News
Commentary
2/8/2005
10:06 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

The Root Of MySQL's Security Evil?

The recent worm attack that hit thousands of MySQL installations reflects a growing trend in the malware world. This worm doesn't exploit a weakness in the MySQL code--it exploits lazy admins who could protect themselves with one simple step.

The recent worm attack that hit thousands of MySQL installations reflects a growing trend in the malware world. This worm doesn't exploit a weakness in the MySQL code--it exploits lazy admins who could protect themselves with one simple step.

The MySQL worm, like many others, uses a brute-force attack to guess a target's root password. Far too often, it only needs one guess: the default password, which the admin never changed.

The worm also needs an admin to make other mistakes, such as allowing remote access and leaving ports open, both usually for no good reason. But a strong root password is still all it takes to end the joyride before it begins.

This is the main reason why MySQL AB, the Swedish firm that makes the open-source database, took some heat over the incident. Critics want the company to require a password change during the MySQL setup process, something most other database severs already do. Better yet, they'd like to see MySQL disable the root account by default in future releases

Either of these changes probably would have stopped the attack dead in its tracks, and MySQL AB says it's thinking about disabling default root access in MySQL 5.0. That's not a bad idea, but I don't see why the company should take any blame for this attack. Anyone with a reason to install MySQL should know better; if they don't, they need a swift kick in the rear, not another futile attempt to protect them from themselves.

The MySQL attack makes for an interesting comparison, by the way, to another controversy over when and how to manage root access on an open-source product. Unlike MySQL, however, this product is designed for novice Linux users who don't have the first clue about security and probably don't want one. More on that next time.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The Business of Going Digital
The Business of Going Digital
Digital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - August 20, 2014
CIOs need people who know the ins and outs of cloud software stacks and security, and, most of all, can break through cultural resistance.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.