Using SQLmap can be tricky when you are not familiar with it. This SQLmap tutorial aims to present the most important functionalities of this popular SQL injection tool quickly and simply. Before using SQLmap you must first get the latest release of the tool and install a Python interpreter. Most Linux distributions have python installed by default. If it’s not the case or if you are not using Linux, you will need to download and install python. Finally, you will need a vulnerable website to test. In this tutorial, we are using our simulation environment (hosted on the local machine and available on port 8888).

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 comes with a powerful detection engine, many niche features for the ultimate penetration tester and a broad range of switches lasting from database fingerprinting, over data fetching from the database, to accessing the underlying file system and executing commands on the operating system via out-of-band connections.


First, if SQLmap is not yet installed on your machine, you can visit the official website for checking out the latest version and download the tool. One thing to keep in mind is that SQLmap is a Python-based tool, this means it will require Python to be installed on your machine. To get started with SQLmap it is a matter of downloading the tool, unpacking it and running the command with the necessary options.

If you are running Microsoft Windows as your main operating system you will likely find it the most convenient and simple to run an install Parrot Security or Kali Linux in a virtual machine. You can then play with SQLmap, Nmap, and Nikto along with a hundred other powerful open-source security tools.

  • Full support for MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, IBM DB2, SQLite, Firebird, Sybase, SAP MaxDB, HSQLDB and Informix database management systems.
  • Full support for six SQL injection techniques: boolean-based blind, time-based blind, error-based, UNION query-based, stacked queries and out-of-band.
  • Support to directly connect to the database without passing via a SQL injection, by providing DBMS credentials, IP address, port, and database name.
  • Support to enumerate users, password hashes, privileges, roles, databases, tables, and columns.
  • Automatic recognition of password hash formats and support for cracking them using a dictionary-based attack.
  • Support to dump database tables entirely, a range of entries or specific columns as per user's choice. The user can also choose to dump only a range of characters from each column's entry.
  • Support to search for specific database names, specific tables across all databases or specific columns across all databases' tables. This is useful, for instance, to identify tables containing custom application credentials where relevant columns' names contain string like name and pass.
  • Support to download and upload any file from the database server underlying file system when the database software is MySQL, PostgreSQL or Microsoft SQL Server.
  • Support to execute arbitrary commands and retrieve their standard output on the database server underlying operating system when the database software is MySQL, PostgreSQL or Microsoft SQL Server.
  • Support to establish an out-of-band stateful TCP connection between the attacker machine and the database server underlying operating system. This channel can be an interactive command prompt, a Meterpreter session or a graphical user interface (VNC) session as per user's choice.
  • Support for database process' user privilege escalation via Metasploit's Meterpreter "getsystem" command.


Step 1: Get a Linux based Operating System

If you are going to run SQLmap on Windows with Python, make sure you have Python installed and skip down to the next step, otherwise get your Linux system fired up. Either install a Linux virtual machine (Ubuntu or Kali recommended) on Windows (Virtualbox / VMware / Parallels) or boot up your Linux desktop.

Step 2: SQLmap Installation

Python is pre-installed in Ubuntu so all you need to do is download SQLmap from Sourceforge, unpack it into a directory and start your testing.

Otherwise, if you have git already installed you can grab the latest copy with the below command. You can also directly download the latest ZIP from SQLmap’s official website.

git clone --depth 1 sqlmap
cd sqlmap



If you do not see something like the output above, make sure python is working using "python -V" to check the version and if you are in the right location. Now let’s move on this was the easy part.

To get a full list of the options available run "python -h".


Simple HTTP GET based test

In this simple test, we will use a standard HTTP GET based request against a URI with a parameter (?id=5). This will test different SQL injection methods against the id parameter.

python -u ''

In the results, we can see the different methods used against the parameter.


Retrieve the Database Tables

SQLmap can be used to not only test but also to exploit SQL Injection, doing things such as extracting data from databases, updating tables and even popping shells on remote hosts if all the ducks are in line.

Let’s retrieve the tables from the database using the SQL Injection vulnerability we confirmed above. As you will see in the output below we can continue testing against the target without having to retest the vulnerability. SQLmap uses the information it knows about the site to further exploit the target database. To retrieve data we simply add a parameter to the previous command. By adding "--tables" we can attempt to retrieve all the tables.

python -u '' --tables


Dump the data

To get data we simply extend our command. Adding "-T user" will focus on the "user" table where we might be able to get some credentials. Adding "--dump" will tell SQLmap to grab all the data from the "user" table, first the columns will be enumerated and then the data will be dumped from the columns.

python -u '' --columns -D DATABASE-NAME -T TABLE-NAME --dump



Verbose Output

When testing for SQL Injection it is often necessary to dig into the requests manually to determine problems with the test or to confirm or even further exploit a discovered injection. Being able to increase the verbosity of your SQLmap output will help with this testing.

By increasing the verbosity to 4 you can get the HTTP requests, with 5 you also see the HTTP response headers and 6 will show the full HTTP response. This can get super noisy but sometimes you need to see what is happening.

Got Database Credentials

This handy tip allows you to connect to the database directly and dump data such as users, databases or tables. The nice thing about this is you don't have to remember the SQL syntax for the database or have a client installed. SQLmap will do the heavy lifting acting as a Database Client to dump data.

DB Connection strings

MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL.


SQLite, Microsoft Access


Popping Shells and More

SQLmap has a large number of options and is an amazing tool for becoming one with a database. Apart from popping shells on the target host, you can send requests through tor, find injections in page responses automatically, spider sites and of course perform HTTP POST based testing. These examples just scratch the surface more examples are available on the excellent GitHub wiki page.