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Oracle refutes 'SSH hacking' slur

Mystery over bogus DenyHosts listing

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An investigation by Oracle has revealed the none of its systems were involved in launching a recent brute force attack on secure servers around the net.

From the beginning of May until earlier this week, "compromised computers" at Oracle UK were listed among the ten worst offenders on the net for launching attacks on servers which run SSH (secure shell) server software, according to statistics from servers running DenyHosts software to block SSH brute-force password attacks. DenyHosts is a script for Linux system administrators designed to help thwart SSH server attacks. Around 6,800 users contribute to the data it collects.

Oracle servers - recorded as active since 3 May - featured at number nine of DenyHosts list. The listing implied a computer (or multiple computers) at Oracle UK been compromised for weeks, allowing hackers to gain access to Oracle's bandwidth to hack other boxes elsewhere on the net.

Following our inquiries last week, Oracle supplied us with a holding statement saying it was investigating the problem. The database giant concluded this investigation early this week. It says none of its systems were responsible for the attack.

"Security is a matter we take seriously at Oracle and our first priority is meeting customer needs and reducing their risk. As soon as Oracle was made aware of the situation we began an investigation, which is now complete. Oracle can confirm that none of its systems were responsible for an SSH brute force attack and the allegation of compromised computers at Oracle has been removed from the Deny Hosts website," it said.

So if DenyHosts's listing was erroneous how did the entry for the database giant get there in the first place. Reg reader Stephen has one theory:

"There are a couple of issues in the present DenyHosts that could cause a group to insert their favourite bad-guy site into the DenyHosts database. They all seem to be related to regular expression problems".

"I confirmed that one could insert false sites in by just spamming a bunch of sites with echo "string from oracle IP" as listed above. It is probably not the cause for this issue, but could be used as a cover," he adds.

We were unable to contact DenyHosts at the time of writing so the exact cause of the Oracle listing remains unclear. ®

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