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Extent of Oracle security vulnerabilities exaggerated

This outstanding and unbiased eWeek article by Lisa Vaas explores Oracle’s reaction to the rash of negative publicity that claimed that Oracle had hundreds of un-fixed security vulnerabilities:,1895,1910260,00.asp


The article notes that Oracle customers are angry; some at Oracle for having exploits, and some for the “researchers” who write and publish code that could be used for malicious purposes, such as the Oracle Voyager worm:


“Enterprises are split regarding whom they'd like to draw and quarter: the security researchers who reveal unpatched vulnerabilities, or Oracle for sitting on vulnerabilities so long. But one thing is clear: Going forward, a more balanced look at Oracle's security handling will begin to emerge.”


Most of all, Oracle claims that the reports of hundreds of un-patched vulnerabilities were exaggerated by an order of magnitude:


“But the straw that broke the camel's back came in November. It came in the form of a report from security research Alexander Kornbrust, of Red-Database-Security GmbH, which stated that Kornbrust had found some 252 unpatched holes in Oracle Database 10g.


That's a lot of holes. And it made a lot of Oracle's customers jump on the phone.


Oracle told customers that an initial analysis of Kornbrust's findings determined that the majority—164—were false positives. Oracle Senior Management of Software Development Mark Fallon told eWEEK the actual number of real flaws was "a lot lower," and an Oracle spokeswoman said she believed it was on the order of about 10.”


Vaas also notes that “assessment scripts” tend to crank-out false-positives, an annoyance for Oracle reps:


“And in the hands of Oracle customers, such tools can result in a stack of vulnerabilities, plunked down in front of Oracle reps, who then have to pore through them and explain away false positives.”


Lisa Vaas concludes:


“But going by a day spent at Oracle headquarters, the takeaway is that Oracle is taking customers complaints to heart: It's taking the positives seriously, is battling to reduce the time to patch delivery and is trying to do so while improving patch quality.


And it's doing all this not because of security researchers and negative headlines, but because of customer feedback. So for those customers who are providing that feedback, keep it up. For those who aren't, it wouldn't hurt to start.”



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