Oracle's missteps during the TNS Poison disclosure debacle highlight its ongoing failures in helping customers secure their databases.
Last week Oracle bumped heads with the database security community in a communications blunder that caused a proof of concept to be released for an unpatched four-year-old vulnerability in the database's TNS Listener service. This week Oracle released a workaround, but still no patch, reigniting critics' claims that the company is neglecting its database customers with shoddy patching practices.
Security professionals believe that Oracle is hurting its database customers through security negligence. Here are their charges. Dark Reading did try to contact Oracle for this article, but the company did not respond to inquiries.
1. Failing to play nice with researchers
According to security researcher Joxean Koret, the events that unfolded around the TNS Poison vulnerability are emblematic of Oracle's relationship with the research community and its customers. The drama started when the company credited Koret for a hand in its Critical Patch Update and told him in a separate email exchange that it had fixed a vulnerability he disclosed to the company in 2008.
"Oracle said the vulnerability was fixed. I decided to publish details about the vulnerability, fully believing it was fixed; so far, so good," Koret told Dark Reading. "Then it turned out the vulnerability wasn't fixed at all and there was no patch because, they said: 'the vulnerability was fixed in later versions.'"
In other words, Oracle did not release a patch for the vulnerability but instead only fixed the issue in code destined for future releases of its database products.
Koret believes that Oracle willfully misled him and the rest of its customer base in order to improve its statistics on closing out unresolved vulnerabilities disclosed by outside researchers.
"Probably, they decided to say that vulnerabilities are fixed even when there is no available patch because of the bad reputation they have fixing vulnerabilities. This way, they can say they fixed a vulnerability in a shorter time," says Koret, who called the situation a tragicomedy.
Regardless of intentions, the incident wasn't Oracle's finest moment, says database security guru Alexander Kornbrust, who agrees that Oracle dropped the ball on this one.
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