[ISN] Oracle to Patch on Monthly Schedule

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Thu Aug 19 12:01:29 EDT 2004


By Lisa Vaas 
August 18, 2004  

Oracle has broken the silence surrounding its failure to release
patches for multiple security flaws, confirming to eWEEK.com that the
release delay is caused by the fact that the company is heading to a
monthly patch rollup model, as many had suspected.

"Oracle [Corp.] is moving to a monthly patch rollup model because we
believe a single patch encompassing multiple fixes, on a predictable
schedule, better meets the needs of our customers," a spokeswoman for
the Redwood Shores, Calif., database giant said in an e-mail exchange.

"While it is challenging to produce all patch sets on a fixed
schedule, we are confident that a regular patch schedule is the right
thing for our customers."

Challenging to Oracle, welcome by some users and, evidently,
challenging to other users. "I was equally surprised when Microsoft
announced they were going to a 30-day release cycle," wrote one user,
who requested anonymity.

"[In my opinion], the companies are taking advantage of sysadmins who
are reluctant to patch an operational system. - I think any sysadmin
would agree for the most part [that] small, incremental security
patches are magnitudes easier to deal with than some monster like
Microsoft's 200MB+ XP SP2 [Service Pack 2]."

Not everyone agrees. Kelly Cox, an Oracle DBA who runs a small
consultancy in Alexandria, Va., said she'd much rather deal with
patches in one fell swoop, rather than having them dribble in as with
the current model.

"I'd rather just get it and have them explain what it's for, and then
if it applies to me, I can apply it," Cox said. "The only problem is
waiting for that [monthly date]."

The Oracle spokeswoman confirmed that the security vulnerabilities in
question - which were reported by Next Generation Security Software
Ltd.'s David Litchfield at last month's BlackHat conference in Las
Vegas - affect Oracle Database, Oracle Application Server and Oracle
Enterprise Manager. She said the commonly reported number of
vulnerabilities, which is 34, is inaccurate, but did not give a
correct figure.

However many there are, they have all been fixed in base development,
the spokeswoman said - i.e., in the main code base for Oracle

But why the delay, given that Oracle was first told about the
vulnerabilities between January and February? "Oracle company policy
requires that significant security issues be fixed on all supported
releases and platforms," she wrote.

"Generally, a security alert will be issued when all patches are
ready. This policy ensures that our customers are treated equally,
receiving the same level of notification and protection."

All patches are expected to be completed by Aug. 31, at which time an
alert will be issued, she said.

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