MySQL Security – Best Practices (Secure MySQL Installation)

MySQL Security – Best Practices (Secure MySQL Installation). In this post, we have listed some of the common security threats and best practices that users must adapt to ensure the safety of their MySQL databases.

MySQL is a widely used open source relational database management system that stores data in tables organized into rows and columns. The rows represent records or items, and the columns represent fields that contain information about each item.

All in all, MySQL is a very popular choice because it is easy to use and it offers high performance, reliability, and scalability.

Today, many high profile organizations, such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon use MySQL for various purposes. With many benefits, it also has various risks. This is why MySQL security has been a major concern for many users and developers over the years. As a result, it has become one of the most popular databases to be targeted by attackers.

Well, let’s start this article blog about MySQL Security – Best Practices (Secure MySQL Installation).

MySQL Common Security Threats

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In this section, we go over some of the common security threats that MySQL faces and how to prevent them.

SQL Injection Attacks

One of the most common security threats for MySQL databases is SQL injection attacks. Well, the attacker tries to make changes to a database through a web application by entering commands into form fields or clicking links on a web page. They also inject malicious code into an SQL query that is sent as part of an HTTP request if they have access to it.

Concurrently, you either disable remote connections or use parameterized queries in your coding languages such as PHP, Python, or Ruby on Rails where parameters are used instead of user input for constructing SQL queries.

DDoS Attacks

In a DDoS Attack, the attacker floods the target with traffic from multiple sources. They send requests from many machines at the same time, or prefer sending a large number of requests in a short amount of time.

The result is that the server becomes overloaded and either slows down or crashes. To protect against this type of attack, it’s important to ensure that your servers are prepared for heavy loads. Close open connections or limit maximum connections to mitigate DDoS attacks.

Weak Passwords

Another key point is to remember, that it is very important to use strong passwords on MySQL databases. Equally, this is because weak passwords are easy to break and lead to a breach of security. Use the following steps in order to create a strong password:

  • Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols like Ds!@#$%^&*()_+-=?[]:”/\|<>?
  • Try not to use common words, phrases, or names from the dictionary.
  • Avoid using any personal information (e.g., family member’s name, birth date).
  • Choose a password that has more than 8 characters for better security.

Mismanagement of Account Access

Evidently, account access is unauthorized access to an account or information. A serious cyber security threat that leads to data theft, financial losses, and reputational damage.

Unintentional mismanagement of access rights or unauthorized use of account credentials cripples your database. Also, accidental disclosure of sensitive information ruins the data saved in the database.

The only way to the security threat is to give the least amount of privileges to employees. Also, only allow root accounts access to critical components like the user table in the MySQL system database.

How to Secure MySQL Installation

Securing MySQL installation is one of the most important step after installing MySQL server. Well, MySQL has built in mysql_secure_installation script that allows you to improve the security of your MySQL server.

However, you run the mysql_secure_installation script via command line terminal as shown below:


Then, you will be asked to set a root password as shown below:

Please, set your root password and press the Enter key. After, you will be asked to remove anonymous users:

Type Y and press the Enter key. In the next step, you will be asked to disable remote root user login:

Enter Y and press the Enter key. Following, you will be asked to remove the test database:

Type Y and press the Enter key. After, you will be asked to reload the privilege table:

Finally, enter Y and press the Enter key to secure the MySQL server installation.

MySQL Security - Best Practices

Security is one of the most important aspects of MySQL. Therefore, necessary to ensure that all the data in the database is safe and secure. The following are some of the best practices to follow for MySQL security:

1. Use MySQL's Most Recent Version

The latest versions of MySQL offer better security features and patches that aid in preventing vulnerabilities. For instance, the role based access control supported by the new versions allow administrators to control what users do inside the database.

Hence, if you are still using an older version of MySQL upgrade it is to fix the known vulnerabilities.

2. Make all connections SSL Compatible

Without SSL, all the communication between the MySQL server and clients is sent in plain text. As a result, if a hacker were to intercept the traffic, they could easily access it, read the data and even modify it.

By enabling SSL, you ensure that all the data is encrypted and only the intended recipient can decrypt it.

If you want to enable SSL, you must create a certificate and key pair via the OpenSSL tool. Once you have them ready, the next step is to configure MySQL in order to use it.

3. Don't use root account

If you are using MySQL, it is important to not use root accounts to avoid potential threats.

We recommend to create different users for different applications and assign them the appropriate privileges. This helps you to keep your data safe and secure.

4. Regularly evaluate the security of your database

Regularly check for any unauthorized access attempts or unusual activity on your website by using a service like Google Analytics Audience Intelligence (AI). Also, keep up with the latest security updates by installing any new software updates as soon as they come out.

5. Upgrade database server security

Make sure that your database server is only reachable from reputable networks. Set up a firewall to only allow traffic from trusted IP addresses to reach your database server.

If you need to give remote access to your database server, you should also think about employing a VPN. All communication between the client and server will be encrypted as a result, making it far more difficult for attackers to eavesdrop on the connection.

6. Track database activity, perform regular backups, and keep them offline

Keep track of your database activities and look for any changes made to the data. This is useful in situations where data needs to be audited or to find out if any unauthorized changes were made.

The database should also have a regular backup routine that runs at a pre determined interval and stores the backup in an offline location. This ensures that there is always a copy of the database available even if the primary location becomes inaccessible.

7. Limit Account Access and Privileges

If you have more accounts and privileges, there is a high chance that one of your accounts or credentials will get compromised. But, if you reduce your count of accounts or minimize privileges, you prevent fraud or attack surface. Fewer privileges imply attackers will need to try harder to gain access and attack your database.

So, first and foremost, remove all your unnecessary accounts and privileges. Go through your accounts and eliminate the ones that you no longer require and revoke any unused privileges.

8. Limit access to databases, tables, and columns

A database is a collection of tables that store data. These tables can be accessed through columns and rows and can potentially wreak havoc. Furthermore, the user limits access to these databases, tables, and columns by using the GRANT command in MySQL.

Henceforth, the GRANT command is used to grant a specific privilege to a specific user on a specific database, table, or column. This comes in handy when you have different users with different levels of access to your databases, tables, or columns.

9. Choose a strong password with hashing algorithms and enable two factor authentication

Indeed, to store passwords in databases securely, most organizations use hashing algorithms. They are primarily used when the database containing user passwords needs to be protected from unauthorized access and/or malicious attacks.

If you want to keep your database safe, there are a few things that you should do on a regular basis. First, make sure that you have strong passwords for all of your accounts and change them regularly so that hackers cannot easily guess them. Try to use a more secure algorithm such as SHA-256 or SHA-512.

Secondly, use two factor authentication for any services that offer it so that anyone who tries to log in from an unrecognized device will need both their password and a code sent to their phone before they access anything.

10. Protect sensitive data using encryption

Encryption is a way of transforming information by using mathematical algorithms. Even more, the information is transformed in such a way that it is only read by someone with the key to decrypt it. Indeed, encryption is one of the most important ways to protect sensitive data from cyber attacks and other unauthorized access.

Markedly, encryption is used for many purposes, but the most common use cases are for securing data in transit and data at rest. In transit, encryption ensures that the information cannot be intercepted by third parties during its transmission through a network, whereas encryption at rest prevents unauthorized access to stored data on devices and databases.

To encrypt data in MySQL, you use SSL/TLS or functions like AES_ENCRYPT() and AES_DECRYPT(). Also, you also rely on third party tools like Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) to encrypt data in MySQL.

11. Do not store sensitive data in plain text

Moreover, MySQL is a database system that stores data in tables organized into rows and columns. Rows represent records, while columns represent fields. Fields can be of any type, such as integers, strings, or dates.

When you create a table in MySQL, you must specify the types of fields that it will contain and how they are to be used. Given that, you also add constraints to your table to ensure that the data stored meets certain specifications. For example, you might want to enforce a minimum length for a string field or restrict the type of values that is inserted into an integer field.

Particularly, MySQL does not encrypt the data stored within its databases by default. So if someone gains access to your database server (either locally or remotely), then they will be able to read all of your sensitive information without needing any special privileges on the server itself. This is why it’s important not only to control access and reduce privileges but also to avoid storing data in plain text.

12. Run security audits

Last, a security audit helps identify weaknesses, faults, and errors in your system. By running regular audits, you address most of your issues before they get exploited. Further, it helps maintain system security.

Thank you for reading MySQL Security – Best Practices (Secure MySQL Installation). We shall conclude.

MySQL Security - Best Practices (Secure MySQL Installation) Conclusion

Summing up, MySQL is one of the most popular open source relational database management systems in the world. Many companies and high profile organizations like Amazon use MySQL to store data.

With so many advantages to MySQL, you must also prepare yourself for the incoming risks. Crucial part is the security of your database for the success of your business. If you don’t take the appropriate measures, it can be hacked and all of your data will be at risk.

Hence, we have listed some of the common threats and practices that will help keep your data in the database safe and secure.

To read more about MySQL, please head over to our blog for more content over here

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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