Feeds

Oracle Database 12c's data redaction security smashed live on stage

Microsoft should school Ellison on safeguarding privates, says infosec bod

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Defcon 22 Oracle’s much-ballyhooed data redaction feature in Database 12c is easy to subvert without needing to use exploit code, attendees at Defcon 22 in Las Vegas have heard.

The redaction features in 12c are designed to automatically protect sensitive database material by either totally obscuring column data or partially masking it – for example, recalling just the last four digits of a US social security number when a search query is run.

But according to David Litchfield, security specialist at Datacomm TSS and the author of The Oracle Hacker’s Handbook, the mechanism is so riddled with basic flaws that you don’t even need to execute native exploit code to defeat the redaction – some clever SQL is all that's needed, we're told.

“If Oracle has a decent security development lifecycle in place anyone would have found these flaws and stopped them in tracks,” Litchfield said.

“Anyone with a modicum of SQL would have found these bugs.”

Litchfield said that within five minutes of investigating the redactions system, he found serious flaws in the coding. He's previously documented his findings here [PDF].

He demonstrated how with some simple keystrokes an evil employee – or someone able to inject SQL queries remotely – could gain sufficient privileges to defeat data redaction, and get access to the information in the database.

He mocked Oracle boss Larry Ellison’s assertion in January that no one had hacked an Oracle database in two decades to his knowledge. Litchfield claimed that the 2011 Sony PlayStation Network hacking attack that took the network offline for nearly two months was traced back to an Oracle database.

As a security researcher, Litchfield said he always reported flaws to vendors as he found them. But he expressed frustration that Oracle was slow to patch, and when it did get around to issuing fixes they were either broken or incomplete.

Typically, Oracle engineers will patch against exploit code, rather than fixing the fundamental flaw, he told the Defcon audience on Friday. This isn't a good approach since small changes to exploit code may defeat the new protections.

Litchfield pointed to Microsoft as an example of what could be done in database security. In the wake of the Bill Gates security memo, the entire SQL 2005 development team stopped work and went over old code with a security review.

The result down the line was that patching and flaw detection in Microsoft SQL dropped sharply, and the code security of IIS and Exchange has also been much improved. Oracle should take a leaf out of Redmond’s book when it comes to security, he suggested, and customers should demand change.

“If you're running Oracle database servers and don't like the way they are treating you on security, then get on the phone to them, because we really need to get this sorted,” he concluded.

It's understood Oracle has not fully patched the bugs described by Litchfield. The database giant was not immediately available for comment. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.