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Oracle releases patches for more than 100 flaws

Oracle releases patches for more than 100 flaws

Oracle on Tuesday released patches addressing more than 100 separate vulnerabilities in its database and application server software, as well as in its collaboration and e-business suites.

The patches, which are part of Oracle's scheduled quarterly updates, included fixes for flaws in its PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards portfolios..

A large number of the flaws affecting Oracle's databases were listed as having a "wide" impact on database availability, integrity and confidentiality.

For instance, one of the them is a vulnerability in Oracle databases that enables any user with basic access privileges to assume the role of a database administrator. The flaw, first reported to Oracle in October by database security firm Imperva Inc., also allows would-be attackers to prevent illegal activity from being recorded by the database server's built-in auditing mechanism, said Shlomo Kramer, Imperva's CEO.

This is the second batch of patches to be released by Oracle since the company moved to a quarterly schedule last fall. Oracle's next patch update is slated for April 12.

Under its Critical Patch Update program, Oracle has said that it will release highly integrated patches that combine fixes for multiple high-priority vulnerabilities. The patches are cumulative, meaning users who miss applying patches one quarter can apply a cumulative update the following quarter that addresses both the previous problems and any new ones that might have cropped up.

"Oracle has made a great deal of improvement over the past year in [its] security response processes but there is still a long way to go," said David Litchfield, managing director of security research firm Next Generation Security Software.

Litchfield discovered one of the flaws addressed by Oracle in the update released Tuesday. The "PL/SQL injection flaws" reported by Litchfield allow users with limited privileges to gain administrative control of Oracle databases.

"Every critical update update so far has been flawed in some fashion or another and has been re-released multiple times," Litchfield said in an e-mailed comment to Computerworld. "This means anyone that installs the patchset on day zero should expect to reinstall it several times more before the next critical update," he said.

Oracle's quarterly release schedule may also not be in the best interests of users, Kramer said.

"I think the fact that vulnerabilities as severe as [the one reported by Imperva] remain unaddressed for so long is scary," Kramer said. "It basically leaves customers vulnerable and unprotected for too long."

The fact that Oracle has released very few details of the vulnerabilties addressed by Tuesday's update is also troubling, he said.

"If you look at today's update, it is very obscure," Kramer said. "I think what is needed is for the users to understand what the critical problems are" so they can address them first.

Oracle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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