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Re: [PATCH] pg_autovacuum commandline password hiding.

From: Neil Conway <neilc(at)samurai(dot)com>
To: Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>
Cc: Dave Page <dpage(at)vale-housing(dot)co(dot)uk>,Ian FREISLICH <if(at)hetzner(dot)co(dot)za>, pgsql-patches(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: [PATCH] pg_autovacuum commandline password hiding.
Date: 2005-05-25 01:42:07
Message-ID: 4293D7EF.9050800@samurai.com (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-patches
Tom Lane wrote:
> psql, pg_dump, etc allow password specification from stdin and from
> .pgpass, never on the command line.  There is a reason why they are all
> designed like that.  pg_autovacuum hasn't been studied carefully enough
> I guess, because we should never have let a security hole like this get
> by us.

It has certainly been observed that this is a security problem in the 
past. In fact, the pg_autovacuum documentation makes that clear:

-P password: Password pg_autovacuum will use to connect with. *WARNING*
    This option is insecure. When installed as a Windows Service, this
    option will be stored in plain text in the registry. When used with
    most Unix variants, other users will be able to see the argument to
    the "-P" option via ps(1). The ~/.pgpass file can be used to
    specify a password more securely.

I think the reason there is at least some value in having this switch 
for pg_autovacuum is that pg_autovacuum is almost exclusively used in a 
situation in which the password can't be specified on the command-line 
(which is not the case for most of the other command-line tools). Sure, 
it isn't secure, but the documentation makes that clear, and security is 
not important to everyone -- I can certainly envision users for whom the 
command-line flag is convenient.

-Neil

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