A03:2021 – Injection
|CWEs Mapped||Max Incidence Rate||Avg Incidence Rate||Avg Weighted Exploit||Avg Weighted Impact||Max Coverage||Avg Coverage||Total Occurrences||Total CVEs|
Injection slides down to the third position. 94% of the applications were tested for some form of injection with a max incidence rate of 19%, an average incidence rate of 3%, and 274k occurances. Notable Common Weakness Enumerations (CWEs) included are CWE-79: Cross-site Scripting, CWE-89: SQL Injection, and CWE-73: External Control of File Name or Path.
An application is vulnerable to attack when:
User-supplied data is not validated, filtered, or sanitized by the application.
Dynamic queries or non-parameterized calls without context-aware escaping are used directly in the interpreter.
Hostile data is used within object-relational mapping (ORM) search parameters to extract additional, sensitive records.
Hostile data is directly used or concatenated. The SQL or command contains the structure and malicious data in dynamic queries, commands, or stored procedures.
Some of the more common injections are SQL, NoSQL, OS command, Object Relational Mapping (ORM), LDAP, and Expression Language (EL) or Object Graph Navigation Library (OGNL) injection. The concept is identical among all interpreters. Source code review is the best method of detecting if applications are vulnerable to injections. Automated testing of all parameters, headers, URL, cookies, JSON, SOAP, and XML data inputs is strongly encouraged. Organizations can include static (SAST), dynamic (DAST), and interactive (IAST) application security testing tools into the CI/CD pipeline to identify introduced injection flaws before production deployment.
How to Prevent
Preventing injection requires keeping data separate from commands and queries:
The preferred option is to use a safe API, which avoids using the interpreter entirely, provides a parameterized interface, or migrates to Object Relational Mapping Tools (ORMs).
Note: Even when parameterized, stored procedures can still introduce SQL injection if PL/SQL or T-SQL concatenates queries and data or executes hostile data with EXECUTE IMMEDIATE or exec().
Use positive or "whitelist" server-side input validation. This is not a complete defense as many applications require special characters, such as text areas or APIs for mobile applications.
For any residual dynamic queries, escape special characters using the specific escape syntax for that interpreter.
Note: SQL structures such as table names, column names, and so on cannot be escaped, and thus user-supplied structure names are dangerous. This is a common issue in report-writing software.
Use LIMIT and other SQL controls within queries to prevent mass disclosure of records in case of SQL injection.
Example Attack Scenarios
Scenario #1: An application uses untrusted data in the construction of the following vulnerable SQL call:
String query = "SELECT \* FROM accounts WHERE custID='" + request.getParameter("id") + "'";
Scenario #2: Similarly, an application’s blind trust in frameworks may result in queries that are still vulnerable, (e.g., Hibernate Query Language (HQL)):
Query HQLQuery = session.createQuery("FROM accounts WHERE custID='" + request.getParameter("id") + "'");
In both cases, the attacker modifies the ‘id’ parameter value in their browser to send: ‘ or ‘1’=’1. For example:
http://example.com/app/accountView?id=' or '1'='1
This changes the meaning of both queries to return all the records from the accounts table. More dangerous attacks could modify or delete data or even invoke stored procedures.
List of Mapped CWEs
[CWE-917 Improper Neutralization of Special Elements used in an Expression Language Statement ('Expression Language Injection')] (https://cwe.mitre.org/data/definitions/917.html)