Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Network attacks on MySQL, Part 3: What do you trust?

In my previous blogs I told you to enable SSL/TLS and force the connection to be secured. So I followed my advice and did forced SSL. Great!

So now everything is 100% secure isn't it?

No it isn't and I would never claim anything to be 100% secure.

There are important differences in the SSL/TLS implementations of browers and the implementation in MySQL. One of these differences is that your browser has a trust store with a large set of trusted certificate authorities. If the website you visit has SSL enabled then your browser will check if the certificate it presents is signed by a trusted CA. MySQL doesn't use a list of trusted CA's, and this makes sense for many setups.

The key difference is that a website has clients (browsers) which are not managed by the same organization. And for MySQL connections the set of clients is often much smaller are more or less managed by one organization. Adding a CA for a set of MySQL connections if ok, adding a CA for groups of websites is not.

The result is that a self signed certificate or a certificate which is signed by an internal CA is ok. An public CA also won't issue a certificate for internal hostnames, so if your server has an internal hostname this isn't even an option. Note that the organization running public CA's sometimes offer a service where they manage your internal CA, but then your CA is not signed by the public CA.

But if you don't tell your MySQL client or application which CA's it should trust it will trust all certifictes. This allows an attacker to use a man-in-the-middle proxy which terminates the SSL connection between your client and the proxy and setup another connection to the server, which may or may not be useing SSL.

To protect against this attack:

  1. Use the --ssl-ca option for the client to specify the CA certificate.
  2. Use the --ssl-mode=VERIFY_CA option for the client.

You could use a CA for each server or a CA you use for all MySQL servers in your organization. If you use multiple CA's then you should bundle them in one file or use --ssl-capath instead.

1 comment:

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