Oracle is out with its first Critical Patch Update (CPU) for 2017 and it's a big one. In total, Oracle is patching a staggering 270 different vulnerabilities across its software portfolio, with 121 patches in Oracle's E-Business Suite alone.
Though the January 2017 CPU is a large, it isn't quite the largest patch update that Oracle has ever issued. That dubious distinction falls to Oracle's July 2016 CPU, when 276 different vulnerabilities were patched. In contrast, the last Oracle CPU of 2016, which was released in October, had 253 vulnerabilities.
In its security advisory for the January 2017 CPU, Oracle strongly recommends that organizations patch quickly.
"Due to the threat posed by a successful attack, Oracle strongly recommends that customers apply CPU fixes as soon as possible," Oracle stated.
The largest set of patches in the new CPU are for Oracle's E-Business suite, which accounted for 42 percent of the entire CPU. Of the 121 security issues in the E-Business suite, 118 are remotely exploitable without the need for a user to enter credentials. The highest rated vulnerability in the E-Business suite patch haul is in the Oracle One-to-One fulfillment component, with a CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System) rating of 9.1.
Oracle's open-source MySQL database is being patched for 27 different security issues, though only 5 of them are remotely exploitable without authentication. The Fusion Middleware suite is being updated for 18 different vulnerabilities, with 16 of the issues being remotely exploitable without user authentication.
Java, which in the past has typically been among the Oracle software components with the most vulnerabilities, is being patched for 17 issues in the January CPU. Among the patched Java vulnerabilities is CVE-2017-3241, which is a Denial of Service (DoS) vulnerability that was discovered by security firm ERPscan.
Alexander Polyakov, CTO at ERPScan, told eWEEK that the Java DoS vulnerability is surprising as it was identified by an intern at his company.
"The funniest thing here is that ERPScan's interns found multiple bugs in Oracle EBS in 2015," Polyakov said. "So, to break unbreakable Oracle is a kind of an initiation at ERPScan."
In addition to the Java issues, ERPscan also reported a Cross Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability in Oracle PeopleSoft. In total, Oracle patched PeopleSoft for seven different vulnerabilities in the January CPU.
On a positive note, Dmitry Yudin, Oracle Security researcher at ERPScan commented that the process of reporting vulnerabilities to Oracle has been getting better.
"It seems like Oracle is now more open to work with third-party researchers than it was, say, two years ago," Yudin told eWEEK. "For example, they replied the next day after we sent them email."
In terms of how ERPscan found the vulnerabilities in Oracle's software, Yudin said that the team of researchers used fuzz testing. Fuzz testing or fuzzing, is a common security researcher technique where invalid inputs are made into an application's interface to see what will happen.
While Oracle has strongly recommended that users patch software, simply patching might not necessarily be enough to protect users from all risks. Polyakov commented that Oracle E-Business Suite in particular is usually highly interconnected with other business applications. As such, if any of these connections is insecure, E-Business Suites is at risk.
"Moreover, vulnerabilities in business software are just a tip of the iceberg," Polyakov said.
He added that business application security is usually divided into three areas including: application platform security, segregation of duties and custom code security.
"So, E-Business Suite security requires a complex approach, and of course, penetration testing and security audits never hurt," Polyakov said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.