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Oracle Tips by Burleson

Retrieve a lost Password

We need to have a solution to securely pass the password to the program to make it automated. Here are a few ways.

One option is to create an environmental variable, say, USERPASS passed to script as

sqlplus –s judy/$USERPASS @report

This is still vulnerable to attack via the /usr/ucb/ps command. The problem with environmental variables is they are visible to all users on the system, without the user having to hack into the environment. Executing

/usr/ucb/ps uxgaeww

shows all the environmental variables and the values used by all the users currently logged in to the system, including root's. The /usr/ucb/ps call is present for compatibility with BSD.

This variable may be set in a file that could be hidden. It's simple but not very secure. Another option is to create a file of passwords named .passlist . Note the period at the beginning. This makes the file invisible in a routine examination. This file has a permission set as 600, i.e. no privileges to anyone other than the owner. Here are the contents of the file

judy 5ucc355
nathan fr33w!113y

and so on. As you see, it has the usernames and passwords of all users. Next we will create a shell script to use this file named Note the period at the beginning of the file. It makes it invisible in a regular ls –l command, too. Here is how the script looks.

fgrep $1 $HOME/.passlist | cut –d " " –f2

When the user issues sqlplus, he or she would issue | sqlplus –s judy @report

The program will retrieve the password and feed it to the sqlplus executable. An execution of ps –aef on the UNIX prompt will not show the password.

Tip:  Make sure that no one types any kind of password in the command line. If passwords need to be passed from the command line, use a secured file to store the password and then use redirection to feed it to the program.

User Access Control

Once the machine is physically secured and the firewalls are protected, the next security vulnerability comes in the area of database access. The users need access to the database to perform their job functions.

When users wish to connect, the database makes sure that they are indeed authorized to access, a process known as Authentication. This can occur in several ways – the users could be defined as users in the database and then authenticated, or they may have been authenticated elsewhere and their credentials are passed on to the database as valid.

There are two ways the database authenticates users:

  • By password

  • By OS authentication

Let us discuss how they are different.

By Password

A user is created in the database with a password as in the following SQL command.

create user judy

identified by judypass;

This creates a user in the database, specifically in the data dictionary table USER$ owned by the user SYS. When the user wishes to connect to the database, he or she can do that with the user ID and the password as defined. The method of connection will vary from tool to tool. For instance in SQL*Plus, the user would connect as

connect judy/judypass

This is the most common use of authentication.

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