Black Hat: Shark-bitten security researcher takes another chomp out of Oracle database

Accuvant Labs' David Litchfield demos his latest Oracle 11g database hack

A researcher scored again against Oracle's database by demonstrating at the Black Hat security conference Thursday an exploit that would allow him to take control as an administrator.

David Litchfield, a researcher at Accuvant Labs, demoed what he called the PWNORACLE exploit against the Oracle 11g database, earning applause from his audience, some of whom also photographed the exploit code he projected on-screen.  In 2010 at a Black Hat event, Litchfield showed how to subvert security in the 11g database by exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities.

This week's Litchfield demo was part of a larger presentation about Oracle database flaws pertaining to indexes.

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Litchfield said he has already reported the vulnerability he discovered to Oracle and "thought they would have fixed it by now."

Litchfield -- whose arm was bandaged due to a mild shark bite from a great white shark sustained while photographing underwater from a protective cage -- emphasized during his talk that Oracle has shown "marked improvement" in holding down vulnerabilities found in its database versions over the past two years.

Still, the recent push from Anonymous to break into databases means that security managers need to "understand how hackers break in," Litchfield said.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: @MessmerE. Email: emessmer@nww.com.

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