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Re: plperl user function

From: Sean Davis <sdavis2(at)mail(dot)nih(dot)gov>
To: KeithW(at)narrowpathinc(dot)com
Cc: PostgreSQL Interfaces <pgsql-interfaces(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: plperl user function
Date: 2005-04-22 13:18:10
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Lists: pgsql-interfaces
On Apr 22, 2005, at 8:29 AM, Keith Worthington wrote:

>>> This leaves me with two questions.
>>> 1)  Why can I not use "use strict;" or "use warnings;" as they are
>>>     apparently good perl programming practice.  I say apparently
>>>     because if you remember I started learning this language 3 days
>>>     ago and must be considered a neophyte. :-)
>> You can't use "use" instruction for security reason. All disk access
>> are denied and use need a disk access.
>> I think you need to use plperlu.
> Yes.  That fixed my use problems.  I am not sure I like the idea of 
> using an
> untrusted language.  I wonder if it causes a potential security issue.
>> 2)  What is wrong with the use of RETURN?
> According to Michael (whose email I can't access at the moment) it has 
> to be
> lowercase.  I never dreamed Perl would be case sensitive but after 
> changing
> the case, voila! :-)

Yep.  Perl is case-sensitive throughout.

>>> Another question:  Is there an issue with using the untrusted perl
>>> language?
>> IIRC you have to be a postgresql superuser (postgres) to execute an
>> untrusted language function.
> I just tested the untrusted function using a normal user and it worked.
>>> If the code is tested and working is there any real reason to
>>> continue to have "use strict;" and "use warnings;" in the function?
>> Only for manageability in the future.
> Hmmm well I have this gut feeling that it is better to use a trusted 
> language
> than an untrusted one but I have no idea if that is supported by fact. 
>  My
> inclination is that now that the function is working and tested that I 
> should
> comment out the two "use" commands and recreate the function with the 
> trusted
> version.

The security concerns are real, but I PERSONALLY write most of my 
pl/perl functions using the untrusted version.  Execution of the 
untrusted function should generally not be a security concern, I don't 
think.  There are some very specific situations where you could imagine 
things going bad.  However, in general, I think the ability to "use 
strict" and have all of the modules on CPAN available (perl 
mantra--"Use the CPAN") for use FAR outweigh the very slightly more 
energy it takes for me to create a safe function that does not destroy 
enviroment variables, write to user-specified directories, or execute 
system-level commands (like rm, as a nasty example) without safeguards 
in place.

All that said, I lead a pretty sheltered life (behind THREE firewalls 
with only three users on a dedicated postgres server box, all of whom 
are sitting within earshot of me), so you may need to be more paranoid 
than I am.


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