Is this line bad practice from a security stance?

connect = mysql_real_connect(connection, "host", "user", "password", "database", 0, (const char *)NULL, 0);

If so, what solution would you use?


void get_credentials(char* host, char* name, char* passwd, char* db) {
  char string_path[80] = "/etc/.acro";
  struct stat sb;
  stat(string_path, &sb);
  int file_OK = FILE_OK;
  if (sb.st_mode == 0644) {
    fprintf(stderr, "Corrupt login file: permissions");
    file_OK = FILE_BAD;
  /* if(file_meta->st_uid != ???) {
       fprintf(stderr, "Corrupt login file: owner");
       file_OK = FILE_BAD;
     } */
  if(file_OK) {
    FILE *login_file = fopen(string_path, "r");
    fgets(host, 80, login_file);
    fgets(name, 80, login_file);
    fgets(passwd, 80, login_file);
    fgets(db, 80, login_file);
    host[strcspn (host, "\n")] = '\0';
    name[strcspn (name, "\n")] = '\0';
    passwd[strcspn (passwd, "\n")] = '\0';
    db[strcspn (db, "\n")] = '\0';

Edit 2

The permission check should look like this for a 700 file:

// 33216 = 100700 in octal => rwx for owner only
if (sb.st_mode != 33216) { 
    printf("Corrupt login file: permissions");
    file_OK = FILE_BAD;

1 Answer 1


Yes, for several reasons.

One, someone with read access to the binary could potentially run the strings command and look for likely possibilities near the phrase 'localhost'.

Two, if you ever decide to use the program elsewhere, you currently have the options of 1) setting up the exact same database on localhost with the exact same username and password (really unwise) or 2) altering the source code and recompiling for the second platform.

Alter the program to read its connection data from a config file in either /etc/programname/program.conf or ~/.programname/ depending on the flavor, and make it insist on having the directory permissions set to 700 and enforce proper ownership.

  • See the edit. I got server error if I took away the read rights. 644 was the lowest I got (on group and other). Also, I didn't understand what you said about ownership? (This is the commented region.) Jul 4, 2012 at 23:39
  • By that I meant that the owner of the config file should be the same user that your program is going to run as -- IE, if it's a daemon running under the nobody user, then the file owner should be nobody; if it's going to be run on a per-user basis, it should check whether ~/.programname/ and ~/.programname/config are owned by the user in question and set to 0700 .
    – Shadur
    Jul 5, 2012 at 4:39
  • 1
    Also, it's considered exceptionally bad form to use 'hidden' directories in /etc/. Use /etc/acro instead.
    – Shadur
    Jul 5, 2012 at 4:40
  • It is a web interface that reads from a database. Right now, when I use my ordinary user and start a browser, and try, it crashes if the permissions of the login file are 0700 (not because of the check). It needs read rights, probably because of the fopen line. Or, will this be OK when I have the correct owner? And what should that be? Hidden: It is not a directory but a file, but OK, removed the dot. Jul 5, 2012 at 18:34
  • 1
    If it's a web interface, it's likely running as the apache user -- run ps axuf while connecting via the browser and it should tell you what user the httpd process is running as. That's the username you need to set the ownership to.
    – Shadur
    Jul 6, 2012 at 4:24

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