DB2 Crack Lets in Attackers Without Database Credentials

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2006-06-12 Print this article Print

Big Blue promptly fixes flaw—unlike, it tartly says, some big database vendors.

Security researchers have uncovered a critical client/server protocol flaw in IBMs DB2 database. Impervas Application Defense Center reported on June 12 that it had discovered the vulnerability—which allows any attacker with network access to the database server to bring it down or to run arbitrary code—in DB2 Version 8.
The flaws severity is magnified by the fact that an attacker doesnt need database credentials to exploit the weakness, according to Imperva.
Also, due to the fact that this is a network-level flaw, attacks slip by DB2s built-in auditing mechanism. When requested for comment on the flaw, IBM took the opportunity to thumb its nose at archrival Oracle, whose "Unbreakable" slogan and slow patch times have gotten it into sticky PR situations in the past few years. "IBM realizes that it is unrealistic to claim that any database is unbreakable and that code—by its very nature—may contain some flaws," IBM engineers relayed in a statement e-mailed by a spokesperson. "This is why the IBM development teams are continually working with various security entities throughout the industry to evaluate our code and detect any potential problems," IBMs statement continues. "Our engineers then work to quickly address any problems with an immediate patch rather than leaving our customers exposed until the next scheduled Fixpack release." Oracle kept users waiting weeks for the scheduled April 2006 Critical Patch Update. Click here to read more. IBM released a Fixpack for the flaw on May 12. IBMs APAR (Authorized Program Analysis Report) IY84096, which documents the flaw, is available along with the Fixpack on IBMs site. According to IBMs APAR, the flaw results in a buffer overflow after a bad connect request causes memory corruption and crash. "A malicious CONNECT or ATTACH request sent to a DB2 server may cause a buffer overflow and instance crash, resulting in a denial of service," the APAR reads. Affected DB2 versions include DB2 on Unix, Linux and Windows (all versions, all platforms). According to IBM, DB2 users can disable or restrict remote access to the database server in order to effect a temporary fix. Users should disable the DB2 TCP/IP listener if not required, IBM instructs (set SVCENAME to NULL in the database manager configuration), or use a firewall to restrict connections to the DB2 TCP/IP listener port. Editors Note: This story was updated to remove a reference to researchers who discovered the flaw in addition to Imperva. In fact, the researchers initially mentioned are Imperva researchers. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.
Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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