In order to audit users activity in a database we need the ability to uniquely identify every individual user. The easiest way of course is to create every user and individual user account and use it for auditing purposes. But what if for whatever reason using individual database user accounts is difficult to implement, or impractical ? If we can’t use unique database accounts maybe a combination of a (shared) database account and a unique operating system user ID could be a way to go ?

The information about operating system account can be found in V$SESSION view column OSUSER, and when auditing is enabled it is written to AUD$ table, and can be viewed via related views. It is important to understand that it’s a client side operating system ID and database relies on the client software to provide it.

If we connect using SQLPLUS and database user “HR” from the OS user “pawel”, and query V$SESSION, we can see that OS user “pawel” connected to the database as user “HR”:

SQL> select username,osuser,program from v$session where username='HR';

---------- ---------------- ----------------------------------------
HR         pawel            sqlplus@arantorga (TNS V1-V3)


It looks OK because the client software provided the database with a correct information about OS user ID. It is possible to write a client software that will send false OS user ID to the database instead of a real one, and it isn’t even difficult. It took me less them 5 minutes and Google to find how to do it, and it doesn’t require a lot of programming skills. I used Oracle JDBC driver ( and Sun JDK6 U16 to write a small piece of code that connects to the database ( with false OSUSER. The application doesn’t really do anything except connecting to the specified database and waiting for user input before terminating the connection:

uid=1000(pawel) gid=1000(pawel) groups=122(kvm),1000(pawel)
pawel:~/workspace/java_sandbox/src$java -cp ../../java_test/lib/ojdbc6.jar:. OraAccess
Your current operating system username is: pawel
Enter database server IP and port number (IP:port):
Enter database name:  sample
Enter database username:  hr
Enter password for user "hr":  hr
Enter fake osuser name:  false_osuser
Enter anything to disconnect: 

Once the connection is established we can check V$SESSION view again:

SQL> select username,osuser,program from v$session where username='HR';

---------- ---------------- ----------------------------------------
HR         pawel            sqlplus@arantorga (TNS V1-V3)
HR         false_osuser     UserSpoofTest


I was able to set not only OSUSER column but also PROGRAM and a few other columns from V$SESSION view can be set in exactly the same way.

I can’t give a definite answer if using OSUSER for auditing is acceptable or not because it probably depends on more then one thing. However spoofing OSUSER isn’t exactly difficult, and if security is important to you, individual database accounts should be your first choice, even if it’s not easy it implement.

One thought on “Spoofing V$SESSION.OSUSER

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