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Microsoft Advisory Targets SQL Injection Attacks

Microsoft on Tuesday issued a new security advisory after the discovery of "a recent escalation in a class of attacks" targeting Web sites.

Microsoft on Tuesday issued a new security advisory after the discovery of "a recent escalation in a class of attacks" targeting Web sites. The exploits are associated with Microsoft's Active Server Pages (ASP) and the ASP.NET 2.0 Framework, with SQL Server used as an entry vector for so-called SQL injection attacks.

ASP lets developers create dynamic Web pages, supporting interactive browser-based applications and e-commerce by connecting with a relational database (such as SQL Server) on the back end.

Even though Microsoft's technologies are used in the attacks, the fault lies with Web site developers that haven't followed the best practices for security, according to Redmond.

"[The attacks] do not exploit a specific software vulnerability, but instead, target Web sites that do not follow secure coding practices for accessing and manipulating data stored in a relational database," wrote Bill Sisk, security response communications manager for Microsoft in an e-mail to Redmondmag.com on Tuesday.

Microsoft's advisory describes three tools that can help protect individual Web sites from SQL injection attacks, according to Sisk. You can also find links to these tools at Microsoft's data platform blog here. According to Redmond, the free and downloadable tools come with detection and defense features.

SQL injection attacks are becoming increasingly common. In April, security consultancy White Hat identified isolated cases of SQL-based Web sites injected with malicious JavaScript code. Perhaps the worst of it was seen January, when a widespread barrage of SQL injection attacks occurred. At that time, tens of thousands of Windows- and SQL-based workstations were affected, as well as several thousand Web sites with .gov and .edu domain suffixes. Many of the problems were remedied before serious damage could be done.

About the Author

Jabulani Leffall is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others.

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