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Security in MySQL  /  ...  /  Client-Side Cleartext Pluggable Authentication

6.1.4 Client-Side Cleartext Pluggable Authentication

A client-side authentication plugin is available that enables clients to send passwords to the server as cleartext, without hashing or encryption. This plugin is built into the MySQL client library.

The following table shows the plugin name.

Table 6.4 Plugin and Library Names for Cleartext Authentication

Plugin or File Plugin or File Name
Server-side plugin None, see discussion
Client-side plugin mysql_clear_password
Library file None (plugin is built in)

Many client-side authentication plugins perform hashing or encryption of a password before the client sends it to the server. This enables clients to avoid sending passwords as cleartext.

Hashing or encryption cannot be done for authentication schemes that require the server to receive the password as entered on the client side. In such cases, the client-side mysql_clear_password plugin is used, which enables the client to send the password to the server as cleartext. There is no corresponding server-side plugin. Rather, mysql_clear_password can be used on the client side in concert with any server-side plugin that needs a cleartext password. (Examples are the PAM and simple LDAP authentication plugins; see Section 6.1.5, “PAM Pluggable Authentication”, and Section 6.1.7, “LDAP Pluggable Authentication”.)

The following discussion provides usage information specific to cleartext pluggable authentication. For general information about pluggable authentication in MySQL, see Section 4.17, “Pluggable Authentication”.


Sending passwords as cleartext may be a security problem in some configurations. To avoid problems if there is any possibility that the password would be intercepted, clients should connect to MySQL Server using a method that protects the password. Possibilities include SSL (see Chapter 5, Using Encrypted Connections), IPsec, or a private network.

To make inadvertent use of the mysql_clear_password plugin less likely, MySQL clients must explicitly enable it. This can be done in several ways:

  • Set the LIBMYSQL_ENABLE_CLEARTEXT_PLUGIN environment variable to a value that begins with 1, Y, or y. This enables the plugin for all client connections.

  • The mysql, mysqladmin, mysqlcheck, mysqldump, mysqlshow, and mysqlslap client programs support an --enable-cleartext-plugin option that enables the plugin on a per-invocation basis.

  • The mysql_options() C API function supports a MYSQL_ENABLE_CLEARTEXT_PLUGIN option that enables the plugin on a per-connection basis. Also, any program that uses libmysqlclient and reads option files can enable the plugin by including an enable-cleartext-plugin option in an option group read by the client library.