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Chapter 6. Security

Table of Contents

6.1. General Security Issues
6.1.1. Security Guidelines
6.1.2. Keeping Passwords Secure
6.1.3. Making MySQL Secure Against Attackers
6.1.4. Security-Related mysqld Options and Variables
6.1.5. How to Run MySQL as a Normal User
6.1.6. Security Issues with LOAD DATA LOCAL
6.1.7. Client Programming Security Guidelines
6.2. The MySQL Access Privilege System
6.2.1. Privileges Provided by MySQL
6.2.2. Privilege System Grant Tables
6.2.3. Specifying Account Names
6.2.4. Access Control, Stage 1: Connection Verification
6.2.5. Access Control, Stage 2: Request Verification
6.2.6. When Privilege Changes Take Effect
6.2.7. Causes of Access-Denied Errors
6.3. MySQL User Account Management
6.3.1. User Names and Passwords
6.3.2. Adding User Accounts
6.3.3. Removing User Accounts
6.3.4. Setting Account Resource Limits
6.3.5. Assigning Account Passwords
6.3.6. Using SSL for Secure Connections
6.3.7. Connecting to MySQL Remotely from Windows with SSH
6.3.8. SQL-Based MySQL Account Activity Auditing

When thinking about security within a MySQL installation, you should consider a wide range of possible topics and how they affect the security of your MySQL server and related applications:

6.1. General Security Issues

This section describes general security issues to be aware of and what you can do to make your MySQL installation more secure against attack or misuse. For information specifically about the access control system that MySQL uses for setting up user accounts and checking database access, see Section 6.2, “The MySQL Access Privilege System”.

For answers to some questions that are often asked about MySQL Server security issues, see Section B.9, “MySQL 5.1 FAQ: Security”.

6.1.1. Security Guidelines

Anyone using MySQL on a computer connected to the Internet should read this section to avoid the most common security mistakes.

In discussing security, it is necessary to consider fully protecting the entire server host (not just the MySQL server) against all types of applicable attacks: eavesdropping, altering, playback, and denial of service. We do not cover all aspects of availability and fault tolerance here.

MySQL uses security based on Access Control Lists (ACLs) for all connections, queries, and other operations that users can attempt to perform. There is also support for SSL-encrypted connections between MySQL clients and servers. Many of the concepts discussed here are not specific to MySQL at all; the same general ideas apply to almost all applications.

When running MySQL, follow these guidelines:

  • Do not ever give anyone (except MySQL root accounts) access to the user table in the mysql database! This is critical.

  • Learn how the MySQL access privilege system works (see Section 6.2, “The MySQL Access Privilege System”). Use the GRANT and REVOKE statements to control access to MySQL. Do not grant more privileges than necessary. Never grant privileges to all hosts.

    Checklist:

    • Try mysql -u root. If you are able to connect successfully to the server without being asked for a password, anyone can connect to your MySQL server as the MySQL root user with full privileges! Review the MySQL installation instructions, paying particular attention to the information about setting a root password. See Section 2.12.2, “Securing the Initial MySQL Accounts”.

    • Use the SHOW GRANTS statement to check which accounts have access to what. Then use the REVOKE statement to remove those privileges that are not necessary.

  • Do not store cleartext passwords in your database. If your computer becomes compromised, the intruder can take the full list of passwords and use them. Instead, use SHA1(), MD5(), or some other one-way hashing function and store the hash value.

  • Do not choose passwords from dictionaries. Special programs exist to break passwords. Even passwords like xfish98 are very bad. Much better is duag98 which contains the same word fish but typed one key to the left on a standard QWERTY keyboard. Another method is to use a password that is taken from the first characters of each word in a sentence (for example, Four score and seven years ago results in a password of Fsasya). The password is easy to remember and type, but difficult to guess for someone who does not know the sentence. In this case, you can additionally substitute digits for the number words to obtain the phrase 4 score and 7 years ago, yielding the password 4sa7ya which is even more difficult to guess.

  • Invest in a firewall. This protects you from at least 50% of all types of exploits in any software. Put MySQL behind the firewall or in a demilitarized zone (DMZ).

    Checklist:

    • Try to scan your ports from the Internet using a tool such as nmap. MySQL uses port 3306 by default. This port should not be accessible from untrusted hosts. As a simple way to check whether your MySQL port is open, try the following command from some remote machine, where server_host is the host name or IP address of the host on which your MySQL server runs:

      shell> telnet server_host 3306
      

      If telnet hangs or the connection is refused, the port is blocked, which is how you want it to be. If you get a connection and some garbage characters, the port is open, and should be closed on your firewall or router, unless you really have a good reason to keep it open.

  • Applications that access MySQL should not trust any data entered by users, and should be written using proper defensive programming techniques. See Section 6.1.7, “Client Programming Security Guidelines”.

  • Do not transmit plain (unencrypted) data over the Internet. This information is accessible to everyone who has the time and ability to intercept it and use it for their own purposes. Instead, use an encrypted protocol such as SSL or SSH. MySQL supports internal SSL connections. Another technique is to use SSH port-forwarding to create an encrypted (and compressed) tunnel for the communication.

  • Learn to use the tcpdump and strings utilities. In most cases, you can check whether MySQL data streams are unencrypted by issuing a command like the following:

    shell> tcpdump -l -i eth0 -w - src or dst port 3306 | strings
    

    This works under Linux and should work with small modifications under other systems.

    Warning

    If you do not see cleartext data, this does not always mean that the information actually is encrypted. If you need high security, consult with a security expert.

6.1.2. Keeping Passwords Secure

Passwords occur in several contexts within MySQL. The following sections provide guidelines that enable end users and administrators to keep these passwords secure and avoid exposing them. There is also a discussion of how MySQL uses password hashing internally.

6.1.2.1. End-User Guidelines for Password Security

MySQL users should use the following guidelines to keep passwords secure.

When you run a client program to connect to the MySQL server, it is inadvisable to specify your password in a way that exposes it to discovery by other users. The methods you can use to specify your password when you run client programs are listed here, along with an assessment of the risks of each method. In short, the safest methods are to have the client program prompt for the password or to specify the password in a properly protected option file.

  • Use a -pyour_pass or --password=your_pass option on the command line. For example:

    shell> mysql -u francis -pfrank db_name
    

    This is convenient but insecure. On some systems, your password becomes visible to system status programs such as ps that may be invoked by other users to display command lines. MySQL clients typically overwrite the command-line password argument with zeros during their initialization sequence. However, there is still a brief interval during which the value is visible. Also, on some systems this overwriting strategy is ineffective and the password remains visible to ps. (SystemV Unix systems and perhaps others are subject to this problem.)

    If your operating environment is set up to display your current command in the title bar of your terminal window, the password remains visible as long as the command is running, even if the command has scrolled out of view in the window content area.

  • Use the -p or --password option on the command line with no password value specified. In this case, the client program solicits the password interactively:

    shell> mysql -u francis -p db_name
    Enter password: ********
    

    The * characters indicate where you enter your password. The password is not displayed as you enter it.

    It is more secure to enter your password this way than to specify it on the command line because it is not visible to other users. However, this method of entering a password is suitable only for programs that you run interactively. If you want to invoke a client from a script that runs noninteractively, there is no opportunity to enter the password from the keyboard. On some systems, you may even find that the first line of your script is read and interpreted (incorrectly) as your password.

  • Store your password in an option file. For example, on Unix, you can list your password in the [client] section of the .my.cnf file in your home directory:

    [client]
    password=your_pass

    To keep the password safe, the file should not be accessible to anyone but yourself. To ensure this, set the file access mode to 400 or 600. For example:

    shell> chmod 600 .my.cnf
    

    To name from the command line a specific option file containing the password, use the --defaults-file=file_name option, where file_name is the full path name to the file. For example:

    shell> mysql --defaults-file=/home/francis/mysql-opts
    

    Section 4.2.3.3, “Using Option Files”, discusses option files in more detail.

  • Store your password in the MYSQL_PWD environment variable. See Section 2.14, “Environment Variables”.

    This method of specifying your MySQL password must be considered extremely insecure and should not be used. Some versions of ps include an option to display the environment of running processes. On some systems, if you set MYSQL_PWD, your password is exposed to any other user who runs ps. Even on systems without such a version of ps, it is unwise to assume that there are no other methods by which users can examine process environments.

On Unix, the mysql client writes a record of executed statements to a history file (see Section 4.5.1.3, “mysql History File”). By default, this file is named .mysql_history and is created in your home directory. Passwords can be written as plain text in SQL statements such as CREATE USER, GRANT, and SET PASSWORD, so if you use these statements, they are logged in the history file. To keep this file safe, use a restrictive access mode, the same way as described earlier for the .my.cnf file.

If your command interpreter is configured to maintain a history, any file in which the commands are saved will contain MySQL passwords entered on the command line. For example, bash uses ~/.bash_history. Any such file should have a restrictive access mode.

6.1.2.2. Administrator Guidelines for Password Security

Database administrators should use the following guidelines to keep passwords secure.

MySQL stores passwords for user accounts in the mysql.user table. Access to this table should never be granted to any nonadministrative accounts.

A user who has access to modify the plugin directory (the value of the plugin_dir system variable) or the my.cnf file that specifies the location of the plugin directory can replace plugins and modify the capabilities provided by plugins.

Files such as log files to which passwords might be written should be protected. See Section 6.1.2.3, “Passwords and Logging”.

6.1.2.3. Passwords and Logging

Passwords can be written as plain text in SQL statements such as CREATE USER, GRANT, and SET PASSWORD, or statements that invoke the PASSWORD() function. If these statements are logged by the MySQL server as written, such passwords become available to anyone with access to the logs. This applies to the general query log, the slow query log, and the binary log (see Section 5.2, “MySQL Server Logs”). To guard against unwarranted exposure to log files, they should be located in a directory that restricts access to only the server and the database administrator. If you log to tables in the mysql database, access to the tables should never be granted to any nonadministrative accounts.

Replication slaves store the password for the replication master in the master.info file. Restrict this file to be accessible only to the database administrator.

Database backups that include tables or log files containing passwords should be protected using a restricted access mode.

6.1.2.4. Password Hashing in MySQL

MySQL lists user accounts in the user table of the mysql database. Each MySQL account can be assigned a password, although the user table does not store the cleartext version of the password, but a hash value computed from it.

MySQL uses passwords in two phases of client/server communication:

  • When a client attempts to connect to the server, there is an initial authentication step in which the client must present a password that has a hash value matching the hash value stored in the user table for the account the client wants to use.

  • After the client connects, it can (if it has sufficient privileges) set or change the password hash for accounts listed in the user table. The client can do this by using the PASSWORD() function to generate a password hash, or by using a password-generating statement (CREATE USER, GRANT, or SET PASSWORD).

In other words, the server checks hash values during authentication when a client first attempts to connect. The server generates hash values if a connected client invokes the PASSWORD() function or uses a password-generating statement to set or change a password.

Password hashing methods in MySQL have the history described following. These changes are illustrated by changes in the result from the PASSWORD() function that computes password hash values and in the structure of the user table where passwords are stored.

The Original (Pre-4.1) Hashing Method

The original hashing method produced a 16-byte string. Such hashes look like this:

mysql> SELECT PASSWORD('mypass');
+--------------------+
| PASSWORD('mypass') |
+--------------------+
| 6f8c114b58f2ce9e   |
+--------------------+

To store account passwords, the Password column of the user table was at this point 16 bytes long.

The 4.1 Hashing Method

MySQL 4.1 introduced password hashing that provides better security and reduces the risk of passwords being intercepted. There were several aspects to this change:

  • Different PASSWORD() function result format

  • Widening of the Password column

  • Control over the default hashing method

  • Control over the permitted hashing methods for clients attempting to connect to the server

The changes in MySQL 4.1 took place in two stages:

  • MySQL 4.1.0 used a preliminary version of the 4.1 hashing method. Because this method was so short lived, the following discussion says no more about it.

  • In MySQL 4.1.1, the hashing method was modified to produce a longer 41-byte hash value:

    mysql> SELECT PASSWORD('mypass');
    +-------------------------------------------+
    | PASSWORD('mypass')                        |
    +-------------------------------------------+
    | *6C8989366EAF75BB670AD8EA7A7FC1176A95CEF4 |
    +-------------------------------------------+
    

    The longer password hash format has better cryptographic properties, and client authentication based on long hashes is more secure than that based on the older short hashes.

    To accommodate longer password hashes, the Password column in the user table was changed at this point to be 41 bytes, its current length.

    A widened Password column can store password hashes in both the pre-4.1 and 4.1 formats. The format of any given hash value can be determined two ways:

    • The length: 4.1 and pre-4.1 hashes are 41 and 16 bytes, respectively.

    • Password hashes in the 4.1 format always begin with a * character, whereas passwords in the pre-4.1 format never do.

    To permit explicit generation of pre-4.1 password hashes, two additional changes were made:

    • The OLD_PASSWORD() function was added, which returns hash values in the 16-byte format.

    • For compatibility purposes, the old_passwords system variable was added, to enable DBAs and applications control over the hashing method. The default old_passwords value of 0 causes hashing to use the 4.1 method (41-byte hash values), but setting old_passwords=1 causes hashing to use the pre-4.1 method. In this case, PASSWORD() produces 16-byte values and is equivalent to OLD_PASSWORD()

    To permit DBAs control over how clients are permitted to connect, the secure_auth system variable was added. Starting the server with this variable disabled or enabled permits or prohibits clients to connect using the older pre-4.1 password hashing method. Before MySQL 5.6.5, secure_auth is disabled by default. As of 5.6.5, secure_auth is enabled by default to promote a more secure default configuration. (DBAs can disable it at their discretion, but this is not recommended.)

    In addition, the mysql client supports a --secure-auth option that is analogous to secure_auth, but from the client side. It can be used to prevent connections to less secure accounts that use pre-4.1 password hashing. This option is disabled by default before MySQL 5.6.7, enabled thereafter.

Compatibility Issues Related to Hashing Methods

The widening of the Password column in MySQL 4.1 from 16 bytes to 41 bytes affects installation or upgrade operations as follows:

  • If you perform a new installation of MySQL, the Password column is made 41 bytes long automatically.

  • Upgrades from MySQL 4.1 or later to current versions of MySQL should not give rise to any issues in regard to the Password column because both versions use the same column length and password hashing method.

  • For upgrades from a pre-4.1 release to 4.1 or later, you must upgrade the system tables after upgrading. (See Section 4.4.8, “mysql_upgrade — Check and Upgrade MySQL Tables”.)

The 4.1 hashing method is understood only by MySQL 4.1 (and newer) servers and clients, which can result in some compatibility problems. A 4.1 or newer client can connect to a pre-4.1 server, because the client understands both the pre-4.1 and 4.1 password hashing methods. However, a pre-4.1 client that attempts to connect to a 4.1 or newer server may run into difficulties. For example, a 4.0 mysql client may fail with the following error message:

shell> mysql -h localhost -u root
Client does not support authentication protocol requested
by server; consider upgrading MySQL client

This phenomenon also occurs for attempts to use the older PHP mysql extension after upgrading to MySQL 4.1 or newer. (See Section 21.9.12, “Common Problems with MySQL and PHP”.)

The following discussion describes the differences between the pre-4.1 and 4.1 hashing methods, and what you should do if you upgrade your server but need to maintain backward compatibility with pre-4.1 clients. (However, permitting connections by old clients is not recommended and should be avoided if possible.) Additional information can be found in Section C.5.2.4, “Client does not support authentication protocol. This information is of particular importance to PHP programmers migrating MySQL databases from versions older than 4.1 to 4.1 or higher.

The differences between short and long password hashes are relevant both for how the server uses passwords during authentication and for how it generates password hashes for connected clients that perform password-changing operations.

The way in which the server uses password hashes during authentication is affected by the width of the Password column:

  • If the column is short, only short-hash authentication is used.

  • If the column is long, it can hold either short or long hashes, and the server can use either format:

    • Pre-4.1 clients can connect, but because they know only about the pre-4.1 hashing method, they can authenticate only using accounts that have short hashes.

    • 4.1 and later clients can authenticate using accounts that have short or long hashes.

Even for short-hash accounts, the authentication process is actually a bit more secure for 4.1 and later clients than for older clients. In terms of security, the gradient from least to most secure is:

  • Pre-4.1 client authenticating with short password hash

  • 4.1 or later client authenticating with short password hash

  • 4.1 or later client authenticating with long password hash

The way in which the server generates password hashes for connected clients is affected by the width of the Password column and by the old_passwords system variable. A 4.1 or later server generates long hashes only if certain conditions are met: The Password column must be wide enough to hold long values and old_passwords must not be set to 1.

Those conditions apply as follows:

  • The Password column must be wide enough to hold long hashes (41 bytes). If the column has not been updated and still has the pre-4.1 width of 16 bytes, the server notices that long hashes cannot fit into it and generates only short hashes when a client performs password-changing operations using the PASSWORD() function or a password-generating statement. This is the behavior that occurs if you have upgraded from a version of MySQL older than 4.1 to 4.1 or later but have not yet run the mysql_upgrade program to widen the Password column.

  • If the Password column is wide, it can store either short or long password hashes. In this case, the PASSWORD() function and password-generating statements generate long hashes unless the server was started with the old_passwords system variable set to 1 to force the server to generate short password hashes instead.

The purpose of the old_passwords system variable is to permit backward compatibility with pre-4.1 clients under circumstances where the server would otherwise generate long password hashes. The option does not affect authentication (4.1 and later clients can still use accounts that have long password hashes), but it does prevent creation of a long password hash in the user table as the result of a password-changing operation. Were that permitted to occur, the account could no longer be used by pre-4.1 clients. With old_passwords disabled, the following undesirable scenario is possible:

  • An old pre-4.1 client connects to an account that has a short password hash.

  • The client changes its own password. With old_passwords disabled, this results in the account having a long password hash.

  • The next time the old client attempts to connect to the account, it cannot, because the account has a long password hash that requires the 4.1 hashing method during authentication. (Once an account has a long password hash in the user table, only 4.1 and later clients can authenticate for it because pre-4.1 clients do not understand long hashes.)

This scenario illustrates that, if you must support older pre-4.1 clients, it is problematic to run a 4.1 or newer server without old_passwords set to 1. By running the server with old_passwords=1, password-changing operations do not generate long password hashes and thus do not cause accounts to become inaccessible to older clients. (Those clients cannot inadvertently lock themselves out by changing their password and ending up with a long password hash.)

The downside of old_passwords=1 is that any passwords created or changed use short hashes, even for 4.1 or later clients. Thus, you lose the additional security provided by long password hashes. To create an account that has a long hash (for example, for use by 4.1 clients) or to change an existing account to use a long password hash, an administrator can set the session value of old_passwords set to 0 while leaving the global value set to 1:

mysql> SET @@session.old_passwords = 0;
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> SELECT @@session.old_passwords, @@global.old_passwords;
+-------------------------+------------------------+
| @@session.old_passwords | @@global.old_passwords |
+-------------------------+------------------------+
|                       0 |                      1 |
+-------------------------+------------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

mysql> CREATE USER 'newuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'newpass';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.03 sec)

mysql> SET PASSWORD FOR 'existinguser'@'localhost' = PASSWORD('existingpass');
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

The following scenarios are possible in MySQL 4.1 or later. The factors are whether the Password column is short or long, and, if long, whether the server is started with old_passwords enabled or disabled.

Scenario 1: Short Password column in user table:

  • Only short hashes can be stored in the Password column.

  • The server uses only short hashes during client authentication.

  • For connected clients, password hash-generating operations involving the PASSWORD() function or password-generating statements use short hashes exclusively. Any change to an account's password results in that account having a short password hash.

  • The value of old_passwords is irrelevant because with a short Password column, the server generates only short password hashes anyway.

This scenario occurs when a pre-4.1 MySQL installation has been upgraded to 4.1 or later but mysql_upgrade has not been run to upgrade the system tables in the mysql database. (This is not a recommended configuration because it does not permit use of more secure 4.1 password hashing.)

Scenario 2: Long Password column; server started with old_passwords=1:

  • Short or long hashes can be stored in the Password column.

  • 4.1 and later clients can authenticate for accounts that have short or long hashes.

  • Pre-4.1 clients can authenticate only for accounts that have short hashes.

  • For connected clients, password hash-generating operations involving the PASSWORD() function or password-generating statements use short hashes exclusively. Any change to an account's password results in that account having a short password hash.

In this scenario, newly created accounts have short password hashes because old_passwords=1 prevents generation of long hashes. Also, if you create an account with a long hash before setting old_passwords to 1, changing the account's password while old_passwords=1 results in the account being given a short password, causing it to lose the security benefits of a longer hash.

To create a new account that has a long password hash, or to change the password of any existing account to use a long hash, first set the session value of old_passwords set to 0 while leaving the global value set to 1, as described previously.

In this scenario, the server has an up to date Password column, but is running with the default password hashing method set to generate pre-4.1 hash values. This is not a recommended configuration but may be useful during a transitional period in which pre-4.1 clients and passwords are upgraded to 4.1 or later. When that has been done, it is preferable to run the server with old_passwords=0 and secure_auth=1.

Scenario 3: Long Password column; server started with old_passwords=0:

  • Short or long hashes can be stored in the Password column.

  • 4.1 and later clients can authenticate using accounts that have short or long hashes.

  • Pre-4.1 clients can authenticate only using accounts that have short hashes.

  • For connected clients, password hash-generating operations involving the PASSWORD() function or password-generating statements use short hashes exclusively. A change to an account's password results in that account having a long password hash.

As indicated earlier, a danger in this scenario is that it is possible for accounts that have a short password hash to become inaccessible to pre-4.1 clients. A change to such an account's password made using the PASSWORD() function or a password-generating statement results in the account being given a long password hash. From that point on, no pre-4.1 client can connect to the server using that account. The client must upgrade to 4.1 or later.

If this is a problem, you can change a password in a special way. For example, normally you use SET PASSWORD as follows to change an account password:

SET PASSWORD FOR 'some_user'@'some_host' = PASSWORD('mypass');

To change the password but create a short hash, use the OLD_PASSWORD() function instead:

SET PASSWORD FOR 'some_user'@'some_host' = OLD_PASSWORD('mypass');

OLD_PASSWORD() is useful for situations in which you explicitly want to generate a short hash.

The disadvantages for each of the preceding scenarios may be summarized as follows:

In scenario 1, you cannot take advantage of longer hashes that provide more secure authentication.

In scenario 2, old_passwords=1 prevents accounts with short hashes from becoming inaccessible, but password-changing operations cause accounts with long hashes to revert to short hashes unless you take care to change the session value of old_passwords to 0 first.

In scenario 3, accounts with short hashes become inaccessible to pre-4.1 clients if you change their passwords without explicitly using OLD_PASSWORD().

The best way to avoid compatibility problems related to short password hashes is to not use them:

  • Upgrade all client programs to MySQL 4.1 or later.

  • Run the server with old_passwords=0.

  • Reset the password for any account with a short password hash to use a long password hash.

  • For additional security, run the server with secure_auth=1.

6.1.2.5. Implications of Password Hashing Changes in MySQL 4.1 for Application Programs

An upgrade to MySQL version 4.1 or later can cause compatibility issues for applications that use PASSWORD() to generate passwords for their own purposes. Applications really should not do this, because PASSWORD() should be used only to manage passwords for MySQL accounts. But some applications use PASSWORD() for their own purposes anyway.

If you upgrade to 4.1 or later from a pre-4.1 version of MySQL and run the server under conditions where it generates long password hashes, an application using PASSWORD() for its own passwords breaks. The recommended course of action in such cases is to modify the application to use another function, such as SHA1() or MD5(), to produce hashed values. If that is not possible, you can use the OLD_PASSWORD() function, which is provided for generate short hashes in the old format. However, you should note that OLD_PASSWORD() may one day no longer be supported.

If the server is running with old_passwords=1, it generates short hashes and OLD_PASSWORD() is is equivalent to PASSWORD().

PHP programmers migrating their MySQL databases from version 4.0 or lower to version 4.1 or higher should see Section 21.9, “MySQL PHP API”.

6.1.3. Making MySQL Secure Against Attackers

When you connect to a MySQL server, you should use a password. The password is not transmitted in clear text over the connection. Password handling during the client connection sequence was upgraded in MySQL 4.1.1 to be very secure. If you are still using pre-4.1.1-style passwords, the encryption algorithm is not as strong as the newer algorithm. With some effort, a clever attacker who can sniff the traffic between the client and the server can crack the password. (See Section 6.1.2.4, “Password Hashing in MySQL”, for a discussion of the different password handling methods.)

All other information is transferred as text, and can be read by anyone who is able to watch the connection. If the connection between the client and the server goes through an untrusted network, and you are concerned about this, you can use the compressed protocol to make traffic much more difficult to decipher. You can also use MySQL's internal SSL support to make the connection even more secure. See Section 6.3.6, “Using SSL for Secure Connections”. Alternatively, use SSH to get an encrypted TCP/IP connection between a MySQL server and a MySQL client. You can find an Open Source SSH client at http://www.openssh.org/, and a commercial SSH client at http://www.ssh.com/.

To make a MySQL system secure, you should strongly consider the following suggestions:

  • Require all MySQL accounts to have a password. A client program does not necessarily know the identity of the person running it. It is common for client/server applications that the user can specify any user name to the client program. For example, anyone can use the mysql program to connect as any other person simply by invoking it as mysql -u other_user db_name if other_user has no password. If all accounts have a password, connecting using another user's account becomes much more difficult.

    For a discussion of methods for setting passwords, see Section 6.3.5, “Assigning Account Passwords”.

  • Make sure that the only Unix user account with read or write privileges in the database directories is the account that is used for running mysqld.

  • Never run the MySQL server as the Unix root user. This is extremely dangerous, because any user with the FILE privilege is able to cause the server to create files as root (for example, ~root/.bashrc). To prevent this, mysqld refuses to run as root unless that is specified explicitly using the --user=root option.

    mysqld can (and should) be run as an ordinary, unprivileged user instead. You can create a separate Unix account named mysql to make everything even more secure. Use this account only for administering MySQL. To start mysqld as a different Unix user, add a user option that specifies the user name in the [mysqld] group of the my.cnf option file where you specify server options. For example:

    [mysqld]
    user=mysql

    This causes the server to start as the designated user whether you start it manually or by using mysqld_safe or mysql.server. For more details, see Section 6.1.5, “How to Run MySQL as a Normal User”.

    Running mysqld as a Unix user other than root does not mean that you need to change the root user name in the user table. User names for MySQL accounts have nothing to do with user names for Unix accounts.

  • Do not grant the FILE privilege to nonadministrative users. Any user that has this privilege can write a file anywhere in the file system with the privileges of the mysqld daemon. This includes the server's data directory containing the files that implement the privilege tables. To make FILE-privilege operations a bit safer, files generated with SELECT ... INTO OUTFILE do not overwrite existing files and are writable by everyone.

    The FILE privilege may also be used to read any file that is world-readable or accessible to the Unix user that the server runs as. With this privilege, you can read any file into a database table. This could be abused, for example, by using LOAD DATA to load /etc/passwd into a table, which then can be displayed with SELECT.

    To limit the location in which files can be read and written, set the secure_file_priv system to a specific directory. See Section 5.1.4, “Server System Variables”.

  • Do not grant the PROCESS or SUPER privilege to nonadministrative users. The output of mysqladmin processlist and SHOW PROCESSLIST shows the text of any statements currently being executed, so any user who is permitted to see the server process list might be able to see statements issued by other users such as UPDATE user SET password=PASSWORD('not_secure').

    mysqld reserves an extra connection for users who have the SUPER privilege, so that a MySQL root user can log in and check server activity even if all normal connections are in use.

    The SUPER privilege can be used to terminate client connections, change server operation by changing the value of system variables, and control replication servers.

  • Do not permit the use of symlinks to tables. (This capability can be disabled with the --skip-symbolic-links option.) This is especially important if you run mysqld as root, because anyone that has write access to the server's data directory then could delete any file in the system! See Section 8.9.6.2, “Using Symbolic Links for MyISAM Tables on Unix”.

  • Stored programs and views should be written using the security guidelines discussed in Section 19.6, “Access Control for Stored Programs and Views”.

  • If you do not trust your DNS, you should use IP addresses rather than host names in the grant tables. In any case, you should be very careful about creating grant table entries using host name values that contain wildcards.

  • If you want to restrict the number of connections permitted to a single account, you can do so by setting the max_user_connections variable in mysqld. The GRANT statement also supports resource control options for limiting the extent of server use permitted to an account. See Section 13.7.1.3, “GRANT Syntax”.

  • If the plugin directory is writable by the server, it may be possible for a user to write executable code to a file in the directory using SELECT ... INTO DUMPFILE. This can be prevented by making plugin_dir read only to the server or by setting --secure-file-priv to a directory where SELECT writes can be made safely.

6.1.4. Security-Related mysqld Options and Variables

The following table shows mysqld options and system variables that affect security. For descriptions of each of these, see Section 5.1.3, “Server Command Options”, and Section 5.1.4, “Server System Variables”.

Table 6.1. Security Option/Variable Summary

NameCmd-LineOption fileSystem VarStatus VarVar ScopeDynamic
allow-suspicious-udfsYesYes    
automatic_sp_privileges  Yes GlobalYes
chrootYesYes    
des-key-fileYesYes    
local_infile  Yes GlobalYes
old_passwords  Yes BothYes
safe-show-databaseYesYesYes GlobalYes
safe-user-createYesYes    
secure-authYesYes  GlobalYes
- Variable: secure_auth  Yes GlobalYes
secure-file-privYesYes  GlobalNo
- Variable: secure_file_priv  Yes GlobalNo
skip-grant-tablesYesYes    
skip-name-resolveYesYes  GlobalNo
- Variable: skip_name_resolve  Yes GlobalNo
skip-networkingYesYes  GlobalNo
- Variable: skip_networking  Yes GlobalNo
skip-show-databaseYesYes  GlobalNo
- Variable: skip_show_database  Yes GlobalNo

6.1.5. How to Run MySQL as a Normal User

On Windows, you can run the server as a Windows service using a normal user account.

On Unix, the MySQL server mysqld can be started and run by any user. However, you should avoid running the server as the Unix root user for security reasons. To change mysqld to run as a normal unprivileged Unix user user_name, you must do the following:

  1. Stop the server if it is running (use mysqladmin shutdown).

  2. Change the database directories and files so that user_name has privileges to read and write files in them (you might need to do this as the Unix root user):

    shell> chown -R user_name /path/to/mysql/datadir
    

    If you do not do this, the server will not be able to access databases or tables when it runs as user_name.

    If directories or files within the MySQL data directory are symbolic links, chown -R might not follow symbolic links for you. If it does not, you will also need to follow those links and change the directories and files they point to.

  3. Start the server as user user_name. Another alternative is to start mysqld as the Unix root user and use the --user=user_name option. mysqld starts up, then switches to run as the Unix user user_name before accepting any connections.

  4. To start the server as the given user automatically at system startup time, specify the user name by adding a user option to the [mysqld] group of the /etc/my.cnf option file or the my.cnf option file in the server's data directory. For example:

    [mysqld]
    user=user_name
    

If your Unix machine itself is not secured, you should assign passwords to the MySQL root accounts in the grant tables. Otherwise, any user with a login account on that machine can run the mysql client with a --user=root option and perform any operation. (It is a good idea to assign passwords to MySQL accounts in any case, but especially so when other login accounts exist on the server host.) See Section 2.12, “Postinstallation Setup and Testing”.

6.1.6. Security Issues with LOAD DATA LOCAL

The LOAD DATA statement can load a file that is located on the server host, or it can load a file that is located on the client host when the LOCAL keyword is specified.

There are two potential security issues with supporting the LOCAL version of LOAD DATA statements:

  • The transfer of the file from the client host to the server host is initiated by the MySQL server. In theory, a patched server could be built that would tell the client program to transfer a file of the server's choosing rather than the file named by the client in the LOAD DATA statement. Such a server could access any file on the client host to which the client user has read access.

  • In a Web environment where the clients are connecting from a Web server, a user could use LOAD DATA LOCAL to read any files that the Web server process has read access to (assuming that a user could run any command against the SQL server). In this environment, the client with respect to the MySQL server actually is the Web server, not the remote program being run by the user who connects to the Web server.

To deal with these problems, we changed how LOAD DATA LOCAL is handled as of MySQL 3.23.49 and MySQL 4.0.2 (4.0.13 on Windows):

  • By default, all MySQL clients and libraries in binary distributions are compiled with the --enable-local-infile option, to be compatible with MySQL 3.23.48 and before.

  • If you build MySQL from source but do not invoke configure with the --enable-local-infile option, LOAD DATA LOCAL cannot be used by any client unless it is written explicitly to invoke mysql_options(... MYSQL_OPT_LOCAL_INFILE, 0). See Section 21.8.3.49, “mysql_options().

  • You can disable all LOAD DATA LOCAL statements from the server side by starting mysqld with the --local-infile=0 option.

  • For the mysql command-line client, enable LOAD DATA LOCAL by specifying the --local-infile[=1] option, or disable it with the --local-infile=0 option. For mysqlimport, local data file loading is off by default; enable it with the --local or -L option. In any case, successful use of a local load operation requires that the server permits it.

  • If you use LOAD DATA LOCAL in Perl scripts or other programs that read the [client] group from option files, you can add the local-infile=1 option to that group. However, to keep this from causing problems for programs that do not understand local-infile, specify it using the loose- prefix:

    [client]
    loose-local-infile=1
  • If LOAD DATA LOCAL is disabled, either in the server or the client, a client that attempts to issue such a statement receives the following error message:

    ERROR 1148: The used command is not allowed with this MySQL version

6.1.7. Client Programming Security Guidelines

Applications that access MySQL should not trust any data entered by users, who can try to trick your code by entering special or escaped character sequences in Web forms, URLs, or whatever application you have built. Be sure that your application remains secure if a user enters something like ; DROP DATABASE mysql;. This is an extreme example, but large security leaks and data loss might occur as a result of hackers using similar techniques, if you do not prepare for them.

A common mistake is to protect only string data values. Remember to check numeric data as well. If an application generates a query such as SELECT * FROM table WHERE ID=234 when a user enters the value 234, the user can enter the value 234 OR 1=1 to cause the application to generate the query SELECT * FROM table WHERE ID=234 OR 1=1. As a result, the server retrieves every row in the table. This exposes every row and causes excessive server load. The simplest way to protect from this type of attack is to use single quotation marks around the numeric constants: SELECT * FROM table WHERE ID='234'. If the user enters extra information, it all becomes part of the string. In a numeric context, MySQL automatically converts this string to a number and strips any trailing nonnumeric characters from it.

Sometimes people think that if a database contains only publicly available data, it need not be protected. This is incorrect. Even if it is permissible to display any row in the database, you should still protect against denial of service attacks (for example, those that are based on the technique in the preceding paragraph that causes the server to waste resources). Otherwise, your server becomes unresponsive to legitimate users.

Checklist:

  • Enable strict SQL mode to tell the server to be more restrictive of what data values it accepts. See Section 5.1.7, “Server SQL Modes”.

  • Try to enter single and double quotation marks (' and ") in all of your Web forms. If you get any kind of MySQL error, investigate the problem right away.

  • Try to modify dynamic URLs by adding %22 ("), %23 (#), and %27 (') to them.

  • Try to modify data types in dynamic URLs from numeric to character types using the characters shown in the previous examples. Your application should be safe against these and similar attacks.

  • Try to enter characters, spaces, and special symbols rather than numbers in numeric fields. Your application should remove them before passing them to MySQL or else generate an error. Passing unchecked values to MySQL is very dangerous!

  • Check the size of data before passing it to MySQL.

  • Have your application connect to the database using a user name different from the one you use for administrative purposes. Do not give your applications any access privileges they do not need.

Many application programming interfaces provide a means of escaping special characters in data values. Properly used, this prevents application users from entering values that cause the application to generate statements that have a different effect than you intend:

  • MySQL C API: Use the mysql_real_escape_string() API call.

  • MySQL++: Use the escape and quote modifiers for query streams.

  • PHP: Use either the mysqli or pdo_mysql extensions, and not the older ext/mysql extension. The preferred API's support the improved MySQL authentication protocol and passwords, as well as prepared statements with placeholders. See also Section 21.9.1.3, “Choosing an API”.

    If the older ext/mysql extension must be used, then for escaping use the mysql_real_escape_string() function and not mysql_escape_string() or addslashes() because only mysql_real_escape_string() is character set-aware; the other functions can be bypassed when using (invalid) multi-byte character sets.

  • Perl DBI: Use placeholders or the quote() method.

  • Ruby DBI: Use placeholders or the quote() method.

  • Java JDBC: Use a PreparedStatement object and placeholders.

Other programming interfaces might have similar capabilities.

6.2. The MySQL Access Privilege System

The primary function of the MySQL privilege system is to authenticate a user who connects from a given host and to associate that user with privileges on a database such as SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE. Additional functionality includes the ability to have anonymous users and to grant privileges for MySQL-specific functions such as LOAD DATA INFILE and administrative operations.

There are some things that you cannot do with the MySQL privilege system:

  • You cannot explicitly specify that a given user should be denied access. That is, you cannot explicitly match a user and then refuse the connection.

  • You cannot specify that a user has privileges to create or drop tables in a database but not to create or drop the database itself.

  • A password applies globally to an account. You cannot associate a password with a specific object such as a database, table, or routine.

The user interface to the MySQL privilege system consists of SQL statements such as CREATE USER, GRANT, and REVOKE. See Section 13.7.1, “Account Management Statements”.

Internally, the server stores privilege information in the grant tables of the mysql database (that is, in the database named mysql). The MySQL server reads the contents of these tables into memory when it starts and bases access-control decisions on the in-memory copies of the grant tables.

The MySQL privilege system ensures that all users may perform only the operations permitted to them. As a user, when you connect to a MySQL server, your identity is determined by the host from which you connect and the user name you specify. When you issue requests after connecting, the system grants privileges according to your identity and what you want to do.

MySQL considers both your host name and user name in identifying you because there is no reason to assume that a given user name belongs to the same person on all hosts. For example, the user joe who connects from office.example.com need not be the same person as the user joe who connects from home.example.com. MySQL handles this by enabling you to distinguish users on different hosts that happen to have the same name: You can grant one set of privileges for connections by joe from office.example.com, and a different set of privileges for connections by joe from home.example.com. To see what privileges a given account has, use the SHOW GRANTS statement. For example:

SHOW GRANTS FOR 'joe'@'office.example.com';
SHOW GRANTS FOR 'joe'@'home.example.com';

MySQL access control involves two stages when you run a client program that connects to the server:

Stage 1: The server accepts or rejects the connection based on your identity and whether you can verify your identity by supplying the correct password.

Stage 2: Assuming that you can connect, the server checks each statement you issue to determine whether you have sufficient privileges to perform it. For example, if you try to select rows from a table in a database or drop a table from the database, the server verifies that you have the SELECT privilege for the table or the DROP privilege for the database.

For a more detailed description of what happens during each stage, see Section 6.2.4, “Access Control, Stage 1: Connection Verification”, and Section 6.2.5, “Access Control, Stage 2: Request Verification”.

If your privileges are changed (either by yourself or someone else) while you are connected, those changes do not necessarily take effect immediately for the next statement that you issue. For details about the conditions under which the server reloads the grant tables, see Section 6.2.6, “When Privilege Changes Take Effect”.

For general security-related advice, see Section 6.1, “General Security Issues”. For help in diagnosing privilege-related problems, see Section 6.2.7, “Causes of Access-Denied Errors”.

6.2.1. Privileges Provided by MySQL

MySQL provides privileges that apply in different contexts and at different levels of operation:

  • Administrative privileges enable users to manage operation of the MySQL server. These privileges are global because they are not specific to a particular database.

  • Database privileges apply to a database and to all objects within it. These privileges can be granted for specific databases, or globally so that they apply to all databases.

  • Privileges for database objects such as tables, indexes, views, and stored routines can be granted for specific objects within a database, for all objects of a given type within a database (for example, all tables in a database), or globally for all objects of a given type in all databases).

Information about account privileges is stored in the user, db, host, tables_priv, columns_priv, and procs_priv tables in the mysql database (see Section 6.2.2, “Privilege System Grant Tables”). The MySQL server reads the contents of these tables into memory when it starts and reloads them under the circumstances indicated in Section 6.2.6, “When Privilege Changes Take Effect”. Access-control decisions are based on the in-memory copies of the grant tables.

Some releases of MySQL introduce changes to the structure of the grant tables to add new access privileges or features. Whenever you update to a new version of MySQL, you should update your grant tables to make sure that they have the current structure so that you can take advantage of any new capabilities. See Section 4.4.8, “mysql_upgrade — Check and Upgrade MySQL Tables”.

The following table shows the privilege names used at the SQL level in the GRANT and REVOKE statements, along with the column name associated with each privilege in the grant tables and the context in which the privilege applies.

Table 6.2. Permissible Privileges for GRANT and REVOKE

PrivilegeColumnContext
CREATECreate_privdatabases, tables, or indexes
DROPDrop_privdatabases, tables, or views
GRANT OPTIONGrant_privdatabases, tables, or stored routines
LOCK TABLESLock_tables_privdatabases
REFERENCESReferences_privdatabases or tables
EVENTEvent_privdatabases
ALTERAlter_privtables
DELETEDelete_privtables
INDEXIndex_privtables
INSERTInsert_privtables or columns
SELECTSelect_privtables or columns
UPDATEUpdate_privtables or columns
CREATE TEMPORARY TABLESCreate_tmp_table_privtables
TRIGGERTrigger_privtables
CREATE VIEWCreate_view_privviews
SHOW VIEWShow_view_privviews
ALTER ROUTINEAlter_routine_privstored routines
CREATE ROUTINECreate_routine_privstored routines
EXECUTEExecute_privstored routines
FILEFile_privfile access on server host
CREATE USERCreate_user_privserver administration
PROCESSProcess_privserver administration
RELOADReload_privserver administration
REPLICATION CLIENTRepl_client_privserver administration
REPLICATION SLAVERepl_slave_privserver administration
SHOW DATABASESShow_db_privserver administration
SHUTDOWNShutdown_privserver administration
SUPERSuper_privserver administration
ALL [PRIVILEGES] server administration
USAGE server administration

The following list provides a general description of each privilege available in MySQL. Particular SQL statements might have more specific privilege requirements than indicated here. If so, the description for the statement in question provides the details.

  • The ALL or ALL PRIVILEGES privilege specifier is shorthand. It stands for all privileges available at a given privilege level (except GRANT OPTION). For example, granting ALL at the global or table level grants all global privileges or all table-level privileges.

  • The ALTER privilege enables use of ALTER TABLE to change the structure of tables. ALTER TABLE also requires the CREATE and INSERT privileges. Renaming a table requires ALTER and DROP on the old table, ALTER, CREATE, and INSERT on the new table.

  • The ALTER ROUTINE privilege is needed to alter or drop stored routines (procedures and functions).

  • The CREATE privilege enables creation of new databases and tables.

  • The CREATE ROUTINE privilege is needed to create stored routines (procedures and functions).

  • The CREATE TEMPORARY TABLES privilege enables the creation of temporary tables using the CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE statement.

    However, other operations on a temporary table, such as INSERT, UPDATE, or SELECT, require additional privileges for those operations for the database containing the temporary table, or for the nontemporary table of the same name.

    To keep privileges for temporary and nontemporary tables separate, a common workaround for this situation is to create a database dedicated to the use of temporary tables. Then for that database, a user can be granted the CREATE TEMPORARY TABLES privilege, along with any other privileges required for temporary table operations done by that user.

  • The CREATE USER privilege enables use of CREATE USER, DROP USER, RENAME USER, and REVOKE ALL PRIVILEGES.

  • The CREATE VIEW privilege enables use of CREATE VIEW.

  • The DELETE privilege enables rows to be deleted from tables in a database.

  • The DROP privilege enables you to drop (remove) existing databases, tables, and views. Beginning with MySQL 5.1.10, the DROP privilege is also required to use the statement ALTER TABLE ... DROP PARTITION on a partitioned table. Beginning with MySQL 5.1.16, the DROP privilege is required for TRUNCATE TABLE (before that, TRUNCATE TABLE requires the DELETE privilege). If you grant the DROP privilege for the mysql database to a user, that user can drop the database in which the MySQL access privileges are stored.

  • The EVENT privilege is required to create, alter, drop, or see events for the Event Scheduler. This privilege was added in MySQL 5.1.6.

  • The EXECUTE privilege is required to execute stored routines (procedures and functions).

  • The FILE privilege gives you permission to read and write files on the server host using the LOAD DATA INFILE and SELECT ... INTO OUTFILE statements and the LOAD_FILE() function. A user who has the FILE privilege can read any file on the server host that is either world-readable or readable by the MySQL server. (This implies the user can read any file in any database directory, because the server can access any of those files.) The FILE privilege also enables the user to create new files in any directory where the MySQL server has write access. This includes the server's data directory containing the files that implement the privilege tables. As a security measure, the server will not overwrite existing files.

    To limit the location in which files can be read and written, set the secure_file_priv system to a specific directory. See Section 5.1.4, “Server System Variables”.

  • The GRANT OPTION privilege enables you to give to other users or remove from other users those privileges that you yourself possess.

  • The INDEX privilege enables you to create or drop (remove) indexes. INDEX applies to existing tables. If you have the CREATE privilege for a table, you can include index definitions in the CREATE TABLE statement.

  • The INSERT privilege enables rows to be inserted into tables in a database. INSERT is also required for the ANALYZE TABLE, OPTIMIZE TABLE, and REPAIR TABLE table-maintenance statements.

  • The LOCK TABLES privilege enables the use of explicit LOCK TABLES statements to lock tables for which you have the SELECT privilege. This includes the use of write locks, which prevents other sessions from reading the locked table.

  • The PROCESS privilege pertains to display of information about the threads executing within the server (that is, information about the statements being executed by sessions). The privilege enables use of SHOW PROCESSLIST or mysqladmin processlist to see threads belonging to other accounts; you can always see your own threads.

  • The REFERENCES privilege currently is unused.

  • The RELOAD privilege enables use of the FLUSH statement. It also enables mysqladmin commands that are equivalent to FLUSH operations: flush-hosts, flush-logs, flush-privileges, flush-status, flush-tables, flush-threads, refresh, and reload.

    The reload command tells the server to reload the grant tables into memory. flush-privileges is a synonym for reload. The refresh command closes and reopens the log files and flushes all tables. The other flush-xxx commands perform functions similar to refresh, but are more specific and may be preferable in some instances. For example, if you want to flush just the log files, flush-logs is a better choice than refresh.

  • The REPLICATION CLIENT privilege enables the use of SHOW MASTER STATUS and SHOW SLAVE STATUS. In MySQL 5.1.64 and later, it also enables the use of the SHOW BINARY LOGS statement.

  • The REPLICATION SLAVE privilege should be granted to accounts that are used by slave servers to connect to the current server as their master. Without this privilege, the slave cannot request updates that have been made to databases on the master server.

  • The SELECT privilege enables you to select rows from tables in a database. SELECT statements require the SELECT privilege only if they actually retrieve rows from a table. Some SELECT statements do not access tables and can be executed without permission for any database. For example, you can use SELECT as a simple calculator to evaluate expressions that make no reference to tables:

    SELECT 1+1;
    SELECT PI()*2;

    The SELECT privilege is also needed for other statements that read column values. For example, SELECT is needed for columns referenced on the right hand side of col_name=expr assignment in UPDATE statements or for columns named in the WHERE clause of DELETE or UPDATE statements.

  • The SHOW DATABASES privilege enables the account to see database names by issuing the SHOW DATABASE statement. Accounts that do not have this privilege see only databases for which they have some privileges, and cannot use the statement at all if the server was started with the --skip-show-database option. Note that any global privilege is a privilege for the database.

  • The SHOW VIEW privilege enables use of SHOW CREATE VIEW.

  • The SHUTDOWN privilege enables use of the mysqladmin shutdown command. There is no corresponding SQL statement.

  • The SUPER privilege enables an account to use CHANGE MASTER TO, KILL or mysqladmin kill to kill threads belonging to other accounts (you can always kill your own threads), PURGE BINARY LOGS, configuration changes using SET GLOBAL to modify global system variables, the mysqladmin debug command, enabling or disabling logging, performing updates even if the read_only system variable is enabled, starting and stopping replication on slave servers, specification of any account in the DEFINER attribute of stored programs and views, and enables you to connect (once) even if the connection limit controlled by the max_connections system variable is reached.

    To create or alter stored functions if binary logging is enabled, you may also need the SUPER privilege, as described in Section 19.7, “Binary Logging of Stored Programs”.

  • The TRIGGER privilege enables trigger operations. You must have this privilege for a table to create, drop, or execute triggers for that table. This privilege was added in MySQL 5.1.6. (Prior to MySQL 5.1.6, trigger operations required the SUPER privilege.)

  • The UPDATE privilege enables rows to be updated in tables in a database.

  • The USAGE privilege specifier stands for no privileges. It is used at the global level with GRANT to modify account attributes such as resource limits or SSL characteristics without affecting existing account privileges.

It is a good idea to grant to an account only those privileges that it needs. You should exercise particular caution in granting the FILE and administrative privileges:

  • The FILE privilege can be abused to read into a database table any files that the MySQL server can read on the server host. This includes all world-readable files and files in the server's data directory. The table can then be accessed using SELECT to transfer its contents to the client host.

  • The GRANT OPTION privilege enables users to give their privileges to other users. Two users that have different privileges and with the GRANT OPTION privilege are able to combine privileges.

  • The ALTER privilege may be used to subvert the privilege system by renaming tables.

  • The SHUTDOWN privilege can be abused to deny service to other users entirely by terminating the server.

  • The PROCESS privilege can be used to view the plain text of currently executing statements, including statements that set or change passwords.

  • The SUPER privilege can be used to terminate other sessions or change how the server operates.

  • Privileges granted for the mysql database itself can be used to change passwords and other access privilege information. Passwords are stored encrypted, so a malicious user cannot simply read them to know the plain text password. However, a user with write access to the user table Password column can change an account's password, and then connect to the MySQL server using that account.

6.2.2. Privilege System Grant Tables

Normally, you manipulate the contents of the grant tables in the mysql database indirectly by using statements such as GRANT and REVOKE to set up accounts and control the privileges available to each one. See Section 13.7.1, “Account Management Statements”. The discussion here describes the underlying structure of the grant tables and how the server uses their contents when interacting with clients.

These mysql database tables contain grant information:

  • user: Contains user accounts, global privileges, and other non-privilege columns.

  • db: Contains database-level privileges.

  • host: Obsolete.

  • tables_priv: Contains table-level privileges.

  • columns_priv: Contains column-level privileges.

  • procs_priv: Contains stored procedure and function privileges.

Other tables in the mysql database do not hold grant information and are discussed elsewhere:

Each grant table contains scope columns and privilege columns:

  • Scope columns determine the scope of each row (entry) in the tables; that is, the context in which the row applies. For example, a user table row with Host and User values of 'thomas.loc.gov' and 'bob' would be used for authenticating connections made to the server from the host thomas.loc.gov by a client that specifies a user name of bob. Similarly, a db table row with Host, User, and Db column values of 'thomas.loc.gov', 'bob' and 'reports' would be used when bob connects from the host thomas.loc.gov to access the reports database. The tables_priv and columns_priv tables contain scope columns indicating tables or table/column combinations to which each row applies. The procs_priv scope columns indicate the stored routine to which each row applies.

  • Privilege columns indicate which privileges are granted by a table row; that is, what operations can be performed. The server combines the information in the various grant tables to form a complete description of a user's privileges. Section 6.2.5, “Access Control, Stage 2: Request Verification”, describes the rules that are used to do this.

The server uses the grant tables in the following manner:

  • The user table scope columns determine whether to reject or permit incoming connections. For permitted connections, any privileges granted in the user table indicate the user's global privileges. Any privilege granted in this table applies to all databases on the server.

    Note

    Because any global privilege is considered a privilege for all databases, any global privilege enables a user to see all database names with SHOW DATABASES or by examining the SCHEMATA table of INFORMATION_SCHEMA.

  • The db table scope columns determine which users can access which databases from which hosts. The privilege columns determine which operations are permitted. A privilege granted at the database level applies to the database and to all objects in the database, such as tables and stored programs.

  • The host table is used in conjunction with the db table when you want a given db table row to apply to several hosts. For example, if you want a user to be able to use a database from several hosts in your network, leave the Host value empty in the user's db table row, then populate the host table with a row for each of those hosts. This mechanism is described more detail in Section 6.2.5, “Access Control, Stage 2: Request Verification”.

    Note

    The host table must be modified directly with statements such as INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE. It is not affected by statements such as GRANT and REVOKE that modify the grant tables indirectly. Most MySQL installations need not use this table at all.

  • The tables_priv and columns_priv tables are similar to the db table, but are more fine-grained: They apply at the table and column levels rather than at the database level. A privilege granted at the table level applies to the table and to all its columns. A privilege granted at the column level applies only to a specific column.

  • The procs_priv table applies to stored routines. A privilege granted at the routine level applies only to a single routine.

The server uses the user, db, and host tables in the mysql database at both the first and second stages of access control (see Section 6.2, “The MySQL Access Privilege System”). The columns in the user and db tables are shown here. The host table is similar to the db table but has a specialized use as described in Section 6.2.5, “Access Control, Stage 2: Request Verification”.

Table 6.3. user and db Table Columns

Table Nameuserdb
Scope columnsHostHost
 UserDb
 PasswordUser
Privilege columnsSelect_privSelect_priv
 Insert_privInsert_priv
 Update_privUpdate_priv
 Delete_privDelete_priv
 Index_privIndex_priv
 Alter_privAlter_priv
 Create_privCreate_priv
 Drop_privDrop_priv
 Grant_privGrant_priv
 Create_view_privCreate_view_priv
 Show_view_privShow_view_priv
 Create_routine_privCreate_routine_priv
 Alter_routine_privAlter_routine_priv
 Execute_privExecute_priv
 Trigger_privTrigger_priv
 Event_privEvent_priv
 Create_tmp_table_privCreate_tmp_table_priv
 Lock_tables_privLock_tables_priv
 References_privReferences_priv
 Reload_priv 
 Shutdown_priv 
 Process_priv 
 File_priv 
 Show_db_priv 
 Super_priv 
 Repl_slave_priv 
 Repl_client_priv 
 Create_user_priv 
Security columnsssl_type 
 ssl_cipher 
 x509_issuer 
 x509_subject 
Resource control columnsmax_questions 
 max_updates 
 max_connections 
 max_user_connections 

The Event_priv and Trigger_priv columns were added in MySQL 5.1.6.

During the second stage of access control, the server performs request verification to make sure that each client has sufficient privileges for each request that it issues. In addition to the user, db, and host grant tables, the server may also consult the tables_priv and columns_priv tables for requests that involve tables. The latter tables provide finer privilege control at the table and column levels. They have the columns shown in the following table.

Table 6.4. tables_priv and columns_priv Table Columns

Table Nametables_privcolumns_priv
Scope columnsHostHost
 DbDb
 UserUser
 Table_nameTable_name
  Column_name
Privilege columnsTable_privColumn_priv
 Column_priv 
Other columnsTimestampTimestamp
 Grantor 

The Timestamp and Grantor columns currently are unused and are discussed no further here.

For verification of requests that involve stored routines, the server may consult the procs_priv table, which has the columns shown in the following table.

Table 6.5. procs_priv Table Columns

Table Nameprocs_priv
Scope columnsHost
 Db
 User
 Routine_name
 Routine_type
Privilege columnsProc_priv
Other columnsTimestamp
 Grantor

The Routine_type column is an ENUM column with values of 'FUNCTION' or 'PROCEDURE' to indicate the type of routine the row refers to. This column enables privileges to be granted separately for a function and a procedure with the same name.

The Timestamp and Grantor columns are set to the current timestamp and the CURRENT_USER value, respectively. However, they are unused and are discussed no further here.

Scope columns in the grant tables contain strings. They are declared as shown here; the default value for each is the empty string.

Table 6.6. Grant Table Scope Column Types

Column NameType
HostCHAR(60)
UserCHAR(16)
PasswordCHAR(41)
DbCHAR(64)
Table_nameCHAR(64)
Column_nameCHAR(64)
Routine_nameCHAR(64)

For access-checking purposes, comparisons of User, Password, Db, and Table_name values are case sensitive. Comparisons of Host, Column_name, and Routine_name values are not case sensitive.

In the user, db, and host tables, each privilege is listed in a separate column that is declared as ENUM('N','Y') DEFAULT 'N'. In other words, each privilege can be disabled or enabled, with the default being disabled.

In the tables_priv, columns_priv, and procs_priv tables, the privilege columns are declared as SET columns. Values in these columns can contain any combination of the privileges controlled by the table. Only those privileges listed in the column value are enabled.

Table 6.7. Set-Type Privilege Column Values

Table NameColumn NamePossible Set Elements
tables_privTable_priv'Select', 'Insert', 'Update', 'Delete', 'Create', 'Drop', 'Grant', 'References', 'Index', 'Alter', 'Create View', 'Show view', 'Trigger'
tables_privColumn_priv'Select', 'Insert', 'Update', 'References'
columns_privColumn_priv'Select', 'Insert', 'Update', 'References'
procs_privProc_priv'Execute', 'Alter Routine', 'Grant'

Administrative privileges (such as RELOAD or SHUTDOWN) are specified only in the user table. Administrative operations are operations on the server itself and are not database-specific, so there is no reason to list these privileges in the other grant tables. Consequently, to determine whether you can perform an administrative operation, the server need consult only the user table.

The FILE privilege also is specified only in the user table. It is not an administrative privilege as such, but your ability to read or write files on the server host is independent of the database you are accessing.

The mysqld server reads the contents of the grant tables into memory when it starts. You can tell it to reload the tables by issuing a FLUSH PRIVILEGES statement or executing a mysqladmin flush-privileges or mysqladmin reload command. Changes to the grant tables take effect as indicated in Section 6.2.6, “When Privilege Changes Take Effect”.

When you modify an account's privileges, it is a good idea to verify that the changes set up privileges the way you want. To check the privileges for a given account, use the SHOW GRANTS statement (see Section 13.7.5.22, “SHOW GRANTS Syntax”). For example, to determine the privileges that are granted to an account with user name and host name values of bob and pc84.example.com, use this statement:

SHOW GRANTS FOR 'bob'@'pc84.example.com';

6.2.3. Specifying Account Names

MySQL account names consist of a user name and a host name. This enables creation of accounts for users with the same name who can connect from different hosts. This section describes how to write account names, including special values and wildcard rules.

In SQL statements such as CREATE USER, GRANT, and SET PASSWORD, write account names using the following rules:

  • Syntax for account names is 'user_name'@'host_name'.

  • An account name consisting only of a user name is equivalent to 'user_name'@'%'. For example, 'me' is equivalent to 'me'@'%'.

  • The user name and host name need not be quoted if they are legal as unquoted identifiers. Quotes are necessary to specify a user_name string containing special characters (such as -), or a host_name string containing special characters or wildcard characters (such as %); for example, 'test-user'@'%.com'.

  • Quote user names and host names as identifiers or as strings, using either backticks (`), single quotation marks ('), or double quotation marks (").

  • The user name and host name parts, if quoted, must be quoted separately. That is, write 'me'@'localhost', not 'me@localhost'; the latter is interpreted as 'me@localhost'@'%'.

  • A reference to the CURRENT_USER or CURRENT_USER() function is equivalent to specifying the current client's user name and host name literally.

MySQL stores account names in grant tables in the mysql database using separate columns for the user name and host name parts:

  • The user table contains one row for each account. The User and Host columns store the user name and host name. This table also indicates which global privileges the account has.

  • Other grant tables indicate privileges an account has for databases and objects within databases. These tables have User and Host columns to store the account name. Each row in these tables associates with the account in the user table that has the same User and Host values.

For additional detail about grant table structure, see Section 6.2.2, “Privilege System Grant Tables”.

User names and host names have certain special values or wildcard conventions, as described following.

A user name is either a nonblank value that literally matches the user name for incoming connection attempts, or a blank value (empty string) that matches any user name. An account with a blank user name is an anonymous user. To specify an anonymous user in SQL statements, use a quoted empty user name part, such as ''@'localhost'.

The host name part of an account name can take many forms, and wildcards are permitted:

  • A host value can be a host name or an IP address. The name 'localhost' indicates the local host. The IP address '127.0.0.1' indicates the loopback interface.

  • You can use the wildcard characters % and _ in host name or IP address values. These have the same meaning as for pattern-matching operations performed with the LIKE operator. For example, a host value of '%' matches any host name, whereas a value of '%.mysql.com' matches any host in the mysql.com domain. '192.168.1.%' matches any host in the 192.168.1 class C network.

    Because you can use IP wildcard values in host values (for example, '192.168.1.%' to match every host on a subnet), someone could try to exploit this capability by naming a host 192.168.1.somewhere.com. To foil such attempts, MySQL disallows matching on host names that start with digits and a dot. Thus, if you have a host named something like 1.2.example.com, its name never matches the host part of account names. An IP wildcard value can match only IP addresses, not host names.

  • For a host value specified as an IP address, you can specify a netmask indicating how many address bits to use for the network number. The syntax is host_ip/netmask. For example:

    CREATE USER 'david'@'192.58.197.0/255.255.255.0';

    This enables david to connect from any client host having an IP address client_ip for which the following condition is true:

    client_ip & netmask = host_ip
    

    That is, for the CREATE USER statement just shown:

    client_ip & 255.255.255.0 = 192.58.197.0
    

    IP addresses that satisfy this condition and can connect to the MySQL server are those in the range from 192.58.197.0 to 192.58.197.255.

    The netmask can only be used to tell the server to use 8, 16, 24, or 32 bits of the address. Examples:

    • 192.0.0.0/255.0.0.0: Any host on the 192 class A network

    • 192.168.0.0/255.255.0.0: Any host on the 192.168 class B network

    • 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0: Any host on the 192.168.1 class C network

    • 192.168.1.1: Only the host with this specific IP address

    The following netmask will not work because it masks 28 bits, and 28 is not a multiple of 8:

    192.168.0.1/255.255.255.240

The server performs matching of host values in account names against the client host using the value returned by the system DNS resolver for the client host name or IP address. Except in the case that the account host value is specified using netmask notation, this comparison is performed as a string match, even for an account host value given as an IP address. This means that you should specify account host values in the same format used by DNS. Here are examples of problems to watch out for:

  • Suppose that a host on the local network has a fully qualified name of host1.example.com. If DNS returns name lookups for this host as host1.example.com, use that name in account host values. But if DNS returns just host1, use host1 instead.

  • If DNS returns the IP address for a given host as 192.168.1.2, that will match an account host value of 192.168.1.2 but not 192.168.01.2. Similarly, it will match an account host pattern like 192.168.1.% but not 192.168.01.%.

To avoid problems like this, it is advisable to check the format in which your DNS returns host names and addresses, and use values in the same format in MySQL account names.

6.2.4. Access Control, Stage 1: Connection Verification

When you attempt to connect to a MySQL server, the server accepts or rejects the connection based on your identity and whether you can verify your identity by supplying the correct password. If not, the server denies access to you completely. Otherwise, the server accepts the connection, and then enters Stage 2 and waits for requests.

Your identity is based on two pieces of information:

  • The client host from which you connect

  • Your MySQL user name

Identity checking is performed using the three user table scope columns (Host, User, and Password). The server accepts the connection only if the Host and User columns in some user table row match the client host name and user name and the client supplies the password specified in that row. The rules for permissible Host and User values are given in Section 6.2.3, “Specifying Account Names”.

If the User column value is nonblank, the user name in an incoming connection must match exactly. If the User value is blank, it matches any user name. If the user table row that matches an incoming connection has a blank user name, the user is considered to be an anonymous user with no name, not a user with the name that the client actually specified. This means that a blank user name is used for all further access checking for the duration of the connection (that is, during Stage 2).

The Password column can be blank. This is not a wildcard and does not mean that any password matches. It means that the user must connect without specifying a password.

Nonblank Password values in the user table represent encrypted passwords. MySQL does not store passwords in plaintext form for anyone to see. Rather, the password supplied by a user who is attempting to connect is encrypted (using the PASSWORD() function). The encrypted password then is used during the connection process when checking whether the password is correct. This is done without the encrypted password ever traveling over the connection. See Section 6.3.1, “User Names and Passwords”.

From MySQL's point of view, the encrypted password is the real password, so you should never give anyone access to it. In particular, do not give nonadministrative users read access to tables in the mysql database.

The following table shows how various combinations of Host and User values in the user table apply to incoming connections.

Host ValueUser ValuePermissible Connections
'thomas.loc.gov''fred'fred, connecting from thomas.loc.gov
'thomas.loc.gov'''Any user, connecting from thomas.loc.gov
'%''fred'fred, connecting from any host
'%'''Any user, connecting from any host
'%.loc.gov''fred'fred, connecting from any host in the loc.gov domain
'x.y.%''fred'fred, connecting from x.y.net, x.y.com, x.y.edu, and so on; this is probably not useful
'144.155.166.177''fred'fred, connecting from the host with IP address 144.155.166.177
'144.155.166.%''fred'fred, connecting from any host in the 144.155.166 class C subnet
'144.155.166.0/255.255.255.0''fred'Same as previous example

It is possible for the client host name and user name of an incoming connection to match more than one row in the user table. The preceding set of examples demonstrates this: Several of the entries shown match a connection from thomas.loc.gov by fred.

When multiple matches are possible, the server must determine which of them to use. It resolves this issue as follows:

  • Whenever the server reads the user table into memory, it sorts the rows.

  • When a client attempts to connect, the server looks through the rows in sorted order.

  • The server uses the first row that matches the client host name and user name.

The server uses sorting rules that order rows with the most-specific Host values first. Literal host names and IP addresses are the most specific. (The specificity of a literal IP address is not affected by whether it has a netmask, so 192.168.1.13 and 192.168.1.0/255.255.255.0 are considered equally specific.) The pattern '%' means any host and is least specific. The empty string '' also means any host but sorts after '%'. Rows with the same Host value are ordered with the most-specific User values first (a blank User value means any user and is least specific).

To see how this works, suppose that the user table looks like this:

+-----------+----------+-
| Host      | User     | ...
+-----------+----------+-
| %         | root     | ...
| %         | jeffrey  | ...
| localhost | root     | ...
| localhost |          | ...
+-----------+----------+-

When the server reads the table into memory, it sorts the rows using the rules just described. The result after sorting looks like this:

+-----------+----------+-
| Host      | User     | ...
+-----------+----------+-
| localhost | root     | ...
| localhost |          | ...
| %         | jeffrey  | ...
| %         | root     | ...
+-----------+----------+-

When a client attempts to connect, the server looks through the sorted rows and uses the first match found. For a connection from localhost by jeffrey, two of the rows from the table match: the one with Host and User values of 'localhost' and '', and the one with values of '%' and 'jeffrey'. The 'localhost' row appears first in sorted order, so that is the one the server uses.

Here is another example. Suppose that the user table looks like this:

+----------------+----------+-
| Host           | User     | ...
+----------------+----------+-
| %              | jeffrey  | ...
| thomas.loc.gov |          | ...
+----------------+----------+-

The sorted table looks like this:

+----------------+----------+-
| Host           | User     | ...
+----------------+----------+-
| thomas.loc.gov |          | ...
| %              | jeffrey  | ...
+----------------+----------+-

A connection by jeffrey from thomas.loc.gov is matched by the first row, whereas a connection by jeffrey from any host is matched by the second.

Note

It is a common misconception to think that, for a given user name, all rows that explicitly name that user are used first when the server attempts to find a match for the connection. This is not true. The preceding example illustrates this, where a connection from thomas.loc.gov by jeffrey is first matched not by the row containing 'jeffrey' as the User column value, but by the row with no user name. As a result, jeffrey is authenticated as an anonymous user, even though he specified a user name when connecting.

If you are able to connect to the server, but your privileges are not what you expect, you probably are being authenticated as some other account. To find out what account the server used to authenticate you, use the CURRENT_USER() function. (See Section 12.14, “Information Functions”.) It returns a value in user_name@host_name format that indicates the User and Host values from the matching user table row. Suppose that jeffrey connects and issues the following query:

mysql> SELECT CURRENT_USER();
+----------------+
| CURRENT_USER() |
+----------------+
| @localhost     |
+----------------+

The result shown here indicates that the matching user table row had a blank User column value. In other words, the server is treating jeffrey as an anonymous user.

Another way to diagnose authentication problems is to print out the user table and sort it by hand to see where the first match is being made.

6.2.5. Access Control, Stage 2: Request Verification

After you establish a connection, the server enters Stage 2 of access control. For each request that you issue through that connection, the server determines what operation you want to perform, then checks whether you have sufficient privileges to do so. This is where the privilege columns in the grant tables come into play. These privileges can come from any of the user, db, host, tables_priv, columns_priv, or procs_priv tables. (You may find it helpful to refer to Section 6.2.2, “Privilege System Grant Tables”, which lists the columns present in each of the grant tables.)

The user table grants privileges that are assigned to you on a global basis and that apply no matter what the default database is. For example, if the user table grants you the DELETE privilege, you can delete rows from any table in any database on the server host! It is wise to grant privileges in the user table only to people who need them, such as database administrators. For other users, you should leave all privileges in the user table set to 'N' and grant privileges at more specific levels only. You can grant privileges for particular databases, tables, columns, or routines.

The db and host tables grant database-specific privileges. Values in the scope columns of these tables can take the following forms:

  • A blank User value in the db table matches the anonymous user. A nonblank value matches literally; there are no wildcards in user names.

  • The wildcard characters % and _ can be used in the Host and Db columns of either table. These have the same meaning as for pattern-matching operations performed with the LIKE operator. If you want to use either character literally when granting privileges, you must escape it with a backslash. For example, to include the underscore character (_) as part of a database name, specify it as \_ in the GRANT statement.

  • A '%' Host value in the db table means any host. A blank Host value in the db table means consult the host table for further information (a process that is described later in this section).

  • A '%' or blank Host value in the host table means any host.

  • A '%' or blank Db value in either table means any database.

The server reads the db and host tables into memory and sorts them at the same time that it reads the user table. The server sorts the db table based on the Host, Db, and User scope columns, and sorts the host table based on the Host and Db scope columns. As with the user table, sorting puts the most-specific values first and least-specific values last, and when the server looks for matching entries, it uses the first match that it finds.

The tables_priv, columns_priv, and procs_priv tables grant table-specific, column-specific, and routine-specific privileges. Values in the scope columns of these tables can take the following forms:

  • The wildcard characters % and _ can be used in the Host column. These have the same meaning as for pattern-matching operations performed with the LIKE operator.

  • A '%' or blank Host value means any host.

  • The Db, Table_name, Column_name, and Routine_name columns cannot contain wildcards or be blank.

The server sorts the tables_priv, columns_priv, and procs_priv tables based on the Host, Db, and User columns. This is similar to db table sorting, but simpler because only the Host column can contain wildcards.

The server uses the sorted tables to verify each request that it receives. For requests that require administrative privileges such as SHUTDOWN or RELOAD, the server checks only the user table row because that is the only table that specifies administrative privileges. The server grants access if the row permits the requested operation and denies access otherwise. For example, if you want to execute mysqladmin shutdown but your user table row does not grant the SHUTDOWN privilege to you, the server denies access without even checking the db or host tables. (They contain no Shutdown_priv column, so there is no need to do so.)

For database-related requests (INSERT, UPDATE, and so on), the server first checks the user's global privileges by looking in the user table row. If the row permits the requested operation, access is granted. If the global privileges in the user table are insufficient, the server determines the user's database-specific privileges by checking the db and host tables:

  1. The server looks in the db table for a match on the Host, Db, and User columns. The Host and User columns are matched to the connecting user's host name and MySQL user name. The Db column is matched to the database that the user wants to access. If there is no row for the Host and User, access is denied.

  2. If there is a matching db table row and its Host column is not blank, that row defines the user's database-specific privileges.

  3. If the matching db table row's Host column is blank, it signifies that the host table enumerates which hosts should be permitted access to the database. In this case, a further lookup is done in the host table to find a match on the Host and Db columns. If no host table row matches, access is denied. If there is a match, the user's database-specific privileges are computed as the intersection (not the union!) of the privileges in the db and host table entries; that is, the privileges that are 'Y' in both entries. (This way you can grant general privileges in the db table row and then selectively restrict them on a host-by-host basis using the host table entries.)

After determining the database-specific privileges granted by the db and host table entries, the server adds them to the global privileges granted by the user table. If the result permits the requested operation, access is granted. Otherwise, the server successively checks the user's table and column privileges in the tables_priv and columns_priv tables, adds those to the user's privileges, and permits or denies access based on the result. For stored-routine operations, the server uses the procs_priv table rather than tables_priv and columns_priv.

Expressed in boolean terms, the preceding description of how a user's privileges are calculated may be summarized like this:

global privileges
OR (database privileges AND host privileges)
OR table privileges
OR column privileges
OR routine privileges

It may not be apparent why, if the global user row privileges are initially found to be insufficient for the requested operation, the server adds those privileges to the database, table, and column privileges later. The reason is that a request might require more than one type of privilege. For example, if you execute an INSERT INTO ... SELECT statement, you need both the INSERT and the SELECT privileges. Your privileges might be such that the user table row grants one privilege and the db table row grants the other. In this case, you have the necessary privileges to perform the request, but the server cannot tell that from either table by itself; the privileges granted by the entries in both tables must be combined.

The host table is not affected by the GRANT or REVOKE statements, so it is unused in most MySQL installations. If you modify it directly, you can use it for some specialized purposes, such as to maintain a list of secure servers on the local network that are granted all privileges.

You can also use the host table to indicate hosts that are not secure. Suppose that you have a machine public.your.domain that is located in a public area that you do not consider secure. You can enable access to all hosts on your network except that machine by using host table entries like this:

+--------------------+----+-
| Host               | Db | ...
+--------------------+----+-
| public.your.domain | %  | ... (all privileges set to 'N')
| %.your.domain      | %  | ... (all privileges set to 'Y')
+--------------------+----+-

6.2.6. When Privilege Changes Take Effect

When mysqld starts, it reads all grant table contents into memory. The in-memory tables become effective for access control at that point.

If you modify the grant tables indirectly using account-management statements such as GRANT, REVOKE, SET PASSWORD, or RENAME USER, the server notices these changes and loads the grant tables into memory again immediately.

If you modify the grant tables directly using statements such as INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE, your changes have no effect on privilege checking until you either restart the server or tell it to reload the tables. If you change the grant tables directly but forget to reload them, your changes have no effect until you restart the server. This may leave you wondering why your changes seem to make no difference!

To tell the server to reload the grant tables, perform a flush-privileges operation. This can be done by issuing a FLUSH PRIVILEGES statement or by executing a mysqladmin flush-privileges or mysqladmin reload command.

A grant table reload affects privileges for each existing client connection as follows:

  • Table and column privilege changes take effect with the client's next request.

  • Database privilege changes take effect the next time the client executes a USE db_name statement.

    Note

    Client applications may cache the database name; thus, this effect may not be visible to them without actually changing to a different database or flushing the privileges.

  • Global privileges and passwords are unaffected for a connected client. These changes take effect only for subsequent connections.

If the server is started with the --skip-grant-tables option, it does not read the grant tables or implement any access control. Anyone can connect and do anything, which is insecure. To cause a server thus started to read the tables and enable access checking, flush the privileges.

6.2.7. Causes of Access-Denied Errors

If you encounter problems when you try to connect to the MySQL server, the following items describe some courses of action you can take to correct the problem.

  • Make sure that the server is running. If it is not, clients cannot connect to it. For example, if an attempt to connect to the server fails with a message such as one of those following, one cause might be that the server is not running:

    shell> mysql
    ERROR 2003: Can't connect to MySQL server on 'host_name' (111)
    shell> mysql
    ERROR 2002: Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket
    '/tmp/mysql.sock' (111)
    
  • It might be that the server is running, but you are trying to connect using a TCP/IP port, named pipe, or Unix socket file different from the one on which the server is listening. To correct this when you invoke a client program, specify a --port option to indicate the proper port number, or a --socket option to indicate the proper named pipe or Unix socket file. To find out where the socket file is, you can use this command:

    shell> netstat -ln | grep mysql
    
  • Make sure that the server has not been configured to ignore network connections or (if you are attempting to connect remotely) that it has not been configured to listen only locally on its network interfaces. If the server was started with --skip-networking, it will not accept TCP/IP connections at all. If the server was started with --bind-address=127.0.0.1, it will listen for TCP/IP connections only locally on the loopback interface and will not accept remote connections.

  • Check to make sure that there is no firewall blocking access to MySQL. Your firewall may be configured on the basis of the application being executed, or the port number used by MySQL for communication (3306 by default). Under Linux or Unix, check your IP tables (or similar) configuration to ensure that the port has not been blocked. Under Windows, applications such as ZoneAlarm or the Windows XP personal firewall may need to be configured not to block the MySQL port.

  • The grant tables must be properly set up so that the server can use them for access control. For some distribution types (such as binary distributions on Windows, or RPM distributions on Linux), the installation process initializes the mysql database containing the grant tables. For distributions that do not do this, you must initialize the grant tables manually by running the mysql_install_db script. For details, see Section 2.12.1, “Unix Postinstallation Procedures”.

    To determine whether you need to initialize the grant tables, look for a mysql directory under the data directory. (The data directory normally is named data or var and is located under your MySQL installation directory.) Make sure that you have a file named user.MYD in the mysql database directory. If not, execute the mysql_install_db script. After running this script and starting the server, test the initial privileges by executing this command:

    shell> mysql -u root test
    

    The server should let you connect without error.

  • After a fresh installation, you should connect to the server and set up your users and their access permissions:

    shell> mysql -u root mysql
    

    The server should let you connect because the MySQL root user has no password initially. That is also a security risk, so setting the password for the root accounts is something you should do while you're setting up your other MySQL accounts. For instructions on setting the initial passwords, see Section 2.12.2, “Securing the Initial MySQL Accounts”.

  • If you have updated an existing MySQL installation to a newer version, did you run the mysql_upgrade script? If not, do so. The structure of the grant tables changes occasionally when new capabilities are added, so after an upgrade you should always make sure that your tables have the current structure. For instructions, see Section 4.4.8, “mysql_upgrade — Check and Upgrade MySQL Tables”.

  • If a client program receives the following error message when it tries to connect, it means that the server expects passwords in a newer format than the client is capable of generating:

    shell> mysql
    Client does not support authentication protocol requested
    by server; consider upgrading MySQL client
    

    For information on how to deal with this, see Section 6.1.2.4, “Password Hashing in MySQL”, and Section C.5.2.4, “Client does not support authentication protocol.

  • Remember that client programs use connection parameters specified in option files or environment variables. If a client program seems to be sending incorrect default connection parameters when you have not specified them on the command line, check any applicable option files and your environment. For example, if you get Access denied when you run a client without any options, make sure that you have not specified an old password in any of your option files!

    You can suppress the use of option files by a client program by invoking it with the --no-defaults option. For example:

    shell> mysqladmin --no-defaults -u root version
    

    The option files that clients use are listed in Section 4.2.3.3, “Using Option Files”. Environment variables are listed in Section 2.14, “Environment Variables”.

  • If you get the following error, it means that you are using an incorrect root password:

    shell> mysqladmin -u root -pxxxx ver
    Access denied for user 'root'@'localhost' (using password: YES)
    

    If the preceding error occurs even when you have not specified a password, it means that you have an incorrect password listed in some option file. Try the --no-defaults option as described in the previous item.

    For information on changing passwords, see Section 6.3.5, “Assigning Account Passwords”.

    If you have lost or forgotten the root password, see Section C.5.4.1, “How to Reset the Root Password”.

  • If you change a password by using SET PASSWORD, INSERT, or UPDATE, you must encrypt the password using the PASSWORD() function. If you do not use PASSWORD() for these statements, the password will not work. For example, the following statement assigns a password, but fails to encrypt it, so the user is not able to connect afterward:

    SET PASSWORD FOR 'abe'@'host_name' = 'eagle';
    

    Instead, set the password like this:

    SET PASSWORD FOR 'abe'@'host_name' = PASSWORD('eagle');
    

    The PASSWORD() function is unnecessary when you specify a password using the CREATE USER or GRANT statements or the mysqladmin password command. Each of those automatically uses PASSWORD() to encrypt the password. See Section 6.3.5, “Assigning Account Passwords”, and Section 13.7.1.1, “CREATE USER Syntax”.

  • localhost is a synonym for your local host name, and is also the default host to which clients try to connect if you specify no host explicitly.

    To avoid this problem on such systems, you can use a --host=127.0.0.1 option to name the server host explicitly. This will make a TCP/IP connection to the local mysqld server. You can also use TCP/IP by specifying a --host option that uses the actual host name of the local host. In this case, the host name must be specified in a user table row on the server host, even though you are running the client program on the same host as the server.

  • The Access denied error message tells you who you are trying to log in as, the client host from which you are trying to connect, and whether you were using a password. Normally, you should have one row in the user table that exactly matches the host name and user name that were given in the error message. For example, if you get an error message that contains using password: NO, it means that you tried to log in without a password.

  • If you get an Access denied error when trying to connect to the database with mysql -u user_name, you may have a problem with the user table. Check this by executing mysql -u root mysql and issuing this SQL statement:

    SELECT * FROM user;

    The result should include a row with the Host and User columns matching your client's host name and your MySQL user name.

  • If the following error occurs when you try to connect from a host other than the one on which the MySQL server is running, it means that there is no row in the user table with a Host value that matches the client host:

    Host ... is not allowed to connect to this MySQL server

    You can fix this by setting up an account for the combination of client host name and user name that you are using when trying to connect.

    If you do not know the IP address or host name of the machine from which you are connecting, you should put a row with '%' as the Host column value in the user table. After trying to connect from the client machine, use a SELECT USER() query to see how you really did connect. Then change the '%' in the user table row to the actual host name that shows up in the log. Otherwise, your system is left insecure because it permits connections from any host for the given user name.

    On Linux, another reason that this error might occur is that you are using a binary MySQL version that is compiled with a different version of the glibc library than the one you are using. In this case, you should either upgrade your operating system or glibc, or download a source distribution of MySQL version and compile it yourself. A source RPM is normally trivial to compile and install, so this is not a big problem.

  • If you specify a host name when trying to connect, but get an error message where the host name is not shown or is an IP address, it means that the MySQL server got an error when trying to resolve the IP address of the client host to a name:

    shell> mysqladmin -u root -pxxxx -h some_hostname ver
    Access denied for user 'root'@'' (using password: YES)
    

    If you try to connect as root and get the following error, it means that you do not have a row in the user table with a User column value of 'root' and that mysqld cannot resolve the host name for your client:

    Access denied for user ''@'unknown'

    These errors indicate a DNS problem. To fix it, execute mysqladmin flush-hosts to reset the internal DNS host cache. See Section 8.9.8, “DNS Lookup Optimization and the Host Cache”.

    Some permanent solutions are:

    • Determine what is wrong with your DNS server and fix it.

    • Specify IP addresses rather than host names in the MySQL grant tables.

    • Put an entry for the client machine name in /etc/hosts on Unix or \windows\hosts on Windows.

    • Start mysqld with the --skip-name-resolve option.

    • Start mysqld with the --skip-host-cache option.

    • On Unix, if you are running the server and the client on the same machine, connect to localhost. Unix connections to localhost use a Unix socket file rather than TCP/IP.

    • On Windows, if you are running the server and the client on the same machine and the server supports named pipe connections, connect to the host name . (period). Connections to . use a named pipe rather than TCP/IP.

  • If mysql -u root test works but mysql -h your_hostname -u root test results in Access denied (where your_hostname is the actual host name of the local host), you may not have the correct name for your host in the user table. A common problem here is that the Host value in the user table row specifies an unqualified host name, but your system's name resolution routines return a fully qualified domain name (or vice versa). For example, if you have an entry with host 'pluto' in the user table, but your DNS tells MySQL that your host name is 'pluto.example.com', the entry does not work. Try adding an entry to the user table that contains the IP address of your host as the Host column value. (Alternatively, you could add an entry to the user table with a Host value that contains a wildcard; for example, 'pluto.%'. However, use of Host values ending with % is insecure and is not recommended!)

  • If mysql -u user_name test works but mysql -u user_name other_db does not, you have not granted access to the given user for the database named other_db.

  • If mysql -u user_name works when executed on the server host, but mysql -h host_name -u user_name does not work when executed on a remote client host, you have not enabled access to the server for the given user name from the remote host.

  • If you cannot figure out why you get Access denied, remove from the user table all entries that have Host values containing wildcards (entries that contain '%' or '_' characters). A very common error is to insert a new entry with Host='%' and User='some_user', thinking that this enables you to specify localhost to connect from the same machine. The reason that this does not work is that the default privileges include an entry with Host='localhost' and User=''. Because that entry has a Host value 'localhost' that is more specific than '%', it is used in preference to the new entry when connecting from localhost! The correct procedure is to insert a second entry with Host='localhost' and User='some_user', or to delete the entry with Host='localhost' and User=''. After deleting the entry, remember to issue a FLUSH PRIVILEGES statement to reload the grant tables. See also Section 6.2.4, “Access Control, Stage 1: Connection Verification”.

  • If you are able to connect to the MySQL server, but get an Access denied message whenever you issue a SELECT ... INTO OUTFILE or LOAD DATA INFILE statement, your entry in the user table does not have the FILE privilege enabled.

  • If you change the grant tables directly (for example, by using INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE statements) and your changes seem to be ignored, remember that you must execute a FLUSH PRIVILEGES statement or a mysqladmin flush-privileges command to cause the server to reload the privilege tables. Otherwise, your changes have no effect until the next time the server is restarted. Remember that after you change the root password with an UPDATE statement, you will not need to specify the new password until after you flush the privileges, because the server will not know you've changed the password yet!

  • If your privileges seem to have changed in the middle of a session, it may be that a MySQL administrator has changed them. Reloading the grant tables affects new client connections, but it also affects existing connections as indicated in Section 6.2.6, “When Privilege Changes Take Effect”.

  • If you have access problems with a Perl, PHP, Python, or ODBC program, try to connect to the server with mysql -u user_name db_name or mysql -u user_name -pyour_pass db_name. If you are able to connect using the mysql client, the problem lies with your program, not with the access privileges. (There is no space between -p and the password; you can also use the --password=your_pass syntax to specify the password. If you use the -p or --password option with no password value, MySQL prompts you for the password.)

  • For testing purposes, start the mysqld server with the --skip-grant-tables option. Then you can change the MySQL grant tables and use the mysqlaccess script to check whether your modifications have the desired effect. When you are satisfied with your changes, execute mysqladmin flush-privileges to tell the mysqld server to reload the privileges. This enables you to begin using the new grant table contents without stopping and restarting the server.

  • If you get the following error, you may have a problem with the db or host table:

    Access to database denied

    If the entry selected from the db table has an empty value in the Host column, make sure that there are one or more corresponding entries in the host table specifying which hosts the db table entry applies to. This problem occurs infrequently because the host table is rarely used.

  • If everything else fails, start the mysqld server with a debugging option (for example, --debug=d,general,query). This prints host and user information about attempted connections, as well as information about each command issued. See MySQL Internals: Porting to Other Systems.

  • If you have any other problems with the MySQL grant tables and feel you must post the problem to the mailing list, always provide a dump of the MySQL grant tables. You can dump the tables with the mysqldump mysql command. To file a bug report, see the instructions at Section 1.7, “How to Report Bugs or Problems”. In some cases, you may need to restart mysqld with --skip-grant-tables to run mysqldump.

6.3. MySQL User Account Management

This section describes how to set up accounts for clients of your MySQL server. It discusses the following topics:

  • The meaning of account names and passwords as used in MySQL and how that compares to names and passwords used by your operating system

  • How to set up new accounts and remove existing accounts

  • How to change passwords

  • Guidelines for using passwords securely

  • How to use secure connections with SSL

See also Section 13.7.1, “Account Management Statements”, which describes the syntax and use for all user-management SQL statements.

6.3.1. User Names and Passwords

MySQL stores accounts in the user table of the mysql database. An account is defined in terms of a user name and the client host or hosts from which the user can connect to the server. The account may also have a password. For information about account representation in the user table, see Section 6.2.2, “Privilege System Grant Tables”.

There are several distinctions between the way user names and passwords are used by MySQL and the way they are used by your operating system:

  • User names, as used by MySQL for authentication purposes, have nothing to do with user names (login names) as used by Windows or Unix. On Unix, most MySQL clients by default try to log in using the current Unix user name as the MySQL user name, but that is for convenience only. The default can be overridden easily, because client programs permit any user name to be specified with a -u or --user option. Because this means that anyone can attempt to connect to the server using any user name, you cannot make a database secure in any way unless all MySQL accounts have passwords. Anyone who specifies a user name for an account that has no password is able to connect successfully to the server.

  • MySQL user names can be up to 16 characters long. Operating system user names, because they are completely unrelated to MySQL user names, may be of a different maximum length. For example, Unix user names typically are limited to eight characters.

    Warning

    The limit on MySQL user name length is hard-coded in the MySQL servers and clients, and trying to circumvent it by modifying the definitions of the tables in the mysql database does not work.

    You should never alter any of the tables in the mysql database in any manner whatsoever except by means of the procedure that is described in Section 4.4.8, “mysql_upgrade — Check and Upgrade MySQL Tables”. Attempting to redefine MySQL's system tables in any other fashion results in undefined (and unsupported!) behavior.

  • The server uses MySQL passwords stored in the user table to authenticate client connections using MySQL built-in authentication. These passwords have nothing to do with passwords for logging in to your operating system. There is no necessary connection between the external password you use to log in to a Windows or Unix machine and the password you use to access the MySQL server on that machine.

  • MySQL encrypts passwords stored in the user table using its own algorithm. This encryption is the same as that implemented by the PASSWORD() SQL function but differs from that used during the Unix login process. Unix password encryption is the same as that implemented by the ENCRYPT() SQL function. See the descriptions of the PASSWORD() and ENCRYPT() functions in Section 12.13, “Encryption and Compression Functions”.

    From version 4.1 on, MySQL employs a stronger authentication method that has better password protection during the connection process than in earlier versions. It is secure even if TCP/IP packets are sniffed or the mysql database is captured. (In earlier versions, even though passwords are stored in encrypted form in the user table, knowledge of the encrypted password value could be used to connect to the MySQL server.) Section 6.1.2.4, “Password Hashing in MySQL”, discusses password encryption further.

  • It is possible to connect to the server regardless of character set settings if the user name and password contain only ASCII characters. To connect when the user name or password contain non-ASCII characters, the client should call the mysql_options() C API function with the MYSQL_SET_CHARSET_NAME option and appropriate character set name as arguments. This causes authentication to take place using the specified character set. Otherwise, authentication will fail unless the server default character set is the same as the encoding in the authentication defaults.

    Standard MySQL client programs support a --default-character-set option that causes mysql_options() to be called as just described. For programs that use a connector that is not based on the C API, the connector may provide an equivalent to mysql_options() that can be used instead. Check the connector documentation.

    The preceding notes do not apply for ucs2, which is not permitted as a client character set.

When you install MySQL, the grant tables are populated with an initial set of accounts. The names and access privileges for these accounts are described in Section 2.12.2, “Securing the Initial MySQL Accounts”, which also discusses how to assign passwords to them. Thereafter, you normally set up, modify, and remove MySQL accounts using statements such as CREATE USER, GRANT, and REVOKE. See Section 13.7.1, “Account Management Statements”.

When you connect to a MySQL server with a command-line client, specify the user name and password as necessary for the account that you want to use:

shell> mysql --user=monty --password=password db_name

If you prefer short options, the command looks like this:

shell> mysql -u monty -ppassword db_name

There must be no space between the -p option and the following password value.

If you omit the password value following the --password or -p option on the command line, the client prompts for one.

Specifying a password on the command line should be considered insecure. See Section 6.1.2.1, “End-User Guidelines for Password Security”. You can use an option file to avoid giving the password on the command line.

For additional information about specifying user names, passwords, and other connection parameters, see Section 4.2.2, “Connecting to the MySQL Server”.

6.3.2. Adding User Accounts

You can create MySQL accounts in two ways:

  • By using statements intended for creating accounts, such as CREATE USER or GRANT. These statements cause the server to make appropriate modifications to the grant tables.

  • By manipulating the MySQL grant tables directly with statements such as INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE.

The preferred method is to use account-creation statements because they are more concise and less error-prone than manipulating the grant tables directly. CREATE USER and GRANT are described in Section 13.7.1, “Account Management Statements”.

Another option for creating accounts is to use the GUI tool MySQL Workbench. Or one of several available third-party programs that offer capabilities for MySQL account administration. phpMyAdmin is one such program.

The following examples show how to use the mysql client program to set up new accounts. These examples assume that privileges have been set up according to the defaults described in Section 2.12.2, “Securing the Initial MySQL Accounts”. This means that to make changes, you must connect to the MySQL server as the MySQL root user, and the root account must have the INSERT privilege for the mysql database and the RELOAD administrative privilege.

As noted in the examples where appropriate, some of the statements will fail if the server's SQL mode has been set to enable certain restrictions. In particular, strict mode (STRICT_TRANS_TABLES, STRICT_ALL_TABLES) and NO_AUTO_CREATE_USER will prevent the server from accepting some of the statements. Workarounds are indicated for these cases. For more information about SQL modes and their effect on grant table manipulation, see Section 5.1.7, “Server SQL Modes”, and Section 13.7.1.3, “GRANT Syntax”.

First, use the mysql program to connect to the server as the MySQL root user:

shell> mysql --user=root mysql

If you have assigned a password to the root account, you will also need to supply a --password or -p option, both for this mysql command and for those later in this section.

After connecting to the server as root, you can add new accounts. The following statements use GRANT to set up four new accounts:

mysql> CREATE USER 'monty'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'some_pass';
mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* TO 'monty'@'localhost'
    ->     WITH GRANT OPTION;
mysql> CREATE USER 'monty'@'%' IDENTIFIED BY 'some_pass';
mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* TO 'monty'@'%'
    ->     WITH GRANT OPTION;
mysql> CREATE USER 'admin'@'localhost';
mysql> GRANT RELOAD,PROCESS ON *.* TO 'admin'@'localhost';
mysql> CREATE USER 'dummy'@'localhost';

The accounts created by these statements have the following properties:

  • Two of the accounts have a user name of monty and a password of some_pass. Both accounts are superuser accounts with full privileges to do anything. The 'monty'@'localhost' account can be used only when connecting from the local host. The 'monty'@'%' account uses the '%' wildcard for the host part, so it can be used to connect from any host.

    It is necessary to have both accounts for monty to be able to connect from anywhere as monty. Without the localhost account, the anonymous-user account for localhost that is created by mysql_install_db would take precedence when monty connects from the local host. As a result, monty would be treated as an anonymous user. The reason for this is that the anonymous-user account has a more specific Host column value than the 'monty'@'%' account and thus comes earlier in the user table sort order. (user table sorting is discussed in Section 6.2.4, “Access Control, Stage 1: Connection Verification”.)

  • The 'admin'@'localhost' account has no password. This account can be used only by admin to connect from the local host. It is granted the RELOAD and PROCESS administrative privileges. These privileges enable the admin user to execute the mysqladmin reload, mysqladmin refresh, and mysqladmin flush-xxx commands, as well as mysqladmin processlist . No privileges are granted for accessing any databases. You could add such privileges later by issuing other GRANT statements.

  • The 'dummy'@'localhost' account has no password. This account can be used only to connect from the local host. No privileges are granted. It is assumed that you will grant specific privileges to the account later.

The statements that create accounts with no password will fail if the NO_AUTO_CREATE_USER SQL mode is enabled. To deal with this, use an IDENTIFIED BY clause that specifies a nonempty password.

To check the privileges for an account, use SHOW GRANTS:

mysql> SHOW GRANTS FOR 'admin'@'localhost';
+-----------------------------------------------------+
| Grants for admin@localhost                          |
+-----------------------------------------------------+
| GRANT RELOAD, PROCESS ON *.* TO 'admin'@'localhost' |
+-----------------------------------------------------+

As an alternative to CREATE USER and GRANT, you can create the same accounts directly by issuing INSERT statements and then telling the server to reload the grant tables using FLUSH PRIVILEGES:

shell> mysql --user=root mysql
mysql> INSERT INTO user
    ->     VALUES('localhost','monty',PASSWORD('some_pass'),
    ->     'Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y');
mysql> INSERT INTO user
    ->     VALUES('%','monty',PASSWORD('some_pass'),
    ->     'Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y',
    ->     'Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y',
    ->     '','','','',0,0,0,0);
mysql> INSERT INTO user SET Host='localhost',User='admin',
    ->     Reload_priv='Y', Process_priv='Y';
mysql> INSERT INTO user (Host,User,Password)
    ->     VALUES('localhost','dummy','');
mysql> FLUSH PRIVILEGES;

When you create accounts with INSERT, it is necessary to use FLUSH PRIVILEGES to tell the server to reload the grant tables. Otherwise, the changes go unnoticed until you restart the server. With CREATE USER, FLUSH PRIVILEGES is unnecessary.

The reason for using the PASSWORD() function with INSERT is to encrypt the password. The CREATE USER statement encrypts the password for you, so PASSWORD() is unnecessary.

The 'Y' values enable privileges for the accounts. Depending on your MySQL version, you may have to use a different number of 'Y' values in the first two INSERT statements. The INSERT statement for the admin account employs the more readable extended INSERT syntax using SET.

In the INSERT statement for the dummy account, only the Host, User, and Password columns in the user table row are assigned values. None of the privilege columns are set explicitly, so MySQL assigns them all the default value of 'N'. This is equivalent to what CREATE USER does.

If strict SQL mode is enabled, all columns that have no default value must have a value specified. In this case, INSERT statements must explicitly specify values for the ssl_cipher, x509_issuer, and x509_subject columns.

To set up a superuser account, it is necessary only to insert a user table row with all privilege columns set to 'Y'. The user table privileges are global, so no entries in any of the other grant tables are needed.

The next examples create three accounts and give them access to specific databases. Each of them has a user name of custom and password of obscure.

To create the accounts with CREATE USER and GRANT, use the following statements:

shell> mysql --user=root mysql
mysql> CREATE USER 'custom'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'obscure';
mysql> GRANT SELECT,INSERT,UPDATE,DELETE,CREATE,DROP
    ->     ON bankaccount.*
    ->     TO 'custom'@'localhost';
mysql> CREATE USER 'custom'@'host47.example.com' IDENTIFIED BY 'obscure';
mysql> GRANT SELECT,INSERT,UPDATE,DELETE,CREATE,DROP
    ->     ON expenses.*
    ->     TO 'custom'@'host47.example.com';
mysql> CREATE USER 'custom'@'server.domain' IDENTIFIED BY 'obscure';
mysql> GRANT SELECT,INSERT,UPDATE,DELETE,CREATE,DROP
    ->     ON customer.*
    ->     TO 'custom'@'server.domain';

The three accounts can be used as follows:

  • The first account can access the bankaccount database, but only from the local host.

  • The second account can access the expenses database, but only from the host host47.example.com.

  • The third account can access the customer database, but only from the host server.domain.

To set up the custom accounts without GRANT, use INSERT statements as follows to modify the grant tables directly:

shell> mysql --user=root mysql
mysql> INSERT INTO user (Host,User,Password)
    ->     VALUES('localhost','custom',PASSWORD('obscure'));
mysql> INSERT INTO user (Host,User,Password)
    ->     VALUES('host47.example.com','custom',PASSWORD('obscure'));
mysql> INSERT INTO user (Host,User,Password)
    ->     VALUES('server.domain','custom',PASSWORD('obscure'));
mysql> INSERT INTO db
    ->     (Host,Db,User,Select_priv,Insert_priv,
    ->     Update_priv,Delete_priv,Create_priv,Drop_priv)
    ->     VALUES('localhost','bankaccount','custom',
    ->     'Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y');
mysql> INSERT INTO db
    ->     (Host,Db,User,Select_priv,Insert_priv,
    ->     Update_priv,Delete_priv,Create_priv,Drop_priv)
    ->     VALUES('host47.example.com','expenses','custom',
    ->     'Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y');
mysql> INSERT INTO db
    ->     (Host,Db,User,Select_priv,Insert_priv,
    ->     Update_priv,Delete_priv,Create_priv,Drop_priv)
    ->     VALUES('server.domain','customer','custom',
    ->     'Y','Y','Y','Y','Y','Y');
mysql> FLUSH PRIVILEGES;

The first three INSERT statements add user table entries that permit the user custom to connect from the various hosts with the given password, but grant no global privileges (all privileges are set to the default value of 'N'). The next three INSERT statements add db table entries that grant privileges to custom for the bankaccount, expenses, and customer databases, but only when accessed from the proper hosts. As usual when you modify the grant tables directly, you must tell the server to reload them with FLUSH PRIVILEGES so that the privilege changes take effect.

To create a user who has access from all machines in a given domain (for example, mydomain.com), you can use the % wildcard character in the host part of the account name:

mysql> CREATE USER 'myname'@'%.mydomain.com' IDENTIFIED BY 'mypass';

To do the same thing by modifying the grant tables directly, do this:

mysql> INSERT INTO user (Host,User,Password,...)
    ->     VALUES('%.mydomain.com','myname',PASSWORD('mypass'),...);
mysql> FLUSH PRIVILEGES;

6.3.3. Removing User Accounts

To remove an account, use the DROP USER statement, which is described in Section 13.7.1.2, “DROP USER Syntax”.

6.3.4. Setting Account Resource Limits

One means of limiting use of MySQL server resources is to set the global max_user_connections system variable to a nonzero value. This limits the number of simultaneous connections that can be made by any given account, but places no limits on what a client can do once connected. In addition, setting max_user_connections does not enable management of individual accounts. Both types of control are of interest to many MySQL administrators, particularly those working for Internet Service Providers.

In MySQL 5.1, you can limit use of the following server resources for individual accounts:

  • The number of queries that an account can issue per hour

  • The number of updates that an account can issue per hour

  • The number of times an account can connect to the server per hour

  • The number of simultaneous connections to the server by an account

Any statement that a client can issue counts against the query limit (unless its results are served from the query cache). Only statements that modify databases or tables count against the update limit.

An account in this context corresponds to a row in the mysql.user table. That is, a connection is assessed against the User and Host values in the user table row that applies to the connection. For example, an account 'usera'@'%.example.com' corresponds to a row in the user table that has User and Host values of usera and %.example.com, to permit usera to connect from any host in the example.com domain. In this case, the server applies resource limits in this row collectively to all connections by usera from any host in the example.com domain because all such connections use the same account.

Before MySQL 5.0.3, an account was assessed against the actual host from which a user connects. This older method accounting may be selected by starting the server with the --old-style-user-limits option. In this case, if usera connects simultaneously from host1.example.com and host2.example.com, the server applies the account resource limits separately to each connection. If usera connects again from host1.example.com, the server applies the limits for that connection together with the existing connection from that host.

To set resource limits for an account, use the GRANT statement (see Section 13.7.1.3, “GRANT Syntax”). Provide a WITH clause that names each resource to be limited. The default value for each limit is zero (no limit). For example, to create a new account that can access the customer database, but only in a limited fashion, issue these statements:

mysql> CREATE USER 'francis'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'frank';
mysql> GRANT ALL ON customer.* TO 'francis'@'localhost'
    ->     WITH MAX_QUERIES_PER_HOUR 20
    ->          MAX_UPDATES_PER_HOUR 10
    ->          MAX_CONNECTIONS_PER_HOUR 5
    ->          MAX_USER_CONNECTIONS 2;

The limit types need not all be named in the WITH clause, but those named can be present in any order. The value for each per-hour limit should be an integer representing a count per hour. For MAX_USER_CONNECTIONS, the limit is an integer representing the maximum number of simultaneous connections by the account. If this limit is set to zero, the global max_user_connections system variable value determines the number of simultaneous connections. If max_user_connections is also zero, there is no limit for the account.

To modify existing limits for an account, use a GRANT USAGE statement at the global level (ON *.*). The following statement changes the query limit for francis to 100:

mysql> GRANT USAGE ON *.* TO 'francis'@'localhost'
    ->     WITH MAX_QUERIES_PER_HOUR 100;

The statement modifies only the limit value specified and leaves the account otherwise unchanged.

To remove a limit, set its value to zero. For example, to remove the limit on how many times per hour francis can connect, use this statement:

mysql> GRANT USAGE ON *.* TO 'francis'@'localhost'
    ->     WITH MAX_CONNECTIONS_PER_HOUR 0;

As mentioned previously, the simultaneous-connection limit for an account is determined from the MAX_USER_CONNECTIONS limit and the max_user_connections system variable. Suppose that the global max_user_connections value is 10 and three accounts have resource limits specified with GRANT:

GRANT ... TO 'user1'@'localhost' WITH MAX_USER_CONNECTIONS 0;
GRANT ... TO 'user2'@'localhost' WITH MAX_USER_CONNECTIONS 5;
GRANT ... TO 'user3'@'localhost' WITH MAX_USER_CONNECTIONS 20;

user1 has a connection limit of 10 (the global max_user_connections value) because it has a zero MAX_USER_CONNECTIONS limit). user2 and user3 have connection limits of 5 and 20, respectively, because they have nonzero MAX_USER_CONNECTIONS limits.

The server stores resource limits for an account in the user table row corresponding to the account. The max_questions, max_updates, and max_connections columns store the per-hour limits, and the max_user_connections column stores the MAX_USER_CONNECTIONS limit. (See Section 6.2.2, “Privilege System Grant Tables”.) If your user table does not have these columns, it must be upgraded; see Section 4.4.8, “mysql_upgrade — Check and Upgrade MySQL Tables”.

Resource-use counting takes place when any account has a nonzero limit placed on its use of any of the resources.

As the server runs, it counts the number of times each account uses resources. If an account reaches its limit on number of connections within the last hour, further connections for the account are rejected until that hour is up. Similarly, if the account reaches its limit on the number of queries or updates, further queries or updates are rejected until the hour is up. In all such cases, an appropriate error message is issued.

Resource counting is done per account, not per client. For example, if your account has a query limit of 50, you cannot increase your limit to 100 by making two simultaneous client connections to the server. Queries issued on both connections are counted together.

The current per-hour resource-use counts can be reset globally for all accounts, or individually for a given account:

  • To reset the current counts to zero for all accounts, issue a FLUSH USER_RESOURCES statement. The counts also can be reset by reloading the grant tables (for example, with a FLUSH PRIVILEGES statement or a mysqladmin reload command).

  • The counts for an individual account can be set to zero by re-granting it any of its limits. To do this, use GRANT USAGE as described earlier and specify a limit value equal to the value that the account currently has.

Counter resets do not affect the MAX_USER_CONNECTIONS limit.

All counts begin at zero when the server starts; counts are not carried over through a restart.

For the MAX_USER_CONNECTIONS limit, an edge case can occur if the account currently has open the maximum number of connections permitted to it: A disconnect followed quickly by a connect can result in an error (ER_TOO_MANY_USER_CONNECTIONS or ER_USER_LIMIT_REACHED) if the server has not fully processed the disconnect by the time the connect occurs. When the server finishes disconnect processing, another connection will once more be permitted.

6.3.5. Assigning Account Passwords

Required credentials for clients that connect to the MySQL server can include a password. This section describes how to assign passwords for MySQL accounts.

To assign a password when you create a new account with CREATE USER, include an IDENTIFIED BY clause:

mysql> CREATE USER 'jeffrey'@'localhost'
    -> IDENTIFIED BY 'mypass';

To assign or change a password for an existing account, one way is to issue a SET PASSWORD statement:

mysql> SET PASSWORD FOR
    -> 'jeffrey'@'localhost' = PASSWORD('mypass');

MySQL stores passwords in the user table in the mysql database. Only users such as root that have update access to the mysql database can change the password for other users. If you are not connected as an anonymous user, you can change your own password by omitting the FOR clause:

mysql> SET PASSWORD = PASSWORD('mypass');

The old_passwords system variable value determines the hashing method used by PASSWORD(). If you specify the password using that function and SET PASSWORD rejects the password as not being in the correct format, it may be necessary to set old_passwords to change the hashing method. For descriptions of the permitted values, see Section 5.1.4, “Server System Variables”.

In MySQL 5.1, enabling the read_only system variable prevents the use of the SET PASSWORD statement by any user not having the SUPER privilege.

You can also use a GRANT USAGE statement at the global level (ON *.*) to assign a password to an account without affecting the account's current privileges:

mysql> GRANT USAGE ON *.* TO 'jeffrey'@'localhost'
    -> IDENTIFIED BY 'mypass';

To assign a password from the command line, use the mysqladmin command:

shell> mysqladmin -u user_name -h host_name password "newpwd"

The account for which this command sets the password is the one with a user table row that matches user_name in the User column and the client host from which you connect in the Host column.

During authentication when a client connects to the server, MySQL treats the password in the user table as an encrypted hash value (the value that PASSWORD() would return for the password). When assigning a password to an account, it is important to store an encrypted value, not the plaintext password. Use the following guidelines:

  • When you assign a password using CREATE USER, GRANT with an IDENTIFIED BY clause, or the mysqladmin password command, they encrypt the password for you. Specify the literal plaintext password:

    mysql> CREATE USER 'jeffrey'@'localhost'
        -> IDENTIFIED BY 'mypass';
    
  • For CREATE USER or GRANT, you can avoid sending the plaintext password if you know the hash value that PASSWORD() would return for the password. Specify the hash value preceded by the keyword PASSWORD:

    mysql> CREATE USER 'jeffrey'@'localhost'
        -> IDENTIFIED BY PASSWORD '*90E462C37378CED12064BB3388827D2BA3A9B689';
    
  • When you assign an account a nonempty password using SET PASSWORD, you must use the PASSWORD() function to encrypt the password, otherwise the password is stored as plaintext. Suppose that you assign a password like this:

    mysql> SET PASSWORD FOR
        -> 'jeffrey'@'localhost' = 'mypass';
    

    The result is that the literal value 'mypass' is stored as the password in the user table, not the encrypted value. When jeffrey attempts to connect to the server using this password, the value is encrypted and compared to the value stored in the user table. However, the stored value is the literal string 'mypass', so the comparison fails and the server rejects the connection with an Access denied error.

Note

PASSWORD() encryption differs from Unix password encryption. See Section 6.3.1, “User Names and Passwords”.

It is preferable to assign passwords using SET PASSWORD, GRANT, or mysqladmin, but it is also possible to modify the user table directly. In this case, you must also use FLUSH PRIVILEGES to cause the server to reread the grant tables. Otherwise, the change remains unnoticed by the server until you restart it.

  • To establish a password for a new account, provide a value for the Password column:

    mysql> INSERT INTO mysql.user (Host,User,Password)
        -> VALUES('localhost','jeffrey',PASSWORD('mypass'));
    mysql> FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
    
  • To change the password for an existing account, use UPDATE to set the Password column value:

    mysql> UPDATE mysql.user SET Password = PASSWORD('bagel')
        -> WHERE Host = 'localhost' AND User = 'francis';
    mysql> FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
    

6.3.6. Using SSL for Secure Connections

MySQL supports secure (encrypted) connections between MySQL clients and the server using the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol. This section discusses how to use SSL connections. For information on how to require users to use SSL connections, see the discussion of the REQUIRE clause of the GRANT statement in Section 13.7.1.3, “GRANT Syntax”.

The standard configuration of MySQL is intended to be as fast as possible, so encrypted connections are not used by default. For applications that require the security provided by encrypted connections, the extra computation to encrypt the data is worthwhile.

MySQL enables encryption on a per-connection basis. You can choose an unencrypted connection or a secure encrypted SSL connection according the requirements of individual applications.

Secure connections are based on the OpenSSL API and are available through the MySQL C API. Replication uses the C API, so secure connections can be used between master and slave servers. See Section 16.3.7, “Setting Up Replication Using SSL”.

Another way to connect securely is from within an SSH connection to the MySQL server host. For an example, see Section 6.3.7, “Connecting to MySQL Remotely from Windows with SSH”.

6.3.6.1. Basic SSL Concepts

To understand how MySQL uses SSL, it is necessary to explain some basic SSL and X509 concepts. People who are familiar with these concepts can skip this part of the discussion.

By default, MySQL uses unencrypted connections between the client and the server. This means that someone with access to the network could watch all your traffic and look at the data being sent or received. They could even change the data while it is in transit between client and server. To improve security a little, you can compress client/server traffic by using the --compress option when invoking client programs. However, this does not foil a determined attacker.

When you need to move information over a network in a secure fashion, an unencrypted connection is unacceptable. Encryption is the way to make any kind of data unreadable. Encryption algorithms must include security elements to resist many kinds of known attacks such as changing the order of encrypted messages or replaying data twice.

SSL is a protocol that uses different encryption algorithms to ensure that data received over a public network can be trusted. It has mechanisms to detect any data change, loss, or replay. SSL also incorporates algorithms that provide identity verification using the X509 standard.

X509 makes it possible to identify someone on the Internet. It is most commonly used in e-commerce applications. In basic terms, there should be some entity called a Certificate Authority (or CA) that assigns electronic certificates to anyone who needs them. Certificates rely on asymmetric encryption algorithms that have two encryption keys (a public key and a secret key). A certificate owner can show the certificate to another party as proof of identity. A certificate consists of its owner's public key. Any data encrypted with this public key can be decrypted only using the corresponding secret key, which is held by the owner of the certificate.

For more information about SSL, X509, encryption, or public-key cryptography, perform an Internet search for the keywords in which you are interested.

6.3.6.2. Configuring MySQL for SSL

To use SSL connections between the MySQL server and client programs, your system must support either OpenSSL or yaSSL, and your version of MySQL must be built with SSL support. To make it easier to use secure connections, MySQL is bundled with yaSSL, which uses the same licensing model as MySQL. (OpenSSL uses an Apache-style license.) yaSSL support is available on all MySQL platforms supported by Oracle Corporation.

To get secure connections to work with MySQL and SSL, you must do the following:

  1. If you are not using a binary (precompiled) version of MySQL that has been built with SSL support, and you are going to use OpenSSL rather than the bundled yaSSL library, install OpenSSL if it has not already been installed. We have tested MySQL with OpenSSL 0.9.6. To obtain OpenSSL, visit http://www.openssl.org.

    Building MySQL using OpenSSL requires a shared OpenSSL library, otherwise linker errors occur. Alternatively, build MySQL using yaSSL.

  2. If you are not using a binary (precompiled) version of MySQL that has been built with SSL support, configure a MySQL source distribution to use SSL. When you configure MySQL, invoke the configure script like this:

    shell> ./configure --with-ssl
    

    That command configures the distribution to use the bundled yaSSL library. To use OpenSSL instead, specify the --with-ssl option with the path to the directory where the OpenSSL header files and libraries are located:

    shell> ./configure --with-ssl=path
    
    Note

    On some platforms the full determination of the You may also need to explicitly add the SSL library and header directories. You can do this by setting the LDFLAGS, CFLAGS, CPPFLAGS and CXXFLAGS with the full directories. For example:

    shell> LDFLAGS="-L/usr/local/ssl/lib" CFLAGS="-I/usr/local/ssl/include" \
    CPPFLAGS="-I/usr/local/ssl/include" CXXFLAGS="-I/usr/local/ssl/include" \
    configure --with-ssl=/usr/local/ssl

    Before MySQL 5.1.11, you must use the appropriate option to select the SSL library that you want to use.

    For yaSSL:

    shell> ./configure --with-yassl
    

    For OpenSSL:

    shell> ./configure --with-openssl
    

    Then compile and install the distribution.

    On Unix platforms, yaSSL retrieves true random numbers from either either /dev/urandom or /dev/random. Bug#13164 lists workarounds for some very old platforms which do not support these devices.

  3. To check whether a mysqld server supports SSL, examine the value of the have_ssl system variable:

    mysql> SHOW VARIABLES LIKE 'have_ssl';
    +---------------+-------+
    | Variable_name | Value |
    +---------------+-------+
    | have_ssl      | YES   |
    +---------------+-------+
    

    If the value is YES, the server supports SSL connections. If the value is DISABLED, the server is capable of supporting SSL connections but was not started with the appropriate --ssl-xxx options to enable them to be used; see Section 6.3.6.3, “Using SSL Connections”.

6.3.6.3. Using SSL Connections

To enable SSL connections, your MySQL distribution must be built with SSL support, as described in Section 6.3.6.2, “Configuring MySQL for SSL”. In addition, the proper SSL-related options must be used to specify the appropriate certificate and key files. For a complete list of SSL options, see Section 6.3.6.4, “SSL Command Options”.

To start the MySQL server so that it permits clients to connect using SSL, use the options that identify the certificate and key files the server uses when establishing a secure connection:

  • --ssl-ca identifies the Certificate Authority (CA) certificate.

  • --ssl-cert identifies the server public key certificate. This can be sent to the client and authenticated against the CA certificate that it has.

  • --ssl-key identifies the server private key.

For example, start the server like this:

shell> mysqld --ssl-ca=ca-cert.pem \
         --ssl-cert=server-cert.pem \
         --ssl-key=server-key.pem

Each option names a file in PEM format. For instructions on generating the required SSL certificate and key files, see Section 6.3.6.5, “Setting Up SSL Certificates and Keys for MySQL”. If you have a MySQL source distribution, you can also test your setup using the demonstration certificate and key files in the mysql-test/std_data directory of the distribution.

Similar options are used on the client side, although in this case, --ssl-cert and --ssl-key identify the client public and private key. Note that the Certificate Authority certificate, if specified, must be the same as used by the server.

To establish a secure connection to a MySQL server with SSL support, the options that a client must specify depend on the SSL requirements of the MySQL account used by the client. (See the discussion of the REQUIRE clause in Section 13.7.1.3, “GRANT Syntax”.)

Suppose that you want to connect using an account that has no special SSL requirements or was created using a GRANT statement that includes the REQUIRE SSL option. As a recommended set of SSL options, start the server with at least --ssl-cert and --ssl-key, and invoke the client with --ssl-ca. A client can connect securely like this:

shell> mysql --ssl-ca=ca-cert.pem

To require that a client certificate also be specified, create the account using the REQUIRE X509 option. Then the client must also specify the proper client key and certificate files or the server will reject the connection:

shell> mysql --ssl-ca=ca-cert.pem \
       --ssl-cert=client-cert.pem \
       --ssl-key=client-key.pem

A client can determine whether the current connection with the server uses SSL by checking the value of the Ssl_cipher status variable. The value of Ssl_cipher is nonempty if SSL is used, and empty otherwise. For example:

mysql> SHOW STATUS LIKE 'Ssl_cipher';
+---------------+--------------------+
| Variable_name | Value              |
+---------------+--------------------+
| Ssl_cipher    | DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA |
+---------------+--------------------+

For the mysql client, an alternative is to use the STATUS or \s command and check the SSL line:

mysql> \s
...
SSL:                    Not in use
...

Or:

mysql> \s
...
SSL:                    Cipher in use is DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA
...

The C API enables application programs to use SSL:

Replication uses the C API, so secure connections can be used between master and slave servers. See Section 16.3.7, “Setting Up Replication Using SSL”.

6.3.6.4. SSL Command Options

This section describes options that are used to specify whether to use SSL and the names of SSL certificate and key files. These options can be given on the command line or in an option file. They are not available unless MySQL has been built with SSL support. See Section 6.3.6.2, “Configuring MySQL for SSL”. (There are also --master-ssl* options that can be used for setting up a secure connection from a slave replication server to a master server; see Section 16.1.3, “Replication and Binary Logging Options and Variables”.)

Table 6.8. SSL Option/Variable Summary

NameCmd-LineOption fileSystem VarStatus VarVar ScopeDynamic
have_openssl  Yes GlobalNo
have_ssl  Yes GlobalNo
skip-sslYesYes    
sslYesYes    
ssl-caYesYes  GlobalNo
- Variable: ssl_ca  Yes GlobalNo
ssl-capathYesYes  GlobalNo
- Variable: ssl_capath  Yes GlobalNo
ssl-certYesYes  GlobalNo
- Variable: ssl_cert  Yes GlobalNo
ssl-cipherYesYes  GlobalNo
- Variable: ssl_cipher  Yes GlobalNo
ssl-keyYesYes  GlobalNo
- Variable: ssl_key  Yes GlobalNo
ssl-verify-server-certYesYes    

  • --ssl

    For the server, this option specifies that the server permits SSL connections. For a client program, it permits the client to connect to the server using SSL, but this option is not sufficient in itself to cause an SSL connection to be used. As a recommended set of options to enable SSL connections, use at least --ssl-cert and --ssl-key on the server side and --ssl-ca on the client side.

    --ssl is implied by other --ssl-xxx options as indicated in the descriptions for those options. For this reason, --ssl is not usually specified explicitly. It is more often used explicitly in its opposite form to override other SSL options and indicate that SSL should not be used. To do this, specify the option as --skip-ssl or --ssl=0. For example, you might have SSL options specified in the [client] group of your option file to use SSL connections by default when you invoke MySQL client programs. To use an unencrypted connection instead, invoke the client program with --skip-ssl on the command line to override the options in the option file.

    Use of --ssl does not require an SSL connection to be used, it only permits it. For example, if you specify this option for a client program but the server has not been configured to permit SSL connections, an unencrypted connection is used.

    The secure way to require use of an SSL connection is to create a MySQL account that includes at least a REQUIRE SSL clause in the GRANT statement. In this case, connections for that account will be rejected unless MySQL supports SSL connections and the server and client have been started with the proper SSL options.

    The REQUIRE clause permits other SSL-related restrictions as well. These can be used for stricter requirements than REQUIRE SSL. The description of REQUIRE in Section 13.7.1.3, “GRANT Syntax”, provides additional detail about which SSL command options may or must be specified by clients that connect using accounts that are created using the various REQUIRE options.

  • --ssl-ca=file_name

    The path to a file in PEM format that contains a list of trusted SSL certificate authorities. This option implies --ssl.

    As of MySQL 5.1.18, if you use SSL when establishing a client connection, you can tell the client not to authenticate the server certificate by specifying neither --ssl-ca nor --ssl-capath. The server still verifies the client according to any applicable requirements established using GRANT statements for the client, and it still uses any --ssl-ca/--ssl-capath values that were passed to server at startup.

  • --ssl-capath=directory_name

    The path to a directory that contains trusted SSL certificate authority certificates in PEM format. This option implies --ssl.

    As of MySQL 5.1.18, if you use SSL when establishing a client connection, you can tell the client not to authenticate the server certificate by specifying neither --ssl-ca nor --ssl-capath. The server still verifies the client according to any applicable requirements established using GRANT statements for the client, and it still uses any --ssl-ca/--ssl-capath values that were passed to server at startup.

    MySQL distributions built with OpenSSL support the --ssl-capath option. Distributions built with yaSSL do not because yaSSL does not look in any directory and does not follow a chained certificate tree. yaSSL requires that all components of the CA certificate tree be contained within a single CA certificate tree and that each certificate in the file has a unique SubjectName value. To work around this yaSSL limitation, concatenate the individual certificate files comprising the certificate tree into a new file. Then specify the new file as the value of the --ssl-capath option.

  • --ssl-cert=file_name

    The name of the SSL certificate file in PEM format to use for establishing a secure connection. This option implies --ssl.

  • --ssl-cipher=cipher_list

    A list of permissible ciphers to use for SSL encryption. If no cipher in the list is supported, SSL connections will not work. This option implies --ssl.

    For greatest portability, cipher_list should be a list of one or more cipher names, separated by colons. This format is understood both by OpenSSL and yaSSL. Examples:

    --ssl-cipher=AES128-SHA
    --ssl-cipher=DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:AES128-SHA

    OpenSSL supports a more flexible syntax for specifying ciphers, as described in the OpenSSL documentation at http://www.openssl.org/docs/apps/ciphers.html. However, yaSSL does not, so attempts to use that extended syntax fails for a MySQL distribution built with yaSSL.

  • --ssl-key=file_name

    The name of the SSL key file in PEM format to use for establishing a secure connection.

    If the MySQL distribution was built using OpenSSL and the key file is protected by a passphrase, the program will prompt the user for the passphrase. The password must be given interactively; it cannot be stored in a file. If the passphrase is incorrect, the program continues as if it could not read the key. If the MySQL distribution was built using yaSSL and the key file is protected by a passphrase, an error occurs.

  • --ssl-verify-server-cert

    This option is available for client programs only, not the server. It causes the client to check the server's Common Name value in the certificate that the server sends to the client. The client verifies that name against the host name the client uses for connecting to the server, and the connection fails if there is a mismatch. This feature can be used to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. Verification is disabled by default. This option was added in MySQL 5.1.11.

6.3.6.5. Setting Up SSL Certificates and Keys for MySQL

This section demonstrates how to set up SSL certificate and key files for use by MySQL servers and clients. The first example shows a simplified procedure such as you might use from the command line. The second shows a script that contains more detail. The first two examples are intended for use on Unix and both use the openssl command that is part of OpenSSL. The third example describes how to set up SSL files on Windows.

Example 1: Creating SSL Files from the Command Line on Unix

The following example shows a set of commands to create MySQL server and client certificate and key files. You will need to respond to several prompts by the openssl commands. To generate test files, you can press Enter to all prompts. To generate files for production use, you should provide nonempty responses.

# Create clean environment
shell> rm -rf newcerts
shell> mkdir newcerts && cd newcerts

# Create CA certificate
shell> openssl genrsa 2048 > ca-key.pem
shell> openssl req -new -x509 -nodes -days 3600 \
         -key ca-key.pem -out ca-cert.pem

# Create server certificate, remove passphrase, and sign it
# server-cert.pem = public key, server-key.pem = private key
shell> openssl req -newkey rsa:2048 -days 3600 \
         -nodes -keyout server-key.pem -out server-req.pem
shell> openssl rsa -in server-key.pem -out server-key.pem
shell> openssl x509 -req -in server-req.pem -days 3600 \
         -CA ca-cert.pem -CAkey ca-key.pem -set_serial 01 -out server-cert.pem

# Create client certificate, remove passphrase, and sign it
# client-cert.pem = public key, client-key.pem = private key
shell> openssl req -newkey rsa:2048 -days 3600 \
         -nodes -keyout client-key.pem -out client-req.pem
shell> openssl rsa -in client-key.pem -out client-key.pem
shell> openssl x509 -req -in client-req.pem -days 3600 \
         -CA ca-cert.pem -CAkey ca-key.pem -set_serial 01 -out client-cert.pem

After generating the certificates, verify them:

shell> openssl verify -CAfile ca-cert.pem server-cert.pem client-cert.pem
server-cert.pem: OK
client-cert.pem: OK

Now you have a set of files that can be used as follows:

  • ca-cert.pem: Use this as the argument to --ssl-ca on the server and client sides. (The CA certificate, if used, must be the same on both sides.)

  • server-cert.pem, server-key.pem: Use these as the arguments to --ssl-cert and --ssl-key on the server side.

  • client-cert.pem, client-key.pem: Use these as the arguments to --ssl-cert and --ssl-key on the client side.

To use the files to test SSL connections, see Section 6.3.6.3, “Using SSL Connections”.

Example 2: Creating SSL Files Using a Script on Unix

Here is an example script that shows how to set up SSL certificate and key files for MySQL. After executing the script, use the files to test SSL connections as described in Section 6.3.6.3, “Using SSL Connections”.

DIR=`pwd`/openssl
PRIV=$DIR/private

mkdir $DIR $PRIV $DIR/newcerts
cp /usr/share/ssl/openssl.cnf $DIR
replace ./demoCA $DIR -- $DIR/openssl.cnf

# Create necessary files: $database, $serial and $new_certs_dir
# directory (optional)

touch $DIR/index.txt
echo "01" > $DIR/serial

#
# Generation of Certificate Authority(CA)
#

openssl req -new -x509 -keyout $PRIV/cakey.pem -out $DIR/ca-cert.pem \
    -days 3600 -config $DIR/openssl.cnf

# Sample output:
# Using configuration from /home/monty/openssl/openssl.cnf
# Generating a 1024 bit RSA private key
# ................++++++
# .........++++++
# writing new private key to '/home/monty/openssl/private/cakey.pem'
# Enter PEM pass phrase:
# Verifying password - Enter PEM pass phrase:
# -----
# You are about to be asked to enter information that will be
# incorporated into your certificate request.
# What you are about to enter is what is called a Distinguished Name
# or a DN.
# There are quite a few fields but you can leave some blank
# For some fields there will be a default value,
# If you enter '.', the field will be left blank.
# -----
# Country Name (2 letter code) [AU]:FI
# State or Province Name (full name) [Some-State]:.
# Locality Name (eg, city) []:
# Organization Name (eg, company) [Internet Widgits Pty Ltd]:MySQL AB
# Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:
# Common Name (eg, YOUR name) []:MySQL admin
# Email Address []:

#
# Create server request and key
#
openssl req -new -keyout $DIR/server-key.pem -out \
    $DIR/server-req.pem -days 3600 -config $DIR/openssl.cnf

# Sample output:
# Using configuration from /home/monty/openssl/openssl.cnf
# Generating a 1024 bit RSA private key
# ..++++++
# ..........++++++
# writing new private key to '/home/monty/openssl/server-key.pem'
# Enter PEM pass phrase:
# Verifying password - Enter PEM pass phrase:
# -----
# You are about to be asked to enter information that will be
# incorporated into your certificate request.
# What you are about to enter is what is called a Distinguished Name
# or a DN.
# There are quite a few fields but you can leave some blank
# For some fields there will be a default value,
# If you enter '.', the field will be left blank.
# -----
# Country Name (2 letter code) [AU]:FI
# State or Province Name (full name) [Some-State]:.
# Locality Name (eg, city) []:
# Organization Name (eg, company) [Internet Widgits Pty Ltd]:MySQL AB
# Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:
# Common Name (eg, YOUR name) []:MySQL server
# Email Address []:
#
# Please enter the following 'extra' attributes
# to be sent with your certificate request
# A challenge password []:
# An optional company name []:

#
# Remove the passphrase from the key
#
openssl rsa -in $DIR/server-key.pem -out $DIR/server-key.pem

#
# Sign server cert
#
openssl ca -cert $DIR/ca-cert.pem -policy policy_anything \
    -out $DIR/server-cert.pem -config $DIR/openssl.cnf \
    -infiles $DIR/server-req.pem

# Sample output:
# Using configuration from /home/monty/openssl/openssl.cnf
# Enter PEM pass phrase:
# Check that the request matches the signature
# Signature ok
# The Subjects Distinguished Name is as follows
# countryName           :PRINTABLE:'FI'
# organizationName      :PRINTABLE:'MySQL AB'
# commonName            :PRINTABLE:'MySQL admin'
# Certificate is to be certified until Sep 13 14:22:46 2003 GMT
# (365 days)
# Sign the certificate? [y/n]:y
#
#
# 1 out of 1 certificate requests certified, commit? [y/n]y
# Write out database with 1 new entries
# Data Base Updated

#
# Create client request and key
#
openssl req -new -keyout $DIR/client-key.pem -out \
    $DIR/client-req.pem -days 3600 -config $DIR/openssl.cnf

# Sample output:
# Using configuration from /home/monty/openssl/openssl.cnf
# Generating a 1024 bit RSA private key
# .....................................++++++
# .............................................++++++
# writing new private key to '/home/monty/openssl/client-key.pem'
# Enter PEM pass phrase:
# Verifying password - Enter PEM pass phrase:
# -----
# You are about to be asked to enter information that will be
# incorporated into your certificate request.
# What you are about to enter is what is called a Distinguished Name
# or a DN.
# There are quite a few fields but you can leave some blank
# For some fields there will be a default value,
# If you enter '.', the field will be left blank.
# -----
# Country Name (2 letter code) [AU]:FI
# State or Province Name (full name) [Some-State]:.
# Locality Name (eg, city) []:
# Organization Name (eg, company) [Internet Widgits Pty Ltd]:MySQL AB
# Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:
# Common Name (eg, YOUR name) []:MySQL user
# Email Address []:
#
# Please enter the following 'extra' attributes
# to be sent with your certificate request
# A challenge password []:
# An optional company name []:

#
# Remove the passphrase from the key
#
openssl rsa -in $DIR/client-key.pem -out $DIR/client-key.pem

#
# Sign client cert
#

openssl ca -cert $DIR/ca-cert.pem -policy policy_anything \
    -out $DIR/client-cert.pem -config $DIR/openssl.cnf \
    -infiles $DIR/client-req.pem

# Sample output:
# Using configuration from /home/monty/openssl/openssl.cnf
# Enter PEM pass phrase:
# Check that the request matches the signature
# Signature ok
# The Subjects Distinguished Name is as follows
# countryName           :PRINTABLE:'FI'
# organizationName      :PRINTABLE:'MySQL AB'
# commonName            :PRINTABLE:'MySQL user'
# Certificate is to be certified until Sep 13 16:45:17 2003 GMT
# (365 days)
# Sign the certificate? [y/n]:y
#
#
# 1 out of 1 certificate requests certified, commit? [y/n]y
# Write out database with 1 new entries
# Data Base Updated

#
# Create a my.cnf file that you can use to test the certificates
#

cat <<EOF > $DIR/my.cnf
[client]
ssl-ca=$DIR/ca-cert.pem
ssl-cert=$DIR/client-cert.pem
ssl-key=$DIR/client-key.pem
[mysqld]
ssl-ca=$DIR/ca-cert.pem
ssl-cert=$DIR/server-cert.pem
ssl-key=$DIR/server-key.pem
EOF
Example 3: Creating SSL Files on Windows

Download OpenSSL for Windows if it is not installed on your system. An overview of available packages can be seen here:

http://www.slproweb.com/products/Win32OpenSSL.html

Choose the Win32 OpenSSL Light or Win64 OpenSSL Light package, depending on your architecture (32-bit or 64-bit). The default installation location will be C:\OpenSSL-Win32 or C:\OpenSSL-Win64, depending on which package you downloaded. The following instructions assume a default location of C:\OpenSSL-Win32. Modify this as necessary if you are using the 64-bit package.

If a message occurs during setup indicating '...critical component is missing: Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributables', cancel the setup and download one of the following packages as well, again depending on your architecture (32-bit or 64-bit):

After installing the additional package, restart the OpenSSL setup procedure.

During installation, leave the default C:\OpenSSL-Win32 as the install path, and also leave the default option 'Copy OpenSSL DLL files to the Windows system directory' selected.

When the installation has finished, add C:\OpenSSL-Win32\bin to the Windows System Path variable of your server:

  1. On the Windows desktop, right-click the My Computer icon, and select Properties.

  2. Select the Advanced tab from the System Properties menu that appears, and click the Environment Variables button.

  3. Under System Variables, select Path, then click the Edit button. The Edit System Variable dialogue should appear.

  4. Add ';C:\OpenSSL-Win32\bin' to the end (notice the semicolon).

  5. Press OK 3 times.

  6. Check that OpenSSL was correctly integrated into the Path variable by opening a new command console (Start>Run>cmd.exe) and verifying that OpenSSL is available:

    Microsoft Windows [Version ...]
    Copyright (c) 2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    
    C:\Windows\system32>cd \
    
    C:\>openssl
    OpenSSL> exit <<< If you see the OpenSSL prompt, installation was successful.
    
    C:\>
    

Depending on your version of Windows, the preceding path-setting instructions might differ slightly.

After OpenSSL has been installed, use instructions similar to those from from Example 1 (shown earlier in this section), with the following changes:

  • Change the following Unix commands:

    # Create clean environment
    shell> rm -rf newcerts
    shell> mkdir newcerts && cd newcerts
    

    On Windows, use these commands instead:

    # Create clean environment
    shell> md c:\newcerts
    shell> cd c:\newcerts
    
  • When a '\' character is shown at the end of a command line, this '\' character must be removed and the command lines entered all on a single line.

After generating the certificate and key files, to use them to test SSL connections, see Section 6.3.6.3, “Using SSL Connections”.

6.3.7. Connecting to MySQL Remotely from Windows with SSH

This section describes how to get a secure connection to a remote MySQL server with SSH. The information was provided by David Carlson .

  1. Install an SSH client on your Windows machine. As a user, the best nonfree one I have found is from SecureCRT from http://www.vandyke.com/. Another option is f-secure from http://www.f-secure.com/. You can also find some free ones on Google at http://directory.google.com/Top/Computers/Internet/Protocols/SSH/Clients/Windows/.

  2. Start your Windows SSH client. Set Host_Name = yourmysqlserver_URL_or_IP. Set userid=your_userid to log in to your server. This userid value might not be the same as the user name of your MySQL account.

  3. Set up port forwarding. Either do a remote forward (Set local_port: 3306, remote_host: yourmysqlservername_or_ip, remote_port: 3306 ) or a local forward (Set port: 3306, host: localhost, remote port: 3306).

  4. Save everything, otherwise you will have to redo it the next time.

  5. Log in to your server with the SSH session you just created.

  6. On your Windows machine, start some ODBC application (such as Access).

  7. Create a new file in Windows and link to MySQL using the ODBC driver the same way you normally do, except type in localhost for the MySQL host server, not yourmysqlservername.

At this point, you should have an ODBC connection to MySQL, encrypted using SSH.

6.3.8. SQL-Based MySQL Account Activity Auditing

Applications can use the following guidelines to perform SQL-based auditing that ties database activity to MySQL accounts.

MySQL accounts correspond to rows in the mysql.user table. When a client connects successfully, the server authenticates the client to a particular row in this table. The User and Host column values in this row uniquely identify the account and correspond to the 'user_name'@'host_name' format in which account names are written in SQL statements.

The account used to authenticate a client determines which privileges the client has. Normally, the CURRENT_USER() function can be invoked to determine which account this is for the client user. Its value is constructed from the User and Host columns of the user table row for the account.

However, there are circumstances under which the CURRENT_USER() value corresponds not to the client user but to a different account. This occurs in contexts when privilege checking is not based the client's account:

  • Stored routines (procedures and functions) defined with the SQL SECURITY DEFINER characteristic

  • Views defined with the SQL SECURITY DEFINER characteristic (as of MySQL 5.1.12)

  • Triggers and events

In those contexts, privilege checking is done against the DEFINER account and CURRENT_USER() refers to that account, not to the account for the client who invoked the stored routine or view or who caused the trigger to activate. To determine the invoking user, you can call the USER() function, which returns a value indicating the actual user name provided by the client and the host from which the client connected. However, this value does not necessarily correspond directly to an account in the user table, because the USER() value never contains wildcards, whereas account values (as returned by CURRENT_USER()) may contain user name and host name wildcards.

For example, a blank user name matches any user, so an account of ''@'localhost' enables clients to connect as an anonymous user from the local host with any user name. If this case, if a client connects as user1 from the local host, USER() and CURRENT_USER() return different values:

mysql> SELECT USER(), CURRENT_USER();
+-----------------+----------------+
| USER()          | CURRENT_USER() |
+-----------------+----------------+
| user1@localhost | @localhost     |
+-----------------+----------------+

The host name part of an account can contain wildcards, too. If the host name contains a '%' or '_' pattern character or uses netmask notation, the account can be used for clients connecting from multiple hosts and the CURRENT_USER() value will not indicate which one. For example, the account 'user2'@'%.example.com' can be used by user2 to connect from any host in the example.com domain. If user2 connects from remote.example.com, USER() and CURRENT_USER() return different values:

mysql> SELECT USER(), CURRENT_USER();
+--------------------------+---------------------+
| USER()                   | CURRENT_USER()      |
+--------------------------+---------------------+
| user2@remote.example.com | user2@%.example.com |
+--------------------------+---------------------+

If an application must invoke USER() for user auditing (for example, if it does auditing from within triggers) but must also be able to associate the USER() value with an account in the user table, it is necessary to avoid accounts that contain wildcards in the User or Host column. Specifically, do not permit User to be empty (which creates an anonymous-user account), and do not permit pattern characters or netmask notation in Host values. All accounts must have a nonempty User value and literal Host value.

With respect to the previous examples, the ''@'localhost' and 'user2'@'%.example.com' accounts should be changed not to use wildcards:

RENAME USER ''@'localhost' TO 'user1'@'localhost';
RENAME USER 'user2'@'%.example.com' TO 'user2'@'remote.example.com';

If user2 must be able to connect from several hosts in the example.com domain, there should be a separate account for each host.

To extract the user name or host name part from a CURRENT_USER() or USER() value, use the SUBSTRING() function:

mysql> SELECT SUBSTRING_INDEX(CURRENT_USER(),'@',1);
+---------------------------------------+
| SUBSTRING_INDEX(CURRENT_USER(),'@',1) |
+---------------------------------------+
| user1                                 |
+---------------------------------------+

mysql> SELECT SUBSTRING_INDEX(CURRENT_USER(),'@',-1);
+----------------------------------------+
| SUBSTRING_INDEX(CURRENT_USER(),'@',-1) |
+----------------------------------------+
| localhost                              |
+----------------------------------------+