Prepared SQL statements in VB.NET

Thousands of websites have been hit lately by the rash of SQL injections being perpetrated en-masse. Most languages (current versions, at least) have a procedure for separating parameters from the query they augment in an effort to prevent SQL injection, and VB.NET is no different.

Assuming you have stored the connection string for your SqlConnection object in a ConnectionString key called databaseReader, the following code will build and execute a prepared statement that will resist SQL injection techniques:

VB.NET 3.5 code:

Dim conn As SqlConnection ' Connection to SQL database server
Dim cmd As SqlCommand ' Command object to build + execute prepared statement
Dim dr As SqlDataReader ' Data reader object to retrieve query results

    ' Connect to database using ConnectionStrings key
    conn = New SqlConnection(ConfigurationManager.ConnectionStrings("databaseReader").ConnectionString)
    ' Construct command object with parameterized query string
    cmd = New SqlCommand("select Name from Locations where Code = @code and Active = 1", conn)
    ' Add parameter and associated value to the command object
    cmd.Parameters.AddWithValue("@code", Request.QueryString("code"))
    ' Open the database connection and execute the command object's prepared statement
    ' The result set is aggregated into the DataReader object
    dr = cmd.ExecuteReader()

    ' Read the first result and display the value
    If (dr.Read()) Then
        Response.Write(dr("Name") + "<br />")
        Response.Write("Query returned empty result set.<br />")
    End If
Catch ex As Exception
    ' Handle exceptions that have been raised during query instantiation/execution
    Response.Write("An error has occurred.<br />")
End Try

The Request.QueryString(“code”) variable can contain SQL injection attempts, but the prepared statement does not consider the parameter @code to be a part of the query–rather, it is considered just what it should be: a parameter. If @code was assigned the value “1 OR 1=1; –“, the query would not return the first value from the database table being queried as it would under the deprecated, old-fashioned methodology of including the text directly in a query string. Instead, it will try to search for a record that literally matches “1 OR 1=1; –“, which it won’t find (unless, of course, there is a column with this value for some strange reason).

P.S. – If you’re going to be doing a lot of code beyond this point that does not require the SqlConnection object, you should .Close() it.

P.P.S. – For those of you who are confused, “1 OR 1=1; –“, when supplanted into the query statement, would render the query thus: “select Name from Locations where Code = 1 OR 1=1; — and Active = 1”. Since 1 is always equal to 1, and the “and Active = 1” portion of the query has been removed using SQL commenting syntax (–), the query will select the Name column from every row in the database table that is being queried. Not good. Not necessarily malicious, either, but it is a rather timid example of SQL injection techniques. Trust me, they get much, much worse.