SAP SQL Injections

This series of articles will continue our EAS-SEC Guide for secure development that is aimed to unveil all the most important types of vulnerabilities in ABAP applications. At first, we would like to shed a light on SAP SQL injections.

At the moment, SQL injection is one of the most common injection vulnerability in general and in ABAP as well.

SAP Vulnerability lists for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and OWASP Top 10
Comparison of SAP vulnerability lists for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, and the OWASP Top 10

It consists of the insertion of malicious SQL query crafted by an attacker into an entry field of an application. Via SQL injection, an attacker can affect database in different ways: to read sensitive data, modify content or even shutdown the database.

In ABAP, there are several statements where SQL injection can occur:

  • Open SQL injections in SQL Statements (read more below)
  • Injections in System functions
  • ADBC injections
  • AMDP injections

Open SQL Injections

As the name implies, SQL injections can occur in Open SQL statements: SELECT, WHERE, FROM UPDATE, DELETE, and INSERT.

Here is an example of a potentially dangerous piece of code:

In this example, in WHERE statement a user-controlled parameter input is used. If an attacker is able to define data reading criteria, he or she will be able to get access to critical data.

An attacker can pass the string ‘anything’ OR ‘1’=’1’ to variable input. As a result, the SQL statement will look as follows:

As ‘1’=’1′ is always true, all records from the database will be shown. Besides, an attacker can use UNION statement to combine two different SQL requests and get data from other tables.

Injections in System functions

Another dangerous constructions are related to system functions “C_DB_EXECUTE” and “C_DB_FUNCTION”. These functions are used to call for database commands directly:

The field ‘STATTXT‘ contains an SQL statement. Variable STMT is declared as a parameter and transmitted to this field. Therefore, an attacker can pass a specially crafted SQL statement to the variable STMT and reach the malicious goals by executing it.

Methods “EXECUTE_UPDATE”, “EXECUTE_DDL” and “EXECUTE_QUERY” of “CL_SQL_STATEMENT” class also can be sources of SQL injections:

By exploiting an SQL injection vulnerability, an attacker can get access to business-critical information or system data. Moreover, a denial of service attack can be performed by executing a complicated SQL statement. For example, a perpetrator can pass query, which will search for a certain pattern through all the records in the database (via LIKE statement). This query will take a long time to run and, at the same time, will significantly increase a server load, thus blocking an access to the application for legitimate users.

SAP ADBC Injections

There is also a risk of an SQL injection when ABAP Database Connectivity (ADBC) is used. SQL statements are passed as strings to the objects of ADBC class and then to the database system. An attack is possible if all parts of one of these SQL statements originate from outside of the program to the following methods:

  • create_query;
  • get_persistent_by_query;
  • execute_query;
  • execute_update;
  • execute_ddl;
  • execute_procedure.


The variable ‘key’ passes from a request to method ‘execute_query’ without validation. An attack example is similar to one described in the Open SQL injection section.

SAP AMDP Injections

With new power comes new responsibility; thus, when working with the most powerful database namely SAP HANA, you have to pay close attention to its security.

When ABAP Managed Database Procedures (AMDP) is used, database procedures are created and called that are currently implemented in SQLScript for the SAP HANA database. Risks are incurred whenever a database procedure contains dynamic parts.


This method uses the SQLScript statement EXEC in the SAP HANA database to execute an SQL specified as a character string into which the input parameter seats is merged. In this example, the value in the SEATSOCC column is increased by the value of parameter seats which is passed unchecked. An attacker can send string “2, seatsmax = seatsmax + 10” to this parameter and change the value in SEATMAX column as well. A method like this should be classified as a potential risk, since the input parameter is not checked. If possible, an input check should be implemented in SQLScript directly before the statement EXEC is executed.

SAP SQL Injection protection

To protect an ABAP code from SQL injections, primarily, you need to make sure that dynamically generated statements are necessary in your code (actually, this applies to all injections). In some cases, you can transform program so they will not be required. For example, use the listing of tables (FROM … table1 … tableN …) instead of the table catalog (FROM …(tablecatalog)…).

If it is not possible, filter user input via special methods QUOTE_STR and QUOTE of CL_ABAP_DYN_PRG class. In ABAP, strings are usually enclosed with backticks (‘) and char arrays are usually enclosed in single quotation marks (‘). Use different methods of CL_ABAP_DYN_PRG depending on the type of enclosing symbol: use QUOTE_STR with backticks and QUOTE with single quotation marks.


Note: CL_ABAP_DYN_PRG=>ESCAPE_QUOTES_STR and CL_ABAP_DYN_PRG=>ESCAPE_QUOTES methods can also be used to filter data, but they provide less security.

In terms of ADBC, the values transmitted to the database can be parameterized to avoid an SQL injection. To specify parameters, it is necessary to use the character “?” (placeholder). Before SQL expression execution, all parameters must be filled. Filling of parameters is carried out through the SET_PARAM method with specifying of the link to a variable. At the same time, by default, filling of parameters happens in turn, from left to right in the SQL expression. After SQL expression execution, all assignments of parameters are lost.

That’s all for today, and we hope the article clarified all questions you wanted to learn about SAP SQL injections. Stay tuned since in the next post, we’ll consider the OS command injection.

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