Category Archives: Databases

A Time-Limited, Single-Use Form Nonce Written In PHP

In three previous posts, I discussed creating a single-use form nonce, a multiple-use form nonce and a time-limited form nonce.

In this post, I’ll describe creating a single-use, time-limited form nonce — that is, a token, unique to each form iteration, which can only be used one time. That will ensure not only that the form was created on our server, but also that it cannot be used a second time, and that the form was submitted in a timely fashion.

I’ll build upon my previous single-use nonce methodology, by adding an additional column to my MySQL table — which stores the time at which the nonce was created — and process the form by comparing that time to the time of the form’s submission.

Why might I want to do this? A clear case would be in ordering a commodity which is scarce, such as a concert ticket. I don’t want to allow the end user to hold a lock on that ticket forever — if he doesn’t order it quickly, I want to make it available to someone else who wants it. And I also don’t want to double-charge him if, for some reason, the form is submitted twice — such as with a refresh of the ordering page.
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Microsoft’s Advice On Avoiding SQL Injection Attacks

Not to kiss my own ass, but Microsoft’s official advice on avoiding SQL injection attacks sounds awfully familiar to readers of this blog:

Sanitize (validate) all inputs: “This helps to ensure that the input is free from characters that cause SQL injection attacks.” It also allows you to fix the form and data type of the user input, which pretty much renders basic script kiddie attacks useless.

Parameters, not strings, as query variables: “Creating dynamic queries using string concatenation potentially allows an attacker to execute an arbitrary query through the application.”

In other words, it’s harder to break this:

@person VARCHAR(20); SELECT * FROM table WHERE person = @person;

than it is to break this:

SELECT * FROM table WHERE person = 'some user string';

Stored procedures, not free-form queries:Stored procedures by themselves do not remove SQL injection vulnerabilities. They only raise the bar on the attacker by hiding much of the underlying database schema.” That is, the attacker can’t easily find out what columns are in a table, or what type of data is in those columns, if you use a stored procedure.

Minimal permissions: “In general, database applications should be using a low-privileged account that has the minimum permissions required to execute the statements submitted to SQL Server.” As in, create a user in your SQL database whose only permission set is to execute your Web-based stored procedures, and connect to the database server as that user.

Those are the basics. And if you don’t understand how to do them, I’ll be putting together a blog series on how to convert your old string-queried Web applications into one secured with stored procedures and proper permissions.

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The Basics Of Avoiding MySQL Injection Attacks In ASP.NET Web Forms

Received in my email today:


say your blog and thought you might help.

strsql = “SELECT StaffID, DesignationID, StaffName, Password, ShopID from staffT where StaffName =” & UserName.Text & ” AND Password =” & Password.Text & “”

from the string, the username.text and password.text are form controls. what is happening is there are passing null values regardless of what you input in the text boxes resulting in a system error.

“System Error Object reference not set to an instance of an object”

Am using Mysql as the database.

I’m always glad to answer such questions, especially when the questioner is flirting with disaster, as much as this questioner is.

A trained eye can immediately spot the problem with the SQL statement above, aside from the problem of NULL values tossing errors. Namely, it’s wide-open to SQL injection. (And an even keener eye will note that the values for user name and password aren’t delimited with single-quotes.)

So here’s my reply email to the questioner:
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Getting All ZIP Codes In A Given Radius From A Known Point / ZIP Code Via ASP.NET

Some time ago I wrote a PHP-MySQL based solution to getting all ZIP Codes in a given radius from a known point / ZIP Code. I’ve long intended to do an ASP.NET version of that post, and here it is.

I won’t bother revisiting the mechanics in detail. I do urge you to read the post on the PHP version of this solution, at least to familiarize yourself with the mechanics of what I am doing and the compromises I’ve taken in coming up with this solution.

I will note the following for the “get to the point” types:

  • The first thing we need is to procure a geocoded database table of ZIP Codes. There are several out there; the one I am using is the ZIP Code Database project, available at Sourceforge. You’ll need to figure out how to get their CSV file into your SQL Server database; BULK INSERT is an option, or you can script it.
  • The basic method I am going to use is to create a square. Specifically, I am going to:
    • ask the end user for a starting ZIP Code, and a radius from that point from which he would like other ZIP Codes to come;
    • create a square by selecting points North, South, East and West at the given distance from the starting point; then
    • query the database for all points that fall within that square (or, in other words, all points with latitudes less than North, greater than South, less than East and greater than West).
  • I’m going to put my results in a GridView. However, you could easily just use a DataReader or DataTable to get the relevant records and do with them as you like.
  • The formulas I am using to compute longitude and latitude coordinates come from

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How To Increment A Counter In MySQL Based On A Radio Button Click

Asked recently on Formspring:

how to increment count in database on clicking radio button

There are a few ways to go about this. I’ll demonstrate two: a traditional, PHP / MySQL only, postback approach, and a jQuery version that uses AJAX to asynchronously record and update the counts.

Just to be clear: In order to complete this solution, we have to use both JavaScript and a server-side scripting language. We use JavaScript to intercept the user clicking the radio button, but process the fact that the button was clicked on the server.

Also, for the purpose of this tutorial, I’ll assume that the radio button involved is part of a group. That is, we have several radio buttons, all with the same name, but different values, e.g.:

<form id="myform" name="myform" method="post">
	<p>Select a color:</p>
	<label id="l_red"><input type="radio" id="r_red" name="color_name" value="red" />Red</label> (<label id="c_red">0</label>) | 
	<label id="l_green"><input type="radio" id="r_green" name="color_name" value="green" />Green</label> (<label id="c_green">0</label>) | 
	<label id="l_blue"><input type="radio" id="r_blue" name="color_name" value="blue" />Blue</label> (<label id="c_blue">0</label>) | 
	<label id="l_black"><input type="radio" id="r_black" name="color_name" value="black" />Black</label> (<label id="c_black">0</label>)

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