4.8. The MySQL Access Privilege System
4.8.1. What the Privilege System Does
The primary function of the MySQL privilege system is to authenticate a user who connects from a given host and to associate that user with privileges on a database such as SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE.
Additional functionality includes the capability to have anonymous users and to grant privileges for MySQL-specific functions such as LOAD DATA INFILE and administrative operations.
4.8.2. How the Privilege System Works
The MySQL privilege system ensures that all users may perform only the operations allowed to them. As a user, when you connect to a MySQL server, your identity is determined by the host from which you connect and the username you specify. When you issue requests after connecting, the system grants privileges according to your identity and what you want to do.
MySQL considers both your hostname and username in identifying you because there is little reason to assume that a given username belongs to the same person everywhere on the Internet. For example, the user joe who connects from office.example.com need not be the same person as the user joe who connects from home.example.com. MySQL handles this by allowing you to distinguish users on different hosts that happen to have the same name: You can grant one set of privileges for connections by joe from office.example.com, and a different set of privileges for connections by joe from home.example.com.
MySQL access control involves two stages when you run a client program that connects to the server:
If your privileges are changed (either by yourself or someone else) while you are connected, those changes do not necessarily take effect immediately for the next statement that you issue. See Section 4.8.7, "When Privilege Changes Take Effect," for details.
The server stores privilege information in the grant tables of the mysql database (that is, in the database named mysql). The MySQL server reads the contents of these tables into memory when it starts and re-reads them under the circumstances indicated in Section 4.8.7, "When Privilege Changes Take Effect." Access-control decisions are based on the in-memory copies of the grant tables.
Normally, you manipulate the contents of the grant tables indirectly by using statements such as GRANT and REVOKE to set up accounts and control the privileges available to each one. The discussion here describes the underlying structure of the grant tables and how the server uses their contents when interacting with clients.
The server uses the user, db, and host tables in the mysql database at both stages of access control. The columns in the user and db tables are shown here. The host table is similar to the db table but has a specialized use as described in Section 4.8.6, "Access Control, Stage 2: Request Verification."
Execute_priv was present in MySQL 5.0.0, but did not become operational until MySQL 5.0.3.
The Create_view_priv and Show_view_priv columns were added in MySQL 5.0.1.
The Create_routine_priv, Alter_routine_priv, and max_user_connections columns were added in MySQL 5.0.3.
During the second stage of access control, the server performs request verification to make sure that each client has sufficient privileges for each request that it issues. In addition to the user, db, and host grant tables, the server may also consult the tables_priv and columns_priv tables for requests that involve tables. The tables_priv and columns_priv tables provide finer privilege control at the table and column levels. They have the following columns:
The Timestamp and Grantor columns currently are unused and are discussed no further here.
For verification of requests that involve stored routines, the server may consult the procs_priv table. This table has the following columns:
The procs_priv table exists as of MySQL 5.0.3. The Routine_type column was added in MySQL 5.0.6. It is an ENUM column with values of 'FUNCTION' or 'PROCEDURE' to indicate the type of routine the row refers to. This column allows privileges to be granted separately for a function and a procedure with the same name.
The Timestamp and Grantor columns currently are unused and are discussed no further here.
Each grant table contains scope columns and privilege columns:
Scope columns contain strings. They are declared as shown here; the default value for each is the empty string:
For access-checking purposes, comparisons of Host values are case insensitive. User, Password, Db, and Table_name values are case sensitive. Column_name and Routine_name values are case insensitive.
In the user, db, and host tables, each privilege is listed in a separate column that is declared as ENUM(N','Y') DEFAULT 'N'. In other words, each privilege can be disabled or enabled, with the default being disabled.
In the tables_priv, columns_priv, and procs_priv tables, the privilege columns are declared as SET columns. Values in these columns can contain any combination of the privileges controlled by the table:
Briefly, the server uses the grant tables in the following manner:
Administrative privileges (such as RELOAD or SHUTDOWN) are specified only in the user table. The reason for this is that administrative operations are operations on the server itself and are not database-specific, so there is no reason to list these privileges in the other grant tables. In fact, to determine whether you can perform an administrative operation, the server need consult only the user table.
The FILE privilege also is specified only in the user table. It is not an administrative privilege as such, but your ability to read or write files on the server host is independent of the database you are accessing.
The mysqld server reads the contents of the grant tables into memory when it starts. You can tell it to re-read the tables by issuing a FLUSH PRIVILEGES statement or executing a mysqladmin flush-privileges or mysqladmin reload command. Changes to the grant tables take effect as indicated in Section 4.8.7, "When Privilege Changes Take Effect."
When you modify the contents of the grant tables, it is a good idea to make sure that your changes set up privileges the way you want. To check the privileges for a given account, use the SHOW GRANTS statement. For example, to determine the privileges that are granted to an account with Host and User values of pc84.example.com and bob, issue this statement:
SHOW GRANTS FOR 'bob'@'pc84.example.com';
4.8.3. Privileges Provided by MySQL
Information about account privileges is stored in the user, db, host, tables_priv, columns_priv, and procs_priv tables in the mysql database. The MySQL server reads the contents of these tables into memory when it starts and re-reads them under the circumstances indicated in Section 4.8.7, "When Privilege Changes Take Effect." Access-control decisions are based on the in-memory copies of the grant tables.
The names used in the GRANT and REVOKE statements to refer to privileges are shown in the following table, along with the column name associated with each privilege in the grant tables and the context in which the privilege applies.
Some releases of MySQL introduce changes to the structure of the grant tables to add new privileges or features. Whenever you update to a new version of MySQL, you should update your grant tables to make sure that they have the current structure so that you can take advantage of any new capabilities. See Section 4.6.2, "mysql_upgradeCheck Tables for MySQL Upgrade."
CREATE VIEW and SHOW VIEW were added in MySQL 5.0.1. CREATE USER, CREATE ROUTINE, and ALTER ROUTINE were added in MySQL 5.0.3. Although EXECUTE was present in MySQL 5.0.0, it did not become operational until MySQL 5.0.3.
To create or alter stored routines if binary logging is enabled, you may also need the SUPER privilege.
The CREATE and DROP privileges allow you to create new databases and tables, or to drop (remove) existing databases and tables. If you grant the DROP privilege for the mysql database to a user, that user can drop the database in which the MySQL access privileges are stored.
The SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE privileges allow you to perform operations on rows in existing tables in a database.
SELECT statements require the SELECT privilege only if they actually retrieve rows from a table. Some SELECT statements do not access tables and can be executed without permission for any database. For example, you can use the mysql client as a simple calculator to evaluate expressions that make no reference to tables:
SELECT 1+1; SELECT PI()*2;
The INDEX privilege enables you to create or drop (remove) indexes. INDEX applies to existing tables. If you have the CREATE privilege for a table, you can include index definitions in the CREATE TABLE statement.
The ALTER privilege enables you to use ALTER TABLE to change the structure of or rename tables.
The CREATE ROUTINE privilege is needed for creating stored routines (functions and procedures). ALTER ROUTINE privilege is needed for altering or dropping stored routines, and EXECUTE is needed for executing stored routines.
The GRANT privilege enables you to give to other users those privileges that you yourself possess. It can be used for databases, tables, and stored routines.
The FILE privilege gives you permission to read and write files on the server host using the LOAD DATA INFILE and SELECT ... INTO OUTFILE statements. A user who has the FILE privilege can read any file on the server host that is either world-readable or readable by the MySQL server. (This implies the user can read any file in any database directory, because the server can access any of those files.) The FILE privilege also enables the user to create new files in any directory where the MySQL server has write access. As a security measure, the server will not overwrite existing files.
The remaining privileges are used for administrative operations. Many of them can be performed by using the mysqladmin program or by issuing SQL statements. The following table shows which mysqladmin commands each administrative privilege enables you to execute:
The reload command tells the server to re-read the grant tables into memory. flush-privileges is a synonym for reload. The refresh command closes and reopens the log files and flushes all tables. The other flush-xxx commands perform functions similar to refresh, but are more specific and may be preferable in some instances. For example, if you want to flush just the log files, flush-logs is a better choice than refresh.
The shutdown command shuts down the server. There is no corresponding SQL statement.
The processlist command displays information about the threads executing within the server (that is, information about the statements being executed by clients). The kill command terminates server threads. You can always display or kill your own threads, but you need the PROCESS privilege to display threads initiated by other users and the SUPER privilege to kill them.
The LOCK TABLES privilege enables the use of explicit LOCK TABLES statements to lock tables for which you have the SELECT privilege. This includes the use of write locks, which prevents anyone else from reading the locked table.
The REPLICATION CLIENT privilege enables the use of SHOW MASTER STATUS and SHOW SLAVE STATUS.
The REPLICATION SLAVE privilege should be granted to accounts that are used by slave servers to connect to the current server as their master. Without this privilege, the slave cannot request updates that have been made to databases on the master server.
The SHOW DATABASES privilege allows the account to see database names by issuing the SHOW DATABASE statement. Accounts that do not have this privilege see only databases for which they have some privileges, and cannot use the statement at all if the server was started with the --skip-show-database option. Note that any global privilege is a privilege for the database.
It is a good idea to grant to an account only those privileges that it needs. You should exercise particular caution in granting the FILE and administrative privileges:
There are some things that you cannot do with the MySQL privilege system:
4.8.4. Connecting to the MySQL Server
MySQL client programs generally expect you to specify certain connection parameters when you want to access a MySQL server:
For example, the mysql client can be started as follows from a command-line prompt (indicated here by shell>):
shell> mysql -h host_name -u user_name -pyour_pass
Alternative forms of the -h, -u, and -p options are --host=host_name, --user=user_name, and --password=your_pass. Note that there is no space between -p or --password= and the password following it.
If you use a -p or --password option but do not specify the password value, the client program prompts you to enter the password. The password is not displayed as you enter it. This is more secure than giving the password on the command line. Any user on your system may be able to see a password specified on the command line by executing a command such as ps auxww. See Section 4.9.6, "Keeping Your Password Secure."
MySQL client programs use default values for any connection parameter option that you do not specify:
Thus, for a Unix user with a login name of joe, all of the following commands are equivalent:
shell> mysql -h localhost -u joe shell> mysql -h localhost shell> mysql -u joe shell> mysql
Other MySQL clients behave similarly.
You can specify different default values to be used when you make a connection so that you need not enter them on the command line each time you invoke a client program. This can be done in a couple of ways:
4.8.5. Access Control, Stage 1: Connection Verification
When you attempt to connect to a MySQL server, the server accepts or rejects the connection based on your identity and whether you can verify your identity by supplying the correct password. If not, the server denies access to you completely. Otherwise, the server accepts the connection, and then enters Stage 2 and waits for requests.
Your identity is based on two pieces of information:
Identity checking is performed using the three user table scope columns (Host, User, and Password). The server accepts the connection only if the Host and User columns in some user table row match the client hostname and username and the client supplies the password specified in that row.
Host values in the user table may be specified as follows:
Because you can use IP wildcard values in the Host column (for example, '144.155.166.%' to match every host on a subnet), someone could try to exploit this capability by naming a host 144.155.166.somewhere.com. To foil such attempts, MySQL disallows matching on host-names that start with digits and a dot. Thus, if you have a host named something like 1.2.foo.com, its name never matches the Host column of the grant tables. An IP wildcard value can match only IP numbers, not hostnames.
In the User column, wildcard characters are not allowed, but you can specify a blank value, which matches any name. If the user table row that matches an incoming connection has a blank username, the user is considered to be an anonymous user with no name, not a user with the name that the client actually specified. This means that a blank username is used for all further access checking for the duration of the connection (that is, during Stage 2).
The Password column can be blank. This is not a wildcard and does not mean that any password matches. It means that the user must connect without specifying a password.
Non-blank Password values in the user table represent encrypted passwords. MySQL does not store passwords in plaintext form for anyone to see. Rather, the password supplied by a user who is attempting to connect is encrypted (using the PASSWORD() function). The encrypted password then is used during the connection process when checking whether the password is correct. (This is done without the encrypted password ever traveling over the connection.) From MySQL's point of view, the encrypted password is the real password, so you should never give anyone access to it. In particular, do not give non-administrative users read access to tables in the mysql database.
MySQL 5.0 employs the stronger authentication method (first implemented in MySQL 4.1) that has better password protection during the connection process than in earlier versions. It is secure even if TCP/IP packets are sniffed or the mysql database is captured. Section 4.8.9, "Password Hashing as of MySQL 4.1," discusses password encryption further.
The following table shows how various combinations of Host and User values in the user table apply to incoming connections.
It is possible for the client hostname and username of an incoming connection to match more than one row in the user table. The preceding set of examples demonstrates this: Several of the entries shown match a connection from thomas.loc.gov by fred.
When multiple matches are possible, the server must determine which of them to use. It resolves this issue as follows:
+-----------+---------- +- | Host | User | ... +-----------+---------- +- | % | root | ... | % | jeffrey | ... | localhost | root | ... | localhost | | ... +-----------+---------- +-
When the server reads the table into memory, it orders the rows with the most-specific Host values first. Literal hostnames and IP numbers are the most specific. The pattern '%' means "any host" and is least specific. Rows with the same Host value are ordered with the most-specific User values first (a blank User value means "any user" and is least specific). For the user table just shown, the result after sorting looks like this:
+-----------+---------- +- | Host | User | ... +-----------+---------- +- | localhost | root | ... | localhost | | ... | % | jeffrey | ... | % | root | ... +-----------+---------- +-
When a client attempts to connect, the server looks through the sorted rows and uses the first match found. For a connection from localhost by jeffrey, two of the rows from the table match: the one with Host and User values of 'localhost' and '', and the one with values of '%' and 'jeffrey'. The 'localhost' row appears first in sorted order, so that is the one the server uses.
Here is another example. Suppose that the user table looks like this:
+----------------+---------- +- | Host | User | ... +----------------+---------- +- | % | jeffrey | ... | thomas.loc.gov | | ... +----------------+---------- +-
The sorted table looks like this:
+----------------+---------- +- | Host | User | ... +----------------+---------- +- | thomas.loc.gov | | ... | % | jeffrey | ... +----------------+---------- +-
It is a common misconception to think that, for a given username, all rows that explicitly name that user are used first when the server attempts to find a match for the connection. This is simply not true. The previous example illustrates this, where a connection from thomas.loc.gov by jeffrey is first matched not by the row containing 'jeffrey' as the User column value, but by the row with no username. As a result, jeffrey is authenticated as an anonymous user, even though he specified a username when connecting.
If you are able to connect to the server, but your privileges are not what you expect, you probably are being authenticated as some other account. To find out what account the server used to authenticate you, use the CURRENT_USER() function. It returns a value in user_name@host_name format that indicates the User and Host values from the matching user table row. Suppose that jeffrey connects and issues the following query:
mysql> SELECT CURRENT_USER(); +----------------+ | CURRENT_USER() | +----------------+ | @localhost | +----------------+
The result shown here indicates that the matching user table row had a blank User column value. In other words, the server is treating jeffrey as an anonymous user.
Another thing you can do to diagnose authentication problems is to print out the user table and sort it by hand to see where the first match is being made.
4.8.6. Access Control, Stage 2: Request Verification
After you establish a connection, the server enters Stage 2 of access control. For each request that you issue via that connection, the server determines what operation you want to perform, and then checks whether you have sufficient privileges to do so. This is where the privilege columns in the grant tables come into play. These privileges can come from any of the user, db, host, tables_priv, columns_priv, or procs_priv tables. (You may find it helpful to refer to Section 4.8.2, "How the Privilege System Works," which lists the columns present in each of the grant tables.)
The user table grants privileges that are assigned to you on a global basis and that apply no matter what the default database is. For example, if the user table grants you the DELETE privilege, you can delete rows from any table in any database on the server host! In other words, user table privileges are superuser privileges. It is wise to grant privileges in the user table only to superusers such as database administrators. For other users, you should leave all privileges in the user table set to 'N' and grant privileges at more specific levels only. You can grant privileges for particular databases, tables, columns, or routines.
The server reads the db and host tables into memory and sorts them at the same time that it reads the user table. The server sorts the db table based on the Host, Db, and User scope columns, and sorts the host table based on the Host and Db scope columns. As with the user table, sorting puts the most-specific values first and least-specific values last, and when the server looks for matching entries, it uses the first match that it finds.
The tables_priv, columns_priv, and procs_priv tables grant table-specific, column-specific, and routine-specific privileges. Values in the scope columns of these tables can take the following forms:
The server sorts the tables_priv, columns_priv, and procs_priv tables based on the Host, Db, and User columns. This is similar to db table sorting, but simpler because only the Host column can contain wildcards.
The server uses the sorted tables to verify each request that it receives. For requests that require administrative privileges such as SHUTDOWN or RELOAD, the server checks only the user table row because that is the only table that specifies administrative privileges. The server grants access if the row allows the requested operation and denies access otherwise. For example, if you want to execute mysqladmin shutdown but your user table row doesn't grant the SHUTDOWN privilege to you, the server denies access without even checking the db or host tables. (They contain no Shutdown_priv column, so there is no need to do so.)
For database-related requests (INSERT, UPDATE, and so on), the server first checks the user's global (superuser) privileges by looking in the user table row. If the row allows the requested operation, access is granted. If the global privileges in the user table are insufficient, the server determines the user's database-specific privileges by checking the db and host tables:
After determining the database-specific privileges granted by the db and host table entries, the server adds them to the global privileges granted by the user table. If the result allows the requested operation, access is granted. Otherwise, the server successively checks the user's table and column privileges in the tables_priv and columns_priv tables, adds those to the user's privileges, and allows or denies access based on the result. For stored routine operations, the server uses the procs_priv table rather than tables_priv and columns_priv.
Expressed in boolean terms, the preceding description of how a user's privileges are calculated may be summarized like this:
global privileges OR (database privileges AND host privileges) OR table privileges OR column privileges OR routine privileges
It may not be apparent why, if the global user row privileges are initially found to be insufficient for the requested operation, the server adds those privileges to the database, table, and column privileges later. The reason is that a request might require more than one type of privilege. For example, if you execute an INSERT INTO ... SELECT statement, you need both the INSERT and the SELECT privileges. Your privileges might be such that the user table row grants one privilege and the db table row grants the other. In this case, you have the necessary privileges to perform the request, but the server cannot tell that from either table by itself; the privileges granted by the entries in both tables must be combined.
The host table is not affected by the GRANT or REVOKE statements, so it is unused in most MySQL installations. If you modify it directly, you can use it for some specialized purposes, such as to maintain a list of secure servers. For example, at TcX, the host table contains a list of all machines on the local network. These are granted all privileges.
You can also use the host table to indicate hosts that are not secure. Suppose that you have a machine public.your.domain that is located in a public area that you do not consider secure. You can allow access to all hosts on your network except that machine by using host table entries like this:
+--------------------+---- +- | Host | Db | ... +--------------------+---- +- | public.your.domain | % | ... (all privileges set to ' N ) | %.your.domain | % | ... (all privileges set to ' Y ) +--------------------+---- +-
Naturally, you should always test your changes to the grant tables (for example, by using SHOW GRANTS) to make sure that your access privileges are actually set up the way you think they are.
4.8.7. When Privilege Changes Take Effect
When mysqld starts, it reads all grant table contents into memory. The in-memory tables become effective for access control at that point.
When the server reloads the grant tables, privileges for existing client connections are affected as follows:
If you modify the grant tables indirectly using statements such as GRANT, REVOKE, or SET PASSWORD, the server notices these changes and loads the grant tables into memory again immediately.
If you modify the grant tables directly using statements such as INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE, your changes have no effect on privilege checking until you either restart the server or tell it to reload the tables. To reload the grant tables manually, issue a FLUSH PRIVILEGES statement or execute a mysqladmin flush-privileges or mysqladmin reload command.
If you change the grant tables directly but forget to reload them, your changes have no effect until you restart the server. This may leave you wondering why your changes do not seem to make any difference!
4.8.8. Causes of Access denied Errors
If you encounter problems when you try to connect to the MySQL server, the following items describe some courses of action you can take to correct the problem.
4.8.9. Password Hashing as of MySQL 4.1
MySQL user accounts are listed in the user table of the mysql database. Each MySQL account is assigned a password, although what is stored in the Password column of the user table is not the plaintext version of the password, but a hash value computed from it. Password hash values are computed by the PASSWORD() function.
MySQL uses passwords in two phases of client/server communication:
In other words, the server uses hash values during authentication when a client first attempts to connect. The server generates hash values if a connected client invokes the PASSWORD() function or uses a GRANT or SET PASSWORD statement to set or change a password.
The password-hashing mechanism was updated in MySQL 4.1 to provide better security and to reduce the risk of passwords being intercepted. However, this new mechanism is understood only by MySQL 4.1 (and newer) servers and clients, which can result in some compatibility problems. A 4.1 or newer client can connect to a pre-4.1 server, because the client understands both the old and new password-hashing mechanisms. However, a pre-4.1 client that attempts to connect to a 4.1 or newer server may run into difficulties. For example, a 3.23 mysql client that attempts to connect to a 5.0 server may fail with the following error message:
shell> mysql -h localhost -u root Client does not support authentication protocol requested by server; consider upgrading MySQL client
Another common example of this phenomenon occurs for attempts to use the older PHP mysql extension after upgrading to MySQL 4.1 or newer.
The following discussion describes the differences between the old and new password mechanisms, and what you should do if you upgrade your server but need to maintain backward compatibility with pre-4.1 clients. This information is of particular importance to PHP programmers migrating MySQL databases from version 4.0 or lower to version 4.1 or higher.
Note: This discussion contrasts 4.1 behavior with pre-4.1 behavior, but the 4.1 behavior described here actually begins with 4.1.1. MySQL 4.1.0 is an "odd" release because it has a slightly different mechanism than that implemented in 4.1.1 and up. Differences between 4.1.0 and more recent versions are described further in "MySQL 3.23, 4.0, 4.1 Reference Manual."
Prior to MySQL 4.1, password hashes computed by the PASSWORD() function are 16 bytes long. Such hashes look like this:
mysql> SELECT PASSWORD('mypass'); +-------------------- + | PASSWORD(' mypass ) | +-------------------- + | 6f8c114b58f2ce9e | +-------------------- +
The Password column of the user table (in which these hashes are stored) also is 16 bytes long before MySQL 4.1.
As of MySQL 4.1, the PASSWORD() function has been modified to produce a longer 41-byte hash value:
mysql> SELECT PASSWORD('mypass'); +-------------------------------------------+ | PASSWORD('mypass' ) | +-------------------------------------------+ | *6C8989366EAF75BB670AD8EA7A7FC1176A95CEF4 | +-------------------------------------------+
A widened Password column can store password hashes in both the old and new formats. The format of any given password hash value can be determined two ways:
The longer password hash format has better cryptographic properties, and client authentication based on long hashes is more secure than that based on the older short hashes.
The differences between short and long password hashes are relevant both for how the server uses passwords during authentication and for how it generates password hashes for connected clients that perform password-changing operations.
The way in which the server uses password hashes during authentication is affected by the width of the Password column:
Even for short-hash accounts, the authentication process is actually a bit more secure for 4.1 and later clients than for older clients. In terms of security, the gradient from least to most secure is:
The way in which the server generates password hashes for connected clients is affected by the width of the Password column and by the --old-passwords option. A 4.1 or later server generates long hashes only if certain conditions are met: The Password column must be wide enough to hold long values and the --old-passwords option must not be given. These conditions apply as follows:
The purpose of the --old-passwords option is to enable you to maintain backward compatibility with pre-4.1 clients under circumstances where the server would otherwise generate long password hashes. The option doesn't affect authentication (4.1 and later clients can still use accounts that have long password hashes), but it does prevent creation of a long password hash in the user table as the result of a password-changing operation. Were that to occur, the account no longer could be used by pre-4.1 clients. Without the --old-passwords option, the following undesirable scenario is possible:
This scenario illustrates that, if you must support older pre-4.1 clients, it is dangerous to run a 4.1 or newer server without using the --old-passwords option. By running the server with --old-passwords, password-changing operations do not generate long password hashes and thus do not cause accounts to become inaccessible to older clients. (Those clients cannot inadvertently lock themselves out by changing their password and ending up with a long password hash.)
The downside of the --old-passwords option is that any passwords you create or change use short hashes, even for 4.1 clients. Thus, you lose the additional security provided by long password hashes. If you want to create an account that has a long hash (for example, for use by 4.1 clients), you must do so while running the server without --old-passwords.
The following scenarios are possible for running a 4.1 or later server:
Scenario 1: Short Password column in user table:
Scenario 2: Long Password column; server not started with --old-passwords option:
As indicated earlier, a danger in this scenario is that it is possible for accounts that have a short password hash to become inaccessible to pre-4.1 clients. A change to such an account's password made via GRANT, PASSWORD(), or SET PASSWORD results in the account being given a long password hash. From that point on, no pre-4.1 client can authenticate to that account until the client upgrades to 4.1.
To deal with this problem, you can change a password in a special way. For example, normally you use SET PASSWORD as follows to change an account password:
SET PASSWORD FOR 'some_user '@' some_host' = PASSWORD('mypass');
To change the password but create a short hash, use the OLD_PASSWORD() function instead:
SET PASSWORD FOR ' some_user '@' some_host' = OLD_PASSWORD(' mypass ');
OLD_PASSWORD() is useful for situations in which you explicitly want to generate a short hash.
Scenario 3: Long Password column; 4.1 or newer server started with --old-passwords option:
In this scenario, you cannot create accounts that have long password hashes, because the --old-passwords option prevents generation of long hashes. Also, if you create an account with a long hash before using the --old-passwords option, changing the account's password while --old-passwords is in effect results in the account being given a short password, causing it to lose the security benefits of a longer hash.
The disadvantages for these scenarios may be summarized as follows:
In scenario 1, you cannot take advantage of longer hashes that provide more secure authentication.
In scenario 2, accounts with short hashes become inaccessible to pre-4.1 clients if you change their passwords without explicitly using OLD_PASSWORD().
In scenario 3, --old-passwords prevents accounts with short hashes from becoming inaccessible, but password-changing operations cause accounts with long hashes to revert to short hashes, and you cannot change them back to long hashes while --old-passwords is in effect.
184.108.40.206. Implications of Password Hashing Changes for Application Programs
An upgrade to MySQL version 4.1 or later can cause compatibility issues for applications that use PASSWORD() to generate passwords for their own purposes. Applications really should not do this, because PASSWORD() should be used only to manage passwords for MySQL accounts. But some applications use PASSWORD() for their own purposes anyway.
If you upgrade to 4.1 or later from a pre-4.1 version of MySQL and run the server under conditions where it generates long password hashes, an application using PASSWORD() for its own passwords breaks. The recommended course of action in such cases is to modify the application to use another function, such as SHA1() or MD5(), to produce hashed values. If that is not possible, you can use the OLD_PASSWORD() function, which is provided for generating short hashes in the old format. However, you should note that OLD_PASSWORD() may one day no longer be supported.
If the server is running under circumstances where it generates short hashes, OLD_PASSWORD() is available but is equivalent to PASSWORD().