Reviewing MySQL Security

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Introduction

As part of the code review, you may need to step outside the code review box to assess the security of a database such as MySQL. The following covers areas which could be looked at.

Privileges

Grant_priv: Allows users to grant privileges to other users. This should be appropriately restricted to the DBA and Data (Table) owners. Give specific permissions on an as needed basis and use different logins for different purposes.

Select * from user 
where Grant_priv = 'Y'; 

Select * from db 
where Grant_priv = 'Y';

Select * from host 
where Grant_priv = 'Y';

Select * from tables_priv
where Table_priv = 'Grant';

Alter_priv: Determine who has access to make changes to the database structure (alter privilege) at a global, database, and table level.

Select * from user 
where Alter_priv = 'Y';

Select * from db 
where Alter _priv = 'Y';

Select * from host
where Alter_priv = 'Y';

Select * from tables_priv
where Table_priv = 'Alter';

MySQL Configuration File

Check for the following:

a) skip-grant-tables
b) safe-show-database
c) safe-user-create

a) This option causes the server not to use the privilege system at all. All users have full access to all tables.

b) When the SHOW DATABASES command is executed, it returns only those databases for which the user has some kind of privilege. Default since MySQL v4.0.2.

c) With this enabled a user can't create new users with the GRANT command as long as the user does not have the INSERT privilege for the mysql.user table.

User Privileges

Here we can check which users have access to perform potentially malicious actions on the database. "Least privilege" is the key point here:

Select * from user where 
Select_priv  = 'Y' or Insert_priv  = 'Y'
or Update_priv = 'Y' or Delete_priv  = 'Y'
or Create_priv = 'Y' or Drop_priv    = 'Y'
or Reload_priv = 'Y' or Shutdown_priv = 'Y'
or Process_priv = 'Y' or File_priv    = 'Y'
or Grant_priv   = 'Y' or References_priv = ‘Y'
or Index_priv = 'Y' or Alter_priv = 'Y';
Select * from host 
where Select_priv  = 'Y' or Insert_priv  = 'Y'
or Create_priv = 'Y' or Drop_priv    = 'Y'
or Index_priv = 'Y' or Alter_priv = 'Y'; 
or Grant_priv   = 'Y' or References_priv = ‘Y'
or Update_priv = 'Y' or Delete_priv  = 'Y'
Select * from db 
where Select_priv  = 'Y' or Insert_priv  = 'Y'
or Grant_priv   = 'Y' or References_priv = ‘Y'
or Update_priv = 'Y' or Delete_priv  = 'Y'
or Create_priv = 'Y' or Drop_priv    = 'Y'
or Index_priv = 'Y' or Alter_priv = 'Y';

Default MySQL Accounts

The default account in MySQL is "root"/"root@localhost" with a blank password. We can check if the root account exists by:

SELECT User, Host 
FROM user
WHERE User = 'root';

Set a password for "root" user. But don't run MySql as root. Create separate user for the Database connection with only required privileges.

Remote Access

MySQL by default listens on port 3306. If the app server is on localhost also, we can disable this port by adding skip-networking to the [mysqld] in the my.cnf file.

Also you should change the Default port number from 3306 to some other port. Additionally, you can use bind= local_ip in /etc/my.cnf file. this will ensure that you DB is not accessible on Public IP.


Additional Chacks

1. Avoid " SELECT * " in queries.

2. Create views to simplify commonly-used Table joins.

3. Strictly avoid plain text passwords in Scripts and tables.

4. Avoid using FQDN or hostnames when granting access.

5. Use phpMyAdmin to add a user.

6. Check for CHANGE LOG file to see if patches are applied.

7. Remove test database and access to it.

8. Do not create demo or test databases on production servers, keep it clean and safe.


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