Application Security // Database Security
7/2/2014
10:30 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Researcher Finds Flaws In Key Oracle Security Feature

Famed security researcher and Oracle database expert David Litchfield next month at Black Hat USA will present details of weaknesses he discovered in a widely touted new security feature in Oracle databases.

David Litchfield calls Oracle's new data redaction feature for its database software a "clever" concept for protecting sensitive information. But it turns out the new option in Oracle's 12c database -- which allows organizations to redact or hide from unauthorized eyes sensitive data such as social security or credit-card numbers in a database lookup -- can be cheated altogether and also allow an attacker to exploit weaknesses in the code via a Web-based SQL injection attack.

Oracle's data redaction feature lets a database administrator selectively or fully redact or mask sensitive data in SQL query results so users only see the data they are authorized to see. Oracle also provides an update to its 11g Release 2 database that adds the feature.

Troy Kitch, principal director of security software at Oracle, wrote in a blog post last year announcing the new feature:

Data Redaction provides selective, on-the-fly redaction of sensitive data in SQL query results prior to application display so that unauthorized users cannot view the sensitive data. It enables consistent redaction of database columns across application modules accessing the same database information …

Unlike historical approaches that relied on application coding and new software components, Data Redaction policies are enforced directly in the database kernel.

But Litchfield, who is well-known for keeping Oracle on its toes security-wise with his research, tested the feature and found that it could be bypassed. "It seems there are a whole range of things wrong with it," Litchfield says. "It suggests they didn't do an assessment on it before they shipped it. They didn't [apparently perform] a penetration test on it."

"It's a brilliant idea in practice, to redact data from a curious person" querying the database, he says. The feature won't stop a database administrator from seeing the redacted data, he says, so if an attacker is able to escalate his privileges, he can access the hidden information.

But there also are ways an attacker could access the redacted data basically by bypassing the feature itself, Litchfield found. An outside attacker also could reach the hidden data via a Web-based SQL injection flaw using the same bypass techniques, he says. 

Litchfield plans to demonstrate those hacks at Black Hat USA next month. He says he reported the flaws to Oracle in November, and Oracle is currently working on fixes.

[Famed Oracle security researcher David Litchfield will discuss vulnerabilities he found in a key database security feature. Read Dark Reading Radio: Oracle Database Security Hacked.]

But the good news with this security feature is that there's no major risk today by using it in the database, Litchfield says. He says he expects data redaction to be a popular feature for protecting sensitive data.

"To be fair, it's a good step in the right direction," he says. "Even if a patch isn't available from Oracle, it's going to protect you in 80% of the cases. No one really knows how to bypass it at this point."

Litchfield is the guest on Dark Reading Radio today at 1:00 p.m. ET, where he will discuss his findings and take questions from the audience via a live online chat. To tune in for the show, register here.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Changing Face of Identity Management
Mobility and cloud services are altering the concept of user identity. Here are some ways to keep up.
Flash Poll
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7445
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

CVE-2015-4948
Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-5660
Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

CVE-2015-6003
Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

CVE-2015-6333
Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio

The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

Join Dark Reading senior editor Sara Peters and guests Angela Knox of Cloudmark, Barrett Sellers of Arbor Networks, Regina Wallace-Jones of Facebook, Steve Christey Coley of MITRE, and Chris Roosenraad of M3AAWG on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss all this and more.