Oracle Patches Backdoor Vulnerability, Recommends Disabling SSL

Oracle’s January 2015 Critical Patch update includes a fix for a backdoor found in the Oracle E-Business Suite by researcher David Litchfield. The patch is among 169 released in the CPU.

Oracle’s first Critical Patch Update of the year arrived Tuesday with its usual volume, and some disturbing fanfare.

Oracle admins today are staring at 169 patches on their collective plates across the company’s product line. One of the more pressing fixes is for a an issue in the Oracle E-Business Suite, a bundle of applications that includes CRM, financial, supply chain and project management software.

Noted Oracle bug-hunter David Litchfield last June 11 alerted Oracle to a serious flaw that he said behaved like a backdoor, though he told Threatpost he did not believe it was an intentional backdoor such as one implanted by law enforcement or government.

“Maybe, though, giving them the benefit [of the] doubt, it could be that some [developer] was testing something and they forgot to turn it off. Who knows? What is concerning however is that Oracle seem not to know who and why this privilege was granted, either,” Litchfield said via email.

Litchfield released some details on the vulnerability, CVE-2015-0393, yesterday, explaining that the PUBLIC role in the database is granted INDEX privileges on the SYS table. This allows anyone to create an index in this particular table, Litchfield said.

“By creating a function-based index an attacker can execute arbitrary SQL as the SYS user thus fully compromising the database server,” Litchfield said. “Anyone with a vulnerable eBusiness suite web server connected to the internet is potentially exposed to this as it is possible to chain multiple vulnerabilities to exploit this without a username and password.”

Litchfield said there is no reason for PUBLIC to have INDEX privileges on the DUAL table, leading him to speculate that it’s either an intentional backdoor, or a result of poor coding.

“My first thought was that this had possibly been left as a backdoor (because it can be trivially exploited to gain SYSDBA privileges) and was an indication that the database server had been compromised,” said Litchfield, who discovered the issue during a client engagement. “I communicated my fears to the client and they began an investigation to determine when the privilege had been granted and by who to ascertain the why. It turns out that no one had—this privilege is granted as part of a seeded install of Oracle eBusiness suite.”

Litchfield confirmed that Oracle told him that its engineers looked at the bug and said there was “no indication of when or why the grants were originally added.” Oracle said in its CPU advisory that the vulnerability is not remotely exploitable and merited a criticality rating of 6.0 out of 10.

“This has been addressed.”
-Oracle spokesperson

When asked for a comment, an Oracle representative sent Threatpost a link to the January Critical Patch Update and said: “This has been addressed,” referring to the Litchfield vulnerability.

Oracle also announced that it was disabling the use of SSL 3.0, calling it an “obsolete protocol” that was only aggravated by the POODLE fallback vulnerability. Attacks against POODLE allow an attacker to take advantage of the fact that when a secure connection attempt fails, under some circumstances the Web server will fall back to an older protocol and try to renegotiate the secure connection. If the server supports SSLv3, an old protocol, and the attacker can force the failed connection attempt, the attacker can then execute a padding oracle attack against the server and eventually decrypt the contents of the secure connection.

The company went a step further to recommend disabling SSL altogether in favor of TLS 1.2.

“They should also expect that all versions of SSL be disabled in all Oracle software moving forward. A manual configuration change can allow Java SE clients and server endpoints, which have been updated with this Critical Patch Update, to continue to temporarily use SSL v3.0,” said Eric Maurice, Oracle software security assurance director. “However, Oracle strongly recommends organizations to phase out their use of SSL v3.0 as soon as possible.”

As for Java, Oracle patched 19 vulnerabilities in the platform, 14 of those remotely exploitable, including a half-dozen rating either 9.3 or 10, the highest score on Oracle’s risk matrix. Four client-side vulnerabilities rated a 10, however, Oracle said the number of overall Java bugs continues to decline. In its last CPU, for example, Oracle patched 25 Java flaws, and last April it patched 37.

“This relatively low historical number for Oracle Java SE fixes reflect the results of Oracle’s strategy for addressing security bugs affecting Java clients and improving security development practices in the Java development organization,” Maurice said.

Oracle, meanwhile patched eight vulnerabilities in its flagship Oracle Database Server, none of them remotely exploitable, and none applicable to client-only installations. The only other highly critical bugs, scoring 10.0, were found in Oracle Sun Systems Fujitsu M10-1, M10-4 and M10-4S servers.

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