sqlmap is an open source penetration testing tool that automates the process of detecting and exploiting SQL injection flaws and taking over of database servers.

It provides an efficient detection injection as well many features ranging from fetching data from the database to accessing the underlying file system and executing commands on the operating system.

sqlmap currently supports the following database management systems:

  • MySQL

  • Oracle

  • PostgreSQL

  • Microsoft SQL Server

  • Microsoft Access

  • IBM DB2

  • SQLite

  • Firebird

  • Sybase

  • SAP MaxDB


  • Informix

For a more, and very, detailed usage guide of sqlmap, refer to the official documentation: https://github.com/sqlmapproject/sqlmap/wiki/Usage.

General options

Target specification

sqlmap offers multiples ways to specify one or multiples targets:

  • using an URL with the -u <URL> option ;

  • from an HTTP request file using the -r <REQUEST_FILE> option, which can be helpful for authenticated requests using multiples session cookies ;

  • using a direct connection string to the database with the -d <CONNECTION_STRING> option, which can be helpful to make use of sqlmap file system, command injections and passwords retriving queries ;

  • from a Burp or WebScarab proxy log file using the -l <LOG_FILE> option, which can be used to conduct an automated testing on all requests made after spidering and mapping the targeted web application.

One or multiples injection points can be specified in the URL or request file by appending an * (asterix) to a parameter value. The * should not replace the parameter value, as a valid value helps sqlmap in detecting the injection technique to use.


Option: --technique=<TECH>.

sqlmap supports the following techniques:

  • B: Boolean-based blind

  • E: Error-based

  • U: Union query-based

  • S: Stacked queries

  • T: Time-based blind

  • Q: Inline queries

By default sqlmap tests for all types/techniques it supports, i.e: BEUSTQ. To specify one or more techniques, the --technique option can be used:

--technique=<B | E | U | S | T | Q | BE | ...>

Level and risk

Option: --level=<1 - 5>.

The level defines the depth of tests to perform, ranging from level=1, very limited number of requests performed, to level=5, corresponding to a much larger number of payloads and boundaries tested. The level also influence the injections points tested:

  • GET and POST parameters are always tested ;

  • HTTP Cookie header values are tested from level=2 ;

  • HTTP User-Agent / Referer headers' value is tested from level=3.

The default value is level=1. It is recommended to start with a level=1 test, to quickly iterate over all injection techniques and then conduct a level=5 testing if no injections were yet detected.

Option: --risk=<1 - 3>.

The risk defines the presumed risk of the payloads to use, ranging from risk=1, innocuous for the majority of SQL injection points, to risk=3, adding OR-based SQL injection tests which could lead to update of entries of the database if the SQL injection is in an UPDATE or DELETE statement.

The risk=3 option should not be used against production databases, especially if the injected query is presumed to modify the data of the database.

Tamper injection data

Option: --tamper="<TAMPER_SCRIPTS>".

Note that sqlmap integrates an IPS / WAF detection mechanism, which can be launched using the --identify-waf switch option.

sqlmap provides a way to tamper the payloads to bypass input validation mechanism such as an IPS appliance or a web application firewall (WAF). The option takes as parameter a comma-separated list of tamper scripts to use, for example --tamper=between,charencode,charunicodeencode.

On a Linux default installation, the tamper scripts packaged with sqlmap can be found in /usr/share/sqlmap/tamper/.

To start sqlmap with all the packaged tamper scripts, the following commands can be used:

# General tampering



Estimated time of arrival (ETA)

Switch: --eta.

sqlmap provides an option to calculate and show in real time the estimated time of arrival to retrieve each query output.

Databases dumping

Once identified, the DBMS can be specified with the --dbms=<DBMS> option.

Users, passwords and privileges

sqlmap includes queries to retrieve users, users' password and users' privileges from known DBMS databases and tables:



Retrieve DBMS current user


Retrieve DBMS current database


Retrieve DBMS server hostname


Detect if the DBMS current user is DBA


Enumerate DBMS users


Enumerate DBMS users password hashes


Enumerate DBMS users privileges


Enumerate DBMS users roles

Databases, tables, columns and data

The following options can be used to dump one or multiples databases content:



Enumerate DBMS databases


Enumerate DBMS database tables


Enumerate DBMS database table columns


Enumerate DBMS schema


Retrieve number of entries for table(s)


Dump DBMS database table entries


Dump all DBMS databases tables entries

-D <DB>

DBMS database to enumerate

-T <TBL>

DBMS database table(s) to enumerate

-C <COL>

DBMS database table column(s) to enumerate


DBMS database identifier(s) to not enumerate


Exclude DBMS system databases when enumerating tables (master, msdb, model, etc.)


Use WHERE condition while table dumping


First dump table entry to retrieve


Last dump table entry to retrieve

For instance, the following sqlmap commands can be used to enumerate the databases content and retrieve data:

# Retrieve all tables in all databases, excluding the DBMS system databases
sqlmap --eta --tables --exclude-sysdbs [...]

# Retrieve the Nth first rows of each tables in the DB database
sqlmap --eta --dump -D <DB> --stop=<LIMIT_STOP> [...]

# Retrieve everything except for the DBMS system databases content
sqlmap --eta --dump-all --exclude-sysdbs [...]

Search keyword(s) in databases, tables or columns names

Switch and options: --search <[ -D <DB_NAME> | -T <TABLE_NAME> | -C <COLUMN_NAME> ]>.

This functionally can be used to identify tables or columns containing sensible information such as application level usernames or passwords.

The --search switch option needs to be used in conjunction with one of the following support options:

  • -C following a list of comma-separated column names to look for across the whole database management system.

  • -T following a list of comma-separated table names to look for across the whole database management system.

  • -D following a list of comma-separated database names to look for across the database management system

For example:

# Search in the database DB for columns containing the password keyword  
sqlmap --search -D <DB> -C "password" [...]
do you want sqlmap to consider provided column(s):
[1] as LIKE column names (default)
[2] as exact column names

Direct SQL query

Option: --sql-query <QUERY>

Switch: --sql-shell sqlmap also provides an option to directly run arbitrary SQL query, automatically dissecting the provided statement, determining which technique is appropriate to use to inject it and how to pack the SQL payload accordingly.

In case of a non SELECT statement, sqlmap will execute the query through the stacked query SQL injection technique S if stacked queries are supported through the injection point.

The --sql-query option can be used to run the specified SQL statement while the --sql-shell switch option will start an interactive SQL console connected to the database management system.

OS access

File system access

If the DBMS is either MySQL, PostgreSQL or Microsoft SQL Server, an SQL injection can be leveraged to retrieve or upload files from / on the underlying file system. The DBMS user session used to make the SQL queries needs to have the sufficient privileges needed to use the DBMS specific functionalities.



Read a file from the back-end DBMS file system


Write a local file on the back-end DBMS file system


Back-end DBMS absolute filepath to write to

The --file-write and --file-dest options must be used simultaneously to specify the local file to upload and its destination path on the target system.

Note that, if the account responsible of the DBMS service has sufficient privileges on the file system, an SQL injection could be used to upload a webshell in an accessible website folder to achieve remote commands execution. The website folder can either be guessed through a brute force attack or leaked by verbose error messages on the web application.

Commands execution

Option and switch: --os-cmd <COMMAND> and --os-shell.

An SQL injection can be leveraged to remotely execute commands on the underlying operating system, given:

  • the DBMS is either MySQL, PostgreSQL or Microsoft SQL Server ;

  • the current DBMS user session has sufficient privileges to use the DBMS specific functionalities.

On MySQL and PostgreSQL, sqlmap uploads a shared library containing two user-defined functions, sys_exec() and sys_eval(), then it creates these two functions on the database and calls one of them to execute the specified command, depending on user's choice to display the standard output or not. On Microsoft SQL Server, sqlmap abuses the xp_cmdshell stored procedure: if it is disabled (by default on Microsoft SQL Server >= 2005), sqlmap re-enables it if possible; if it does not exist, sqlmap creates it from scratch.

The --os-cmd option can be used to run the specified command while the --os-shell switch option will start an interactive command prompt.

Windows registry access

Switches: --reg-read, --reg-add and --reg-del. Auxiliary options: --reg-key, --reg-value, --reg-data and --reg-type.

An SQL injection can be leveraged to access Windows registries if the following conditions are met:

  • the DBMS is either MySQL, PostgreSQL or Microsoft SQL Server ;

  • stacked queries are supported through the injection point ;

  • the current DBMS user session has sufficient privileges to use the DBMS specific functionalities ;

  • the Windows, local or domain, account responsible of the DBMS service has sufficient privileges to access the specified registries.



Windows registry key path


Value item name inside provided key


Item value data


Type of the item value data


https://sqlwiki.netspi.com https://www.slideshare.net/inquis/advanced-sql-injection-to-operating-system-full-control-whitepaper-4633857 https://github.com/sqlmapproject/sqlmap/wiki/Usage https://forum.bugcrowd.com/t/sqlmap-tamper-scripts-sql-injection-and-waf-bypass/423

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