Critical vulnerabilities in Oracle servers in the wild

Pierluigi Paganini February 02, 2014

Researcher Dana Taylor is warning on the existence of two critical vulnerabilities in Oracle servers in the wild since a long time.

Two serious vulnerabilities affect Oracle’s older database packages, allowing an attacker to remotely access a server bypassing authentication mechanism. Exploiting the flaws the attackers can browse the filesystem of the server accessing any files. It seems an ordinary story of a product flaw that waits for its patch, in reality the vulnerability was reported more than two years ago and it is still not fixed with scaring consequences. The researcher, Dana Taylor, reported an authentication vulnerability, which affects Oracle Forms and Reports 10g and 11g, an attacker could exploit it to dump the list of database passwords without authenticating. Also, older version could be affected by the same flaw. The vulnerability it is likely to affect also older version, but Oracle classified it as a configuration error. As anticipated the second vulnerability gives to the attackers even more privileges, it allows to view and copy the server’s file system, dump any file that the Oracle account can access, and execute other operations on the server and network. Also in this case the researcher reported the flaw to Oracle, that once again rejected is as a configuration error.

“As you requested, we have reviewed your original report and had additional discussions with our development group. We have concluded that this issue does in fact constitute a vulnerability,” replied Oracle.


When Taylor menaced to disclose the vulnerabilities, Oracle agreed to consider them as flaws and after various months it published a patch that anyway hasn’t fixed the bugs.

“Yes, absolutely. When I reported the parsed query vulnerability they said it wasn’t a vulnerability but a configuration error. So I told them okay, then I am going to publish this. They came back the same day and stated that in fact, it is a vulnerability and gave me a tracking number. From what I can tell they didn’t actually fix this vulnerability but obfuscated it by instructing customers to disable “diagnostic output”. I have tested this on their latest release of Weblogic/Oracle Reports 11g. The vulnerability still exists. Some customers may not be able to disable diagnostic output for one reason or another and could still be vulnerable. And to clarify, this didn’t just affect 11g but 9i to 11g,” Taylor said.

Oracle released a patch only for version 11.x, proposing simple workarounds for older versions, suggesting that customers upgrade to newer versions in order to protect themselves. After Taylor has published a POC on the vulnerabilities other security experts focused their efforts to demonstrate the repercussions for the exploitations of the flaws, the researcher mentioned someone who sent her a video that shows an attack using based on the used of Shodan search engine to find vulnerable servers and retrieve passwords.

“The author of the exploit and video above was brilliant but it put me into a state of shock to see the real impact of these vulnerabilities on such a massive scale. I did NOT want to release these exploits and was under great distress in even thinking about it. I felt I had no choice, however. So seeing this video didn’t put a smile on my face but made me aware of how devastating these vulnerabilities actually are,” “Oracle servers often have ssh keys that allow sharing of data between other trusted Oracle servers and require no password. So, if you break into one Oracle server on a network you are likely able to break into numerous others. For Windows servers exploiting ‘pass the hash attacks’ are being discussed. Another thing that is frightening is that once you gain a remote shell on an Oracle server you can use /nolog to gain sysdba privileges to the database.”  Taylor said.

Many researchers are also working on the possibility to create automated scripts to exploit the Oracle vulnerabilities remotely, Metasploit for example, provides the necessary environment to run the code for this specific purpose.  Let’s think of the possible effect of a botnet that could conduct a massive attack against Oracle servers, despite Oracle is considerable a giant, its approach to security in this case could expose it customers to serious risks.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  Oracle servers, hacking)

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