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Oracle issues patches, but misses the mark, again

Oracle's last volley of patches failed to correct at least one issue it claimed to fix. An expert worries that it could happen again this quarter and wonders when other long-anticipated fixes will be issued.

Nearly 50 vulnerabilities were fixed with Oracle Corp.'s latest quarterly volley of patches yesterday, but experts say that many critical issues haven't been addressed at all. Another concern: At least one fix issued last quarter failed to correct the issue it claimed to solve.

"Where are the large numbers of fixes expected?" asked Pete Finnigan, an Oracle expert and author of Oracle Security Step By Step -- A survival guide for Oracle security. "Alex Kornbrust and Esteban Martinez Fayo have big lists of bugs, some reported over 18 months ago,

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some high risk, that have still not been fixed. Will Oracle never get around to fixing these bugs?"

"I hope Oracle has tested the patch sets better this time," Finnigan added. "A repeat of the recent set of vulnerabilities in the April Critical Patch Update [CPU] would not be good for Oracle's publicity."

According to David Litchfield, managing director at U.K.-based Next Generation Security Software Ltd., one set of vulnerabilities "fixed" by the April CPU -- a group of SQL injection bugs in DBMS_SUBSCRIBE and DBMS_ISUBSCRIBE -- was actually left unfixed. "On digging deeper you find that the actual source of the problem lies within the underlying java class files. The April CPU fails to properly load the newer patched classes, which means that these problems can still be exploited."

Litchfield also reported the resurfacing of a second issue first fixed last August. "On Windows, both 32bit and 64bit, a second problem exists whereby an attacker can run arbitrary SQL by abusing the CTXSYS.DRILOAD package to gain DBA privileges. This was discovered by multiple persons and was initially fixed in August 2004. However, the April Critical Patch Update copies the updated SQL script file to the wrong directory and if previous patches [either August 2004 or January 2005] have not applied then you will still be vulnerable to this attack even if the April CPU has been applied."

"DBAs should take remediation steps as soon as possible as exploit code was released into the public domain by Esteban Martinez Fayo of Appsec Inc.," Litchfield added.

An Oracle spokesperson said the first issue noted by Litchfield has been corrected. "Oracle issued an alert to customers

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who downloaded the April CPU informing them of updated patch last week," she said. "The vulnerabilities are also patched in the July Critical Patch Update."

Other researchers say caution is warranted when installing any Oracle patch. "We always test Oracle patches against the bugs we have reported to them just to be sure the patches work," Cesar Cerrudo, CEO of Argeniss Information Security in Argentina, said in a posting to a security mailing list. "I personally recommend that you shouldn't install that patch on production systems before properly testing it for a couple of months or more since as we have seen Oracle doesn't have QA so you have to do it yourself."

The latest patches
Among the issues addressed yesterday are numerous security bugs in the Oracle Database, Oracle Application Server and Oracle E-Business Suite. Vulnerable products include:

  • Oracle Database 10g Release 1, versions,,
  • Oracle9i Database Server Release 2, versions,
  • Oracle9i Database Server Release 1, versions,, FIPS
  • Oracle8i Database Server Release 3, version
  • Oracle8 Database Release 8.0.6, version
  • Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control 10g, versions,
  • Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g Database Control, versions,,
  • Oracle Enterprise Manager Application Server Control, versions,
  • Oracle Application Server 10g (9.0.4), versions,
  • Oracle9i Application Server Release 2, versions,
  • Oracle9i Application Server Release 1, version
  • Oracle Collaboration Suite Release 2, versions,
  • Oracle E-Business Suite and Applications Release 11i, versions 11.5.1 through 11.5.10
  • Oracle E-Business Suite and Applications Release 11.0
  • Oracle Workflow, versions 11.5.1 through
  • Oracle Forms and Reports, versions,
  • Oracle JInitiator, versions 1.1.8, 1.3.1
  • Oracle Developer Suite, versions, 9.0.4,, 9.0.5, 10.1.2
  • Oracle Express Server, version

Oracle offered few details on the flaws, but a risk matrix is available on its site.

Chicago-based Integrigy Corp. said, "Customers with Internet-facing implementations of the Oracle E-Business Suite should consider applying these patches as soon as possible. It is possible that an attacker with only a Web browser and a network connection [either internally or externally] to Oracle E-Business Suite Web application servers can execute malicious SQL statements in the database as the APPS database account."

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