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Oracle plugs critical database, application holes

Oracle fixed critical flaws in database 10g and 9i, Application Server 10g, and E-Business Suite 11i.

Oracle Corp. plugged holes in its products as part of its quarterly Critical Patch Update, releasing patches for more than a dozen critical vulnerabilities that could be exploited remotely to gain access to sensitive data.

In all, the Redwood City, Calif.-based database and application software giant released 51 security fixes across hundreds of its products.

The CPU contains 27 fixes for the Oracle Database 10g and 9i, five of which may be exploited remotely without the need for a username and password. The fixes address flaws in the core relational database management system, SQL execution, Oracle Database Vault, and advanced queuing.

The release contains some serious database flaws, according to Amichai Shulman, CTO of Foster City, Calif.-based Imperva Inc. Some of the most critical vulnerabilities require no special privileges in the database to exploit, Shulman said.

"This means that you don't have any workarounds for those vulnerabilities," he said. "Some of them allow a complete takeover of the database without requiring any authentication through the network."

Eleven security fixes plug holes in Oracle Application Server 10g release 2 and 3, seven of which may be remotely exploitable without the need for a username and password. The fixes repair flaws in Oracle HTTP Server, Oracle Portal, Oracle Single Sign-On and Oracle Containers for J2EE.

Oracle E-Business Suite 11i applications contain eight flaws. One of the vulnerabilities can be remotely exploited by an attacker without authentication. Areas affected include Oracle Marketing, Oracle Quoting, Oracle Public Sector Human Resources, Oracle Exchange and Oracle Applications Manager.

Two flaws were patched in Oracle Enterprise Manager and three security fixes were released for Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise products. The PeopleSoft Human Capital Management software and PeopleTools are affected. No updates were released for JD Edwards software.

The next Critical Patch Update is set for Jan. 15.

Updated scoring system
The release is also the first Oracle update that adopts version 2.0 of the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). The new scoring system is more representative of real world vulnerabilities, explained Eric Maurice a security manager with Oracle's Global Technology Business Unit, in the Oracle Security blog.

"Today's transition to CVSS 2.0, and the early adoption of CVSS by Oracle a year ago, is an evidence of the dedication of Oracle to adopting customer-centric practices for vulnerability remediation and disclosure," Maurice said.

Still, well-known Oracle bug hunter Pete Finnigan noted in his blog that remotely exploitable bugs without authentication get lower scores than those that require a valid connection to the database.

"Presumably because more people have access to authenticated sessions or opportunity to create those sessions than non-authenticated ones," he said.

Imperva's Schulman advised administrators to read the technical details about the vulnerability instead of relying on the score to determine their seriousness.

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