Oracle’s 27 MySQL security fixes and MariaDB

The MySQL community has something new on their radar. First up, it looks like MySQL is now part of Oracle Software Security Assurance, and this is something all MySQL users should be happy about. Next, it is worth noting that MySQL is now part of the Oracle Critical Patch Update (Oracle CPU), as the MySQL product line has made it into its first Oracle CPU advisory for January 2012.

As part of the MySQL community, CPU’s are new to us — they are released on the Tuesday closest to the 17th day of January, April, July and October. This kind of reminds us of Patch Tuesday, but let’s not digress.

This is the first time MySQL is part of the Critical Patch Update, and the advisory suggests that there are 27 new security fixes for Oracle MySQL, with one of the vulnerabilities having the possibility of remote exploitation without authentication. As developers of a MySQL branch we are naturally concerned towards the nature of these CPU’s.

For starters, it’s good to note that MariaDB is always based from a branch of MySQL (MySQL 5.1 for MariaDB 5.1, 5.2 & 5.3, and MySQL 5.5 for MariaDB 5.5). So whenever there are security fixes which Oracle makes into MySQL 5.1 or MySQL 5.5, we inherit them. This is one of the benefits of being a branch as opposed to being a fork.

“Oracle advisories include all issues that appeared since the last advisory. But this is the first advisory for MySQL. So either Oracle found 27 new problems since October 2011 or this includes everything that’s been outstanding,” said Sergei Golubchik, VP of Architecture for MariaDB and former MySQL security contact when I asked him about the 27 security fixes.

Upon looking up all the CVE numbers, the reports were vague, like “Unspecified vulnerability in the MySQL Server component in Oracle MySQL 5.1.x and 5.5.x allows remote attackers to affect availability via unknown vectors.” Additionally, the reports do not reference bug numbers, so from a bit of guesswork, we might assume that this commit is possibly the fix for the most serious vulnerability — the one that can be remotely exploited without authentication. That bug, incidentally, was fixed in May 2011, and has long been present in both MySQL and MariaDB (though our implementation varies from upstream).

We notice most CVEs being reported in January 2012, but have no idea when they were reported to the Oracle bug database (or to, or when they were fixed. We believe that this is perhaps Oracle including MySQL into their Software Security Assurance program, which is what triggered all security bugs to be reported on, all on the same day.

Whether these 27 fixes are new or existing ones now being bundled up and reported in a Critical Patch Update remains open until more accurate information on what bugs they address is provided. We’re actively working on finding out the answer.