Oracle XDB Flaws Open Door for Hackers

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2003-08-21 Print this article Print

Potential buffer overflows in Oracle9i Database Release 2 XDB could allow an attacker to cause a DoS attack.

The XDB (XML Database) in Oracle Corp.s Oracle9i Database Release 2 has a set of potential buffer overflows that a smart attacker could exploit to cause a denial-of-service (DoS) attack or to capture an active user session on Oracle9i, the companys OTN (Oracle Technology Network) informed users earlier this week. Oracle9i Release 1 and earlier versions are not affected. To exploit the weaknesses, an authenticated database user—i.e., with a valid log-in—is required, or the FTP and HTTP servers must be enabled in the XML database.
In the OTNs opinion, an overflow attack via the Internet is unlikely unless users connect databases directly to the Internet, with no intervening application server or firewall. The vulnerabilities are, however, "highly susceptible" to an insider attack that originates on a corporate intranet if users ignore best practices for secure database configuration, the OTN said in a statement.
In other words, the patch needs to be applied ASAP. There are no workarounds in this situation. To minimize risk, Oracle recommends disabling the FTP and HTTP servers in the XML database. Those are both installed and enabled by default and cant be turned on or off individually. To view instructions on disabling the servers, click here [pdf]. Oracle recommends that customers review the severity rating for this alert and patch accordingly. The rating is available at the link given above. For a definition of severity ratings, click here [pdf]. The patch is downloadable here.
Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for 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, 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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