Researcher: Oracle Passwords Crack in Mere Minutes
Updated: Attackers can easily crack even strong Oracle database passwords and gain access to critical enterprise data because of weak password protection mechanisms, researchers have warned.Attackers can easily crack even strong Oracle database passwords and gain access to critical enterprise data because of weak password protection mechanisms, researchers have warned. In the most recent of Oracles security woes, Joshua Wright of the SANS Institute and Carlos Cid of the Information Security Group at the University of Londons Royal Holloway college on Wednesday gave a presentation on their findings at the SANS Network Security conference in Los Angeles. The duos paper, "An Assessment of the Oracle Password Hashing Algorithm," calls for Oracle to bolster its password hashing mechanism.
As it now stands, malicious users can recover even strong, well-constructed passwords within minutes, the researchers have found.
SQL>create user Oracl identified by epassword;
SQL>select username, password from dba_users where username like ORACL%; The researchers discovered another salt weakness in the use of non-random salt values. While the salt can still slow down a precomputed dictionary attack against a large password hash table, an attacker is still capable of precomputing a table of possible passwords using a common username, such as SYSTEM. Oracles password protection hashing also lacks alphabetic case preservation. Before it calculates a password hash, the hashing mechanism converts a users password to all uppercase, regardless of how it is input. Open-source databases are multiplying like rabbits. Click here to read more. This weakness reduces the number of possible passwords an attacker has to sift through in order to find an effective one. It also means that enterprises are less secure than they might assume when it comes to the quality of their passwords, the researchers said. When it comes to Oracles hashing algorithm, which Oracle doesnt openly document, the researchers nonetheless found ample online and printed references to enable them to reproduce it. For example, they found a 1993 post on the comp.databases.oracle newsgroup that described the algorithm in detail, identifying an unknown fixed key as an input parameter. That unknown key value was later published in the book "Special Ops." The researchers go on to describe the algorithm in their paper. Although they didnt discover cryptographic weaknesses in the algorithm, the researchers identified what they call a "significant computational weakness" in that Oracles one-way algorithm requires a scant amount of DES encryptions to compute a hash value. Passwords have several options to obtain password hashes, the researchers said. They can capture unencrypted Oracle TNS (transport network substrate) traffic, or they can exploit vulnerabilities in applications that permit SQL injection. If an attacker has local access to the databases operating system, he or she can also examine the SYSTEM tablespace file or the oraPW file with a tool such as the Unix strings utility to locate password hashes and associated user names. Once an attacker discovers one or more user names and password hashes, they can then use the hashing algorithm to mount an attack to recover user passwords. To protect Oracle databases, the researchers recommend strong password selection policy and appropriate restriction of access privilege. Beyond that, enterprises should use non-privileged users for Web applications, giving only minimum privileges to run the application. Users that are members of the DBA group shouldnt be allowed to run Web applications exposed to public or less-privileged users, they said. The researchers also recommend using a tool to help identify users who have access to tables in which password hashes are stored. They recommend one such as who_can_access.sql, created by Pete Finnigan, a noted security researcher. They also suggest auditing the SELECT statements in the DBA_USERS view that can be used to obtain password hashes. Encrypting TNS traffican option included in the Oracle Advanced Security package for Oracle Enterprise Editionis also a good idea, they said. Those who are running other editions can still use SSL tunneling features with tools such as OpenSSH or stunnel. Wright and Cid also recommend enforcing a minimum password lengththe length of which is dependent on whether attackers have resources such as optimized DES-cracking hardwareand a password expiration date that lapses at or before 60 days. Editors Note: This story was updated to include Oracles statement. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.