Kamal B
October 5, 2012 by
Kamal B

This is an overview of SQLMAP, an SQL injection tool used for detecting and exploiting the SQLI.

What is SQLI?

SQL Injection is a web based attack used by hackers to steal sensitive information from organizations through web applications. It is one of the most common application layer attacks used today. This attack takes advantage of improper coding of web applications, which allows hackers to exploit the vulnerability by injecting SQL commands into the prior web application.

What should you learn next?

What should you learn next?

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The underlying fact that allows for SQL Injection is that the fields available for user input in the web application allow SQL statements to pass through and interact with or query the database directly.

For example, let us consider a web application that implements a form-based login mechanism to store the user credentials and performs a simple SQL query to validate each login attempt. Here is a typical example:

select * from users where username='admin' and password='admin123';

If the attacker knows the username of the application administrator is admin, he can login as admin without supplying any password.


The query in the back-end looks like:

Select * from users where username='admin'--' and password='xxx';

Note the comment sequence (--) causes the followed query to be ignored, so query executed is equivalent to:

Select * from users where username='admin';

So password check is bypassed.

What is SQLMAP?

SQLMAP is an open source penetration testing tool that helps in automating the process of detecting and exploiting SQL injection vulnerabilities and taking full access over the database servers. SQLMAP comes with a powerful detecting engine, along with many niche features for the penetration tester and a wide range of switches lasting from database fingerprinting, data fetching from the database, accessing the underlying file system, and executing the commands on Operating System via out-of-band Connections.

Since SQLMAP is developed in Python it is a portable application, meaning that it will work in any operating system that supports Python.

What is SQLMAP burp plug-in?

When we audit a web application, we normally configure an intermediate proxy to have more control over the request and response parameters.

SQLMAP plug-in is an add-on feature that we can configure to the burp through which we can redirect a URL or a request directly to the SQLMAP with a single mouse click.

How to download the plug-inYou can download the zip file from the following URL:


Unzip the file and keep it in the same folder where burp proxy is located.

Then execute the following command to run the burp with plug-in.

  1. LINUX:

  2. Java –classpath burpplugins.jar:"burpsuite_v1.4.0.1.jar" burp.StartBurp

    1. Windows:

    2. Java –classpath burpsuite_v1.4.0.1.jar,burpplugins.jar burp.StartBurp

      Replace the burpsuite with the appropriate version that you are using. In my case I am using burpsuite_v1.4.0.1.jar

      You need to download the SQLMAP as you need to give the executable to the plug-in.

      1. Setting up SQLMAP:

        1. On Windows:

      1. On Debian or Ubuntu

        1. Setting up the environment

        • If you are using OWASP broken web application, then simply access one of the vulnerable sites from your local browser where you are running SQLMAP.
        • If you don't use OWASP broken web application, then you need to set up a virtual machine that has a web server to host the vulnerable web application.
        • Configure another VM with Ubuntu where the attacker runs SQLMAP.
        1. Configuring the Proxy

        • If you are using Mozilla Firefox, then go to Edit > Preferences > Advanced > Network > Settings and select "Manual Proxy Configuration" by enabling the radio button. Run the HTTP proxy with local-host and the port in which the proxy is running.
        • If you are using Chrome, then go-to Settings > Show Advanced Options > Network > Change Proxy Settings > Connections > LAN Settings.
        1. How to use the plug-in

        Once you load the plug-in, then it is very easy to make use of it. Run the burp proxy with the loaded plug-in. In the "site map" tab under the "target" you can see the particular domain that you are trying to test for SQLI and all the crawled pages related to the domain.

        On the right side click on the URL that you want to test, you can see the request parameters of the URL in the bottom panel. Right click on the request parameters and you can see the option "Send to sqlmap" as shown in the figure (I).


        Then you can see a new window (SQLMap wrapper) that will allow you to configure sqlmap. The below image gives you a clear view of the wrapper. Let's observe figure (II):

        Figure (II)

        Now let us have an overview of the configuration features of the wrapper. In the "Target" textbox specify the URL that you are willing to test. (Normally it will be filled by default as you have sent the request parameters previously, if needed you can change the URL).

        Specify the method on which the domain is accessible (GET/POST). In the "Bin-path" give sqlmap executable.

        If you are aware of the DBMS of the web application, specify the database by selecting one of the options listed in the dropdown list. By default "auto" is selected which means that the SQLMAP wrapper tries with all the databases listed in the dropdown list to find out the database used by the application.

        You can enumerate the database users, passwords, roles, privileges, databases, etc. by selecting the appropriate option from the Action dropdown list. By default it is set to "auto" which means it will try to enumerate all the options listed in the dropdown list in sequential order.

        If you are aware of the databases, users, tables, or columns, you can enumerate it by simply specifying it in the Database options.

        Tampers are a kind of special characters or symbols that you are willing to insert into the query while pen-testing the application.

        Once you configure the SQLMAP, click on "RUN", this will open a new tab with execution of the program with the configuration that you have given to the wrapper or the SQLMAP. We can make any number of simultaneous execution tabs with different instances.

        The below image shows the output tab. Let's observe figure (III):

        Figure (III)

        Bored with theory, now let us see an example. The below URL is a vulnerable site for practicing the SQLI. You can also find the SQLI practice URLs by Googling.

        The id parameter in the above URL is vulnerable to SQLI; let us find it out through our SQLMAP wrapper (Burp suite plug-in).

        Open the URL in the browser for which the proxy has been configured. In the proxy (burp) go to the "site map" and click on the URL and send it to the sqlmap by right clicking on the response parameters of the website, as I mentioned previously. Figure (IV) shows you the wrapper opened for the above mentioned URL.

        Figure (IV)

        The target specifies the URL we are testing, the cookie specifies the cookie or session ID. The wrapper automatically identifies the positions in the URL where SQLI can be injected and specifies a list of the parameters in the "Parameters to test" text area (in our case we have only one possibility for injection which is "id" parameter).

        In this example I have configured the SQLMAP wrapper to enumerate the list of databases that are configured in the backend database.

        Figure (V)

        Figure (V) shows you the output tab which displays how the plug-in tried to exploit the SQLI vulnerability in different ways.

        We can see that initially the wrapper tried to exploit the vulnerability by using "Boolean-based blind SQLI" AND by using the operator. The payload shows how the tool tried to exploit the vulnerability. Here we can see the payload: id=22 AND 4626=4626, which is equivalent to the following URL: AND 4626=4626

        As the URL is always true, the above URL returns the same page as of the original URL.

        In the second trail it tried "error-based SQLI", and later by using UNION operator.

        Figure (VI)

        From the figure (VI) we can observe more server details like web server, Operating System, and back-end DBMS.

        "Information_schema" and "nilakantatrust" are the two databases that are used by the web application.

        Now let us try to enumerate all the tables and the columns of the tables from the above databases. To do so configure the SQLMAP wrapper Action field with the option "Enumerate database tables and columns". Figure (VII) shows you the same.

        Figure (VII)

        Figure (VIII) shows us the tables of the database "nilakantatrust".

        Figure (VIII)

        Let us see the columns of these tables. Figure (IX) shows the columns and their data types of two tables "est_notice" and "est_news" of the nilakantatrust database.

        Figure (IX)

        We can also dump the complete database by selecting the option "dump dbms databases". And also store complete data into a file by using the option "save to file" in the output tab.

        Figure (X)

        Figure (X) shows the dumped data of the table "est_admin" from "nilakantatrust" database and storing it into a file.

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        SQLMAP is a powerful tool which is used to automate the process of detecting and exploiting the SQLI.

        Kamal B
        Kamal B

        Kamal B is an Information Security Professional with experience in penetration testing of web applications. Currently a researcher with InfoSec Institute, his blog is located at - http://www.securitybasics.wordpress.com