Oracle to release 27 security bug fixes

Fixes address multiple vulnerabilities in database and application server products

Oracle Corp. plans to release a collection of security patches Tuesday aiming to address multiple vulnerabilities in its database and application server products.

The Critical Patch Update contains 27 fixes to various products from the enterprise software maker, some which address problems that impact multiple products. The affected products include the Oracle Database, Application Server, Collaborative Suite, E-Business Suite and Applications, Enterprise Manager and PeopleSoft or JD Edwards EnterpriseOne software.

"This update will affect most organizations, depending on what versions of Oracle software are ultimately vulnerable," Rich Mogull, founder of Phoenix-based IT security consultancy Securosis, said. "My advice is to prepare to assess and apply the CPU as soon after release as possible."

As for how critical the updates might be for enterprise users, one thing analysts say should be considered is the potential gravity of some of the fixes in question. For instance, five of the six security fixes for the Oracle Application Server address threats that can be executed remotely over a network without the need for user name and password authentication. All told, 10 out of the 27 identified threats can be executed remotely without authentication.

"To be blunt, this is a pretty serious announcement and, by issuing a release ahead of time, Oracle is acknowledging that," James Quin, senior research analyst at London, Ont.'s Info-Tech Research Group, said. "While Oracle Database is the most common of the platforms affected, the fact that so many different platforms are affected, indicate that the potential client risk is quite high with a significant proportion of the world's businesses needing to take some action as a result of this announcement."

To help identify the most serious threats, Oracle is using the second version of the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS 2.0), the IT equivalent of the US Homeland Security Advisory System that calculates threat scores for security vulnerabilities. The highest CVSS score for an Oracle database product 6.5, which falls into the medium severity category, while the highest base score for a Application Server product is 9.3 for clients and 6.8 for servers. Anything over a 7.0 base score is considered a high severity vulnerability.

And while Oracle has been upfront about the most serious threats, it was unclear in its pre-release materials as to which threats are specifically more serious than others -- which analysts say will prevent allowing enterprise users to be able to plan ahead.

"By grouping the fixes and supplying only a single CVSS score per group, Oracle is making it difficult for enterprises to determine which are the most serious threats and is effectively requiring enterprises to adopt all of the fixes at the same time," Quin said. "While this is generally good policy, the breadth of fixes required means that adoption may be slowed as the various fixes have to be tested for production impact. Ultimately, all of the fixes should be implemented anyway, but by providing individual CVSS scores for each fix, Oracle could allow its clients to focus their efforts on testing and implementing the most critical fixes first."

An Oracle spokesperson told ComputerWorld Canada that details regarding specific vulnerabilities and their CVSS 2.0 scores would be made available upon the official update release on Tuesday afternoon.

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Rafael Ruffolo

ComputerWorld Canada

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