MySQL client password security

In case you missed it, MySQL 5.6.6, also known as Milestone 9, was recently released. I have yet to install this, however just one part of the MySQL 5.6.6 Release Notes makes placing installing and testing high on my TODO list.

Updated 20 Sep, 2012. Be sure to also read Todd’s post Understanding mysql_config_editor’s security aspects about a more in-depth and accurate description of this new feature. In summary, “It makes secure access via MySQL client applications easier to use”.

That is the reported improvements in password management. From the release notes:

Security Improvements

These security improvements were implemented:

MySQL now provides a method for storing authentication credentials securely in an option file named .mylogin.cnf. To create the file, use the mysql_config_editor utility. The file can be read later by MySQL client programs to obtain authentication credentials for connecting to a MySQL server. mysql_config_editor writes the .mylogin.cnf file using encryption so the credentials are not stored as clear text, and its contents when decrypted by client programs are used only in memory. In this way, passwords can be stored in a file in non-cleartext format and used later without ever needing to be exposed on the command line or in an environment variable. This improves security for interactive use of MySQL client programs, as well as security for noninteractive tasks that require a MySQL password from a file. For more information, see Section 4.6.6, “mysql_config_editor — MySQL Configuration Utility”.

The .mylogin.cnf file can contain multiple sets of options, known as “login paths.” To specify which option group to use from the .mylogin.cnf file for connecting to the server, use the –login-path option. See Section 4.2.3.4, “Command-Line Options that Affect Option-File Handling”.

There are additional improvements and modifications around encryption. Well worth reading about in MySQL 5.6.6 Release Notes.

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2 Responses to “MySQL client password security”

  1. Sergei Golubchik says:

    This encryption is not much better than ROT13. Strictly speaking, it’s obfuscation, which only prevents the password from being stored as plain-text.

    MySQL uses AES to encrypt the password, but both the encrypted password and the encryption key are stored in the same .mylogin.cnf file.

  2. Todd Farmer says:

    I’ve published the following blog entry to help clarify what this enhancement is meant to accomplish, as well as what it explicitly does NOT do:

    http://mysqlblog.fivefarmers.com/2012/08/16/understanding-mysql_config_utilitys-security-aspects/