Authentication Methods

ProxySQL supports multiple authentication methods, for both frontend and backends connections.

To other extra authentication methods:

  • SPIFFE: Password-less authentication
  • LDAP: With special consideration for both OpenLDAP and ActiveDirectory

For checking support accross different ProxySQL versions check the following section.

Frontend vs Backend Authentication

When talking about authentication for ProxySQL we should distinguish between authentication methods supported for backend connections, i.e. against the databases instances, versus frontend authentication, the one performed from the client against ProxySQL. In former ProxySQL performs the role of a client, while in the later has the role of a server.

MySQL Authentication Methods – Version Differences

For the authentication methods prior to MySQL 8, i.e. for mysql_clear_password and mysql_native_password, there is no need to perform any special configuration in ProxySQL, no matter the version. This means that no matter how the password is stored in mysql_users table, and the value of admin-hash_passwords authentication should work. When talking about caching_sha2_password we need to take into account ProxySQL version:

  • Pre-2.0.2: ProxySQL lacked support for caching_sha2_password, for both backend and frontend, client should be configured using mysql_native_password.
  • Pre-2.6.0: ProxySQL lacked support for frontend caching_sha2_password, because of this, the only downside is that passwords are required to be stored in clear text (not hashed) and the admin variable admin-hash_passwords should be set to false. To further clarify, in this case frontend authentication is constraint to either mysql_clear_password or mysql_native_password, while backend authentication can be performed in both mysql_native_password and caching_sha2_password.
  • Post-2.6.0: ProxySQL has support for caching_sha2_password for both frontend and backend connections, the admin variable admin-hash_passwords is now deprecated and the passwords can be stored both in clear text or hashed at users preference.

After version 2.6.0 ProxySQL also introduced the variable mysql-default_authentication_plugin. This variable allows to control which authentication method is sent to the client in the Initial Handshake Packet. This setting will relate to the potential Auth Switches asked to a client, please refer to variable documentation and to the limitations section for extra details.

Supported scenarios

Aside the limitations covered in limitations section, ProxySQL is well tested against the possible combinations that arise from the use of the different configuration flags, together with client connection options that can affect the authentication process, these combinations include:

  • Default authentication plugin announced by ProxySQL, mysql-default_authentication_plugin.
  • The type of password stored in mysql_users.password, either hashed, with mysql_native_password or caching_sha2_password, or in clear text.
  • Wether client connection supports SSL or not, ProxySQL will automatically enable SSL for frontend connections when mysql-default_authentication_plugin is set to caching_sha2_password.
  • Requested authentication method: A client connection can initially request any of the supported authentication methods.

All the previous scenarios are covered by automated testing, and they are expected to work.

Login with different MySQL clients

When trying to use caching_sha2_password, it’s important to verify first that the client we are using has support for it. And if they have support, it may be required to supply some extra flags depending on the client default behavior. For each client, this process might be slightly different, here we are going to elaborate on MySQL and MariaDB clients. For more details please refer to you client official documentation.

MySQL Client – caching_sha256_password

MySQL client switched to caching_sha256_password as default authentication method in 8.0. Said this, when using MySQL client, to check if the client has support for caching_sha256_password, it’s best just trying to select it as the default authentication method:

mysql -h$HOST --default-auth='caching_sha256_password' -u$USERNAME -p$PASSWORD -P6033

If the authentication method isn’t supported, the client is explicit about it:

ERROR 2059 (HY000): Authentication plugin 'caching_sha256_password' cannot be loaded: /usr/lib/mysql/plugin/ cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

NOTE: Being explicit about the default authentication (--default-auth) also avoid extra auth-switchs during the connection phase, this mitigates one current limitation described here.

MariaDB Client – caching_sha2_password

The compatible plugin for caching_sha256_password password for MariaDB (caching_sha2_password) has been present for MariaDB Connector/C since versions 3.0.8/3.1.0, see CONC-312 for more information. But it’s important to notice that the plugin will only be available if the package installed was bundled with the plugin binary.

MariaDB client isn’t as explicit as MySQL client when the plugin can’t be loaded. Instead of reporting an explicit error, it issues generic fallback authentication attempt. This obscures the underlying error that caused the failure. For this reason, it’s best to check if the required plugin binary is present in the system:

[root@system /]# find /usr -name "caching*"

If the plugin is found in the system, the client should support the authentication method, the following command should allow for authentication in older and newer systems:

mysql -h$HOST --ssl --default-auth='caching_sha2_password' -u$USERNAME -p$PASSWORD -P6033'

Breaking down the previous command:

  • Default authentication a caching_sha2_password, same motivation as for the MySQL client.
  • The --ssl flag is mandatory for versions prior to 10.10. This is because caching_sha2_password requires a secure channel, but MariaDB client doesn’t tries to enable it when detects that caching_sha2_password is required. This leads to a failed authentication.


In order to simplify password management, ProxySQL tries to detect the type of stored passwords, and acts differently depending on this detection, currently this detection fails for passwords starting with *, assuming these are hashed mysql_native_password, see issue #1762. Because of this, passwords starting with * are currently not supported, and should be avoided. This detection is expected to be improved in the future.

Since version 2.6.0, caching_sha2_password support was introduced, this version presents some limitations regarding Auth Switches, this means, when the user specified mysql-default_authentication_plugin doesn’t match the authentication method later requested by the client during the handshake process. While not common practice between clients, it’s considered sensible behavior for a client trying to infer the required authentication method from the initial Handshake Packet, instead of sending the default authentication method, thus avoiding unnecessary Auth Switches. If the client doesn’t exhibit this behavior, the following scenarios, for now, are expected to fail:

Scenario 1:

  • mysql-default_authentication_plugin is caching_sha2_password.
  • Password stored for user in mysql_users table is a hashed caching_sha2_password.
  • Client requested authentication isn’t caching_sha2_password.

In this scenario, ProxySQL will be required to perform an Auth Switch, and later follow with regular caching_sha2_password full authentication; this is currently unsupported.

Scenario 2:

  • mysql-default_authentication_plugin is not caching_sha2_password.
  • Password stored for user in mysql_users table is a hashed caching_sha2_password.
  • Client requested authentication is caching_sha2_password.

In this scenario, ProxySQL fails to correctly infer the authentication that should be requested to the client, instead an Auth Switch is performed from which the authentication info can’t be verified since ProxySQL doesn’t have the cleartext password for the user stored.

Extra Autentication Methods – Versions differences

  • SPIFFE: Supported since 2.3.0.
  • LDAP: Supported since since 2.0.1.

For more information, please refer to the specific documentation for each of these authentication methods: