So I'm writing a handler that filters a cached DataTable based on the AppRelativeCurrentExecutionFilePath using the DataView RowFilter property. What's the best way to encode the input to prevent an injection attack?

Is the following sufficient? Is there a better/more-elegant way?

dataView.RowFilter = String.Format("Name LIKE '{0}%'", EncodeString(query));

private string EncodeString(string s)
    StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
    for (int i = 0; i < s.Length; i++)
        char c = s[i];
        if (c == '*' || c == '%' || c == '[' || c == ']')
        else if (c == '\'')

    return sb.ToString();
  • i don't think you can inject sql here...only cause an exception. But, yes that is pretty much exactly what I do.
    – dotjoe
    Aug 12, 2009 at 14:12
  • If you're using in-memory data, why use DataTable and not just any collection? You'd be able to filter it with Where and just not bother about injections. Aug 16, 2012 at 20:10
  • @SergRogovtsev - I asked the question in '09 so it was probably a .NET 1.1 app. Enterprises are slow to upgrade. Aug 20, 2012 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


You cannot inject sql in a RowFilter.

Edit: As pointed out, it is possible to get all rows in the table by injection, could something like the following work:

    .Where(r => r.Field<string>("StringColumn").Contains(userInput))
    .ToList().ForEach(r => Console.WriteLine(r.Field<string>("StringColumn")));
  • RowFilter is a string very similar to a SQL Where clause and it is exploitable via injection if you are constructing the filter string from user input. In my example I am filtering a DataTable based on the the URL (e.g site/handler/stringUsedInFilter) and the filter is a LIKE comparison thus anything after "handler/" needs to be sanitized otherwise something like "%25%25%25%25%25" would bypass minimum length and empty string checks to return the entire table contents. "'" would cause the filter to be invalid and throw an exception. etc... Aug 12, 2009 at 14:50
  • Yes in order to not return the full table you would have to guard. Is there ever a case where the entire table is returned or is that something you can guard against? Aug 12, 2009 at 15:06
  • @Yuriy : What if the input they're looking to filter on really is %%%%%? That wouldn't do them much good. What if the input is O'Brien? That would cause an SyntaxErrorException to be thrown. The input needs to be filtered. Aug 12, 2009 at 16:06
  • Time to create a parameterized control inheriting from DataView? Aug 12, 2009 at 17:22

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