Half of Firms Likely Running Vulnerable Oracle E-Business Suite

Two security vulnerabilities could open up companies to financial attacks and compliance violations if the software is not updated, Onapsis says.

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Companies need to patch a pair of security vulnerabilities in Oracle's E-Business Suite (EBS). Otherwise they run the risk of potential financial fraud and failing to comply with financial regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, according to application-security firm Onapsis. 

The two flaws, CVE-2020-2586 and CVE-2020-2587, could allow an attacker to make changes to the general ledger application included in Oracle's EBS, steal or modify sensitive business information, or delete information as part of a ransom campaign, according to an advisory published by Onapsis. The vulnerabilities open up the EBS applications and its various modules to an unauthenticated remote exploit, bypassing controls to allow the modification of financial data, Onapsis states in its advisory.

The vulnerable component is installed by default in every Oracle EBS instance. Though it can't be disabled, it can be patched by applying the January 2020 critical patch update (CPU), according to Juan Perez-Etchegoyen, chief technology officer at Onapsis. However, only about half of firms have likely applied the critical update, as the average company typically takes one to two quarters to update its systems, he says.

"It is paramount that companies check that they are up-to-date with the latest patches," Perez-Etchegoyen says. "It is even more important if they have Internet-facing systems as a way to allow access to their remote workforce. These applications and the patches have a lot of complexity in how to deploy them, so verifying that the patch is applied right is important."

The vulnerability advisory underscores that software flaws in critical business applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, need to be given priority during update cycles. Companies often delay patches to critical systems because any disruption in service can have a significant impact. Typically, about half of companies take two or more quarters to apply a critical patch update, Perez-Etchegoyen says. 

"Typically, it depends on the security maturity of the company," he says.

Oracle E-Business Servers are a popular ERP solution, allowing businesses to track their organizations and use of infrastructure to improve decision-making and reduce costs. The application usually supports the entire business process, from managing the supply chain to financial management, Perez-Etchegoyen says.

The software has become even more important following the move to remote working, as companies rely on the systems to help manage their now-distributed operations. However, the work-from-home trend has resulted in many more instances of Oracle E-Business Server being accessible from the Internet, ostensibly to allow remote workers in human resources, engineering, and management the ability to access the server. Over the past six months, Onapsis has found 30% more EBS instances are accessible from the Internet, Perez-Etchegoyen says.

"When a company exposes a system to the Internet, they typically do not take all the precautions that they should to keep it secure because they need to make sure that their teams have access to the services. But that also means those systems are vulnerable from anywhere on the planet," he says. "So it's important to have IT security involved in these decisions."

In November, Onapsis initially revealed a pair of flaws that could allow a similar attack. Dubbed the Payday vulnerabilities, the two issues could have allowed an attacker to execute code on the server and conduct financial fraud with the company's accounting.

Similarly, with the latest vulnerabilities, which Onapsis named "BigDebIT," an attacker could gain access to any functionality of the application, including the financial side of the ERP service, allowing financial attacks. 

"An attacker can execute and cover up transactions and then intercept the info coming from the bank," Onapsis states in the report. "There would be no reconciling of the transaction and audit would likely miss it as well."

The company also raises the specter that companies failing to apply patches could open themselves up to failure to comply with financial regulations.

"Any Oracle EBS customer that did not apply the Critical Patch Update (CPU) from January 2020 and is regulated by Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) may find deficiencies in Internal Control over Financial Reporting (ICFR)," the report states.

In a statement sent to Dark Reading, Oracle pointed out the vulnerabilities were patched in January.

"Oracle encourages customers to follow the secure configuration recommendations in its deployment guides, remain on actively-supported versions, and apply Critical Patch Updates without delay," the company said. "At the time of the publication of this report, the most recent Critical Patch Update was the April 2020 Critical Patch Update."

Onapsis's Perez-Etchegoyen says there are no indications that a public exploit for the flaws has been released to date.

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About the Author(s)

Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer

Veteran technology journalist of more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET News.com, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News. Five awards for journalism, including Best Deadline Journalism (Online) in 2003 for coverage of the Blaster worm. Crunches numbers on various trends using Python and R. Recent reports include analyses of the shortage in cybersecurity workers and annual vulnerability trends.

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