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A group of academics has demonstrated novel attacks that leverage Text-to-SQL models to produce malicious code that could enable adversaries to glean sensitive information and stage denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

“To better interact with users, a wide range of database applications employ AI techniques that can translate human questions into SQL queries (namely Text-to-SQL),” Xutan Peng, a researcher at the University of Sheffield, told The Hacker News.

“We found that by asking some specially designed questions, crackers can fool Text-to-SQL models to produce malicious code. As such code is automatically executed on the database, the consequence can be pretty severe (e.g., data breaches and DoS attacks).”

The findings, which were validated against two commercial solutions BAIDU-UNIT and AI2sql, mark the first empirical instance where natural language processing (NLP) models have been exploited as an attack vector in the wild.

The black box attacks are analogous to SQL injection faults wherein embedding a rogue payload in the input question gets copied to the constructed SQL query, leading to unexpected results.

images from Hacker News