Oracle released its October Critical Patch Update, fixing 253 different vulnerabilities across the company product portfolio. The update, released Oct. 18, is the second-largest ever issued by Oracle, outpaced only by the company's July CPU in which 276 vulnerabilities were patched.
Overall, Oracle's patching updates have been growing in recent years, with 2016 set to be larger than in past years.
"This year, we have seen the updates getting bigger as compared to an average of 161 vulnerabilities in 2015 and 128 vulnerabilities in 2014," Amol Sarwate, director of Vulnerability Labs, Qualys Inc., wrote in a blog post.
The largest single product patch haul comes from the Oracle Communications Applications product group, which is receiving fixes for 36 different issues, of which 31 can potentially be exploited over a network without requiring user credentials. Oracle is also patching for 31 different issues that are now fixed in the open-source MySQL database. Additionally, there are 12 vulnerabilities that are being addressed in Oracle's namesake database.
Oracle's Fusion middleware is being patched for 29 security issues of which 19 are remotely exploitable without user authentication. The October Critical Patch Update also contains seven new security fixes for Oracle Java. All of the Java vulnerabilities may be remotely exploitable without authentication.
John Matthew Holt, CTO of Waratek, isn't surprised at the large number of security issues patched by Oracle. Waratek is an application security firm with a focus on Java applications. Holt commented that the October update is largely the same as many recent updates from Oracle, though that's not to say that they aren't real and serious security issues.
"Oracle is very serious about improving Java's security and the evidence of those efforts is the constant stream of CVEs [Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures] that are identified and remediated every 90 days," Holt said.
It's naïve to think that Oracle's Java is disproportionally insecure compared to other contemporary programming languages and frameworks that report fewer CVEs per quarter, Holt said. In fact, Java is more secure because the company has made a disproportionately larger investment in security than others have made in contemporary programming languages, which are under-reporting and under-discovering their own vulnerabilities, he said.
"Given the proactive nature of Oracle's CVE find-and-fix program, they are often ahead of large-scale attacks against vulnerabilities. That's the good news," Holt said. "The bad news is that the IT community is poor at maintaining patch compliance and, as a result, are routinely breached by old CVEs in unpatched Java versions long after a CPU update is available to fix a given CVE."
The October CPU is Oracle's last patch update for 2016, with the next regularly scheduled update currently set for Jan. 17, 2017.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.