Oracle, Microsoft Warn of Database Flaws

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2003-07-24 Print this article Print

Microsoft patches three holes—one of which could allow inappropriate access to data—while Oracle puts out a patch of its own.

Both Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp. have discovered new vulnerabilities in their databases, the two companies reported. Microsoft on Wednesday issued a cumulative patch for three newly discovered holes. The first of these vulnerabilities, named-pipe hijacking, is the only one that could allow an attacker to gain inappropriate access to data, but its not exploitable remotely—rather, the attacker would need to be an authenticated, local user. Named-pipe hijacking consists of a flaw in the checking method for a named pipe. A named pipe is a specifically named one- or two-way channel for communication between a pipe server and one or more pipe clients. Upon system startup, SQL Server creates and listens on a specific, named pipe for incoming server connections. The named pipe is checked to verify which connection attempts can log on and execute queries to the system on which SQL Server is running.
The flaw could allow an attacker local to the system running SQL Server to hijack the named pipe during another users authenticated log-in. Thus the attacker would gain control of the named pipe at the same permission level as the user who is attempting to log on.
A second named-pipe vulnerability involves denial of service. In this scenario, an unauthenticated user who is local to the intranet can send a very large packet to a specific named pipe on which the system running SQL Server is listening, causing it to stall out and necessitating that the server be restarted. To exploit this vulnerability, attackers dont have to be authenticated, but they do need to be on the local intranet. The third SQL Server vulnerability is a buffer overrun. This flaw exists in a specific Windows function that can allow an authenticated user the ability to create a packet that, when sent to the listening local procedure call port of the system, could cause a buffer overrun. The vulnerability could allow a user to elevate their permissions level to that of the SQL Server service account or cause arbitrary code to run. The cumulative patch is good for SQL Server 7.0, SQL Server 2000, MSDE 1.0 and MSDE 2000. Its available here. Oracle also on Wednesday put out a patch for a database vulnerability. The hole concerns the EXTPROC executable of Oracle Database Server. It opens the door for attackers to execute arbitrary code against the database by exploiting buffer overflows in the executable. It pertains to Releases 1 and 2 of Oracle9i and all releases of Oracle8i. To exploit the hole, an attacker would need to be an authenticated user with the Create Library or Create Any Library privileges. Oracle deems the danger low, as long as users dont connect databases directly to the Internet with no intervening firewalls or application servers. There are no workarounds, but a patch is available. Read about how to get the patch here. Oracle also recommends that the Create Library and Create Any Library privileges be parceled out sparingly or revoked from all users if theyre not necessary.
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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