Saturday Sep 29, 2012

New in MySQL Enterprise Edition: Policy-based Auditing!

For those with an interest in MySQL, this weekend's MySQL Connect conference in San Francisco has gotten off to a great start. On Saturday Tomas announced the feature complete MySQL 5.6 Release Candidate that is now available for Community adoption and testing. This announcement marks the sprint to GA that should be ready for release within the next 90 days. You can get a quick summary of the key 5.6 features here or better yet download the 5.6 RC (under “Development Releases”), review what's new and try it out for yourself! There were also product related announcements around MySQL Cluster 7.3 and MySQL Enterprise Edition . This latter announcement is of particular interest if you are faced with internal and regulatory compliance requirements as it addresses and solves a pain point that is shared by most developers and DBAs; new, out of the box compliance for MySQL applications via policy-based audit logging of user and query level activity.

One of the most common requests we get for the MySQL roadmap is for quick and easy logging of audit events. This is mainly due to how web-based applications have evolved from nice-to-have enablers to mission-critical revenue generation and the important role MySQL plays in the new dynamic. In today’s virtual marketplace, PCI compliance guidelines ensure credit card data is secure within e-commerce apps; from a corporate standpoint, Sarbanes-Oxely, HIPAA and other regulations guard the medical, financial, public sector and other personal data centric industries. For supporting applications audit policies and controls that monitor the eyes and hands that have viewed and acted upon the most sensitive of data is most commonly implemented on the back-end database.

With this in mind, MySQL 5.5 introduced an open audit plugin API that enables all MySQL users to write their own auditing plugins based on application specific requirements. While the supporting docs are very complete and provide working code samples, writing an audit plugin requires time and low-level expertise to develop, test, implement and maintain. To help those who don't have the time and/or expertise to develop such a plugin, Oracle now ships MySQL 5.5.28 and higher with an easy to use, out-of-the-box auditing solution; MySQL Enterprise Audit.

MySQL Enterprise Audit

The premise behind MySQL Enterprise Audit is simple; we wanted to provide an easy to use, policy-based auditing solution that enables you to quickly and seamlessly add compliance to your MySQL applications. MySQL Enterprise Audit meets this requirement by enabling you to:

1. Easily install the needed components.

Installation requires an upgrade to MySQL 5.5.28 (Enterprise edition), which can be downloaded from the My Oracle Support portal or the Oracle Software Delivery Cloud. After installation, you simply add the following to your my.cnf file to register and enable the audit plugin:

[mysqld]

plugin-load=audit_log.so (keep in mind the audit_log suffix is platform dependent, so .dll on Windows, etc.)

or alternatively you can load the plugin at runtime:

mysql> INSTALL PLUGIN audit_log SONAME 'audit_log.so';

2. Dynamically enable and disable the audit stream for a specific MySQL server.

A new global variable called audit_log_policy allows you to dynamically enable and disable audit stream logging for a specific MySQL server. The variable parameters are described below.

3. Define audit policy based on what needs to be logged (everything, logins, queries, or nothing), by server.

The new audit_log_policy variable uses the following valid, descriptively named values to enable, disable audit stream logging and to filter the audit events that are logged to the audit stream:

  • "ALL" - enable audit stream and log all events

  • "LOGINS" - enable audit stream and log only login events

  • "QUERIES" - enable audit stream and log only querie events

  • "NONE" - disable audit stream

4. Manage audit log files using basic MySQL log rotation features.

A new global variable, audit_log_rotate_on_size, allows you to automate the rotation and archival of audit stream log files based on size with archived log files renamed and appended with datetime stamp when a new file is opened for logging.

5. Integrate the MySQL audit stream with MySQL, Oracle tools and other third-party solutions.

The MySQL audit stream is written as XML, using UFT-8 and can be easily formatted for viewing using a standard XML parser. This enables you to leverage tools from MySQL and others to view the contents. The audit stream was also developed to meet the Oracle database audit stream specification so combined Oracle/MySQL shops can import and manage MySQL audit images using the same Oracle tools they use for their Oracle databases.

So assuming a successful MySQL 5.5.28 upgrade or installation, a common set up and use case scenario might look something like this:

It should be noted that MySQL Enterprise Audit was designed to be transparent at the application layer by allowing you to control the mix of log output buffering and asynchronous or synchronous disk writes to minimize the associated overhead that comes when the audit stream is enabled. The net result is that, depending on the chosen audit stream log stream options, most application users will see little to no difference in response times when the audit stream is enabled.

So what are your next steps?

As always, thanks for your continued support of MySQL!

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