursday, June 17, 2021
answered 6 Months ago
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