Microsoft goes on defensive in massive SQL injection attacks

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Microsoft has gone on the defensive in the massive SQL injection attack that has hit websites running the company's Internet Information Services (IIS) web server and SQL Server products.

"Our investigation has shown that there are no new or unknown vulnerabilities being exploited," Bill Sisk, a communications manager at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post available here. "This wave is not a result of a vulnerability in Internet Information Services or Microsoft SQL Server."

Rather, "The attacks are facilitated by SQL injection exploits and are not issues related to IIS 6.0, ASP, ASP.Net or Microsoft SQL technologies," he wrote. "SQL injection attacks enable malicious users to execute commands in an application's database."

Developers should follow "industry best practices" in writing secure code to avoid SQL injection attacks, he added.

The massive SQL injection attacks have affected more than 500,000 websites, according to security vendor F-Secure. The websites are infected with injected JavaScript that tries to exploit several known vulnerabilities in IIS and SQL Server.

U.S. CERT has recommended that websites disable JavaScript and ActiveX controls.

SQL injection attacks involve code submitted to SQL databases through user input mechanisms that has not been sufficiently "sanitized," said Patrick Runald, a security researcher at anti-malware vendor F-Secure. Runald wrote in a blog posting available here. The attack "finds all text fields in the database and adds a link to malicious JavaScript to each and every one of them which will make your Web site display them automatically.

"Essentially what happened was that the attackers looked for ASP or ASPX [.net] pages containing any type of querystring (a dynamic value such as an article ID, product ID, et cetera) parameter and tried to use that to upload their SQL injection code," Runald added.

Agreeing with Microsoft, Runald wrote that "poorly written ASP and ASPX (.net) code" is what makes the SQL injection attacks possible. He urged website managers to make sure the data they pass to their databases is "sanitized" and to ensure their systems are patched.

A podcast with Ryan Sherstobitoff, chief corporate evangelist at Panda Security, providing more information on the SQL injection attacks, is available on the web site.

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