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Is Your Database Affected by CVE-2016-6662?

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Is Your Database Affected by CVE-2016-6662?

This particularly nasty vulnerability can leave your database at the mercy of remote root code. See how you can tell if you're at risk and what you can do to fix it.

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In this blogpost, I will discuss the CVE-2016-6662 vulnerability, how to tell if it affects you, and how to prevent the vulnerability from affecting you if you have an older version of MySQL.

I’ll also list which MySQL versions include the vulnerability fixes.

As we announced in a previous post, there are certain scenarios in Percona Server (and MySQL) that can allow a remote root code execution (CVE-2016-6662).

Vulnerability Approach

The website legalhackers.com contains the full, current explanation of the CVE-2016-6662 vulnerability.

To summarize, the methods used to gain root privileges require multiple conditions:

  1. A remote (or even local) MySQL user that has FILE permissions (or SUPER, which encompasses all of them).
  2. Improper OS files/directories permissions around MySQL configuration files that allow the MySQL system user access to modify or create new configuration files.
  3. Several techniques alter the MySQL configuration to include loading a malicious shared library.
    The techniques currently described require FILE or SUPER privileges, but also include the currently undisclosed CVE-2016-6663 (which demonstrates how to alter the configuration without FILE privileges).
  4. Have that malicious shared library loaded when MySQL restarts, which includes the code that allows privilege escalation.

Fixed Versions

MySQL Fixes

MySQL seems to have already released versions that include the security fixes.

This is coming from the release notes in MySQL 5.6.33:

  • For mysqld_safe, the argument to --malloc-lib now must be one of the directories /usr/lib, /usr/lib64, /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu, or /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu. In addition, the --mysqld and --mysqld-version options can be used only on the command line and not in an option file. (Bug #24464380)
  • It was possible to write log files ending with .ini or .cnf that later could be parsed as option files. The general query log and slow query log can no longer be written to a file ending with .ini or .cnf. (Bug #24388753)
  • Privilege escalation was possible by exploiting the way REPAIR TABLE used temporary files. (Bug #24388746)

You aren’t affected if you use version 5.5.52, 5.6.33 or 5.7.15.

Release notes: 5.5.52, 5.6.33, 5.7.15

Percona Server

The way Percona increased security was by limiting which libraries are allowed to be loaded with  LD_PRELOAD (including --malloc-lib), and limiting them to /usr/lib/,  /usr/lib64 and the MySQL installation base directory.

This means only locations that are accessible by root users can load shared libraries.

The following Percona Server versions have this fix:

We are working on releasing new Percona XtraDB Cluster versions as well.

Future Percona Server releases will include all fixes from MySQL.


MariaDB has fixed the issue in 5.5.51, 10.1.17 and 10.0.27

I Have an Older MySQL Version, What Do I Do Now?

It is possible to change the database configuration so that it isn’t affected anymore (without changing your MySQL versions and restarting your database). There are several options, each of them focusing on one of the conditions required for the vulnerability to work.

Patch mysqld_safe Manually

Just before publishing this, a blogpost came out with another alternative on how to patch your server: https://www.psce.com/blog/2016/09/12/how-to-quickly-patch-mysql-server-against-cve-2016-6662/.

Database User Permissions

One way to avoid the vulnerability is making sure no remote user has  SUPER or FILE privileges.

However, CVE-2016-6663 mentions there is a way to do this without any FILE privileges (likely related to the REPAIR TABLE issue mentioned in MySQL release notes).

Configuration Files Permissions

The vulnerability needs to be able to write to some MySQL configuration files. Prevent that, and you are secure.

Make sure you configure permissions for various config files as follows:

  • MySQL reads configuration files from different paths, including from your datadir
    • Create an (empty) my.cnf  and .my.cnf in the datadir (usually  /var/lib/mysql) and make root the owner/group with 0600 permissions.
    • Other Locations to look into: /etc/my.cnf /etc/mysql/my.cnf /usr/etc/my.cnf ~/.my.cnf  ( mysqld --help --verbose shows you where mysqld will look).
  • This also includes  !includedir paths defined in your current configurations — make sure they are not writeable by the mysql user as well.
  • No config files should be writeable by the mysql user (change ownership and permissions).

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