Oracle to Patch on Monthly Schedule

By Lisa Vaas  |  Print this article Print


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Oracle confirms that its switch to a monthly release cycle is delaying its securityy patch updates.

Oracle has broken the silence surrounding its failure to release patches for multiple security flaws, confirming to eWEEK.com that the release delay is caused by the fact that the company is heading to a monthly patch rollup model, as many had suspected.

"Oracle [Corp.] is moving to a monthly patch rollup model because we believe a single patch encompassing multiple fixes, on a predictable schedule, better meets the needs of our customers," a spokeswoman for the Redwood Shores, Calif., database giant said in an e-mail exchange.

"While it is challenging to produce all patch sets on a fixed schedule, we are confident that a regular patch schedule is the right thing for our customers."

Challenging to Oracle, welcome by some users and, evidently, challenging to other users. "I was equally surprised when Microsoft announced they were going to a 30-day release cycle," wrote one user, who requested anonymity.

"[In my opinion], the companies are taking advantage of sysadmins who are reluctant to patch an operational system. … I think any sysadmin would agree for the most part [that] small, incremental security patches are magnitudes easier to deal with than some monster like Microsoft's 200MB+ XP SP2 [Service Pack 2]."

Not everyone agrees. Kelly Cox, an Oracle DBA who runs a small consultancy in Alexandria, Va., said she'd much rather deal with patches in one fell swoop, rather than having them dribble in as with the current model.

"I'd rather just get it and have them explain what it's for, and then if it applies to me, I can apply it," Cox said. "The only problem is waiting for that [monthly date]."

Click here to read Database Center Editor Lisa Vaas' take on Oracle's baffling silence.

The Oracle spokeswoman confirmed that the security vulnerabilities in question—which were reported by Next Generation Security Software Ltd.'s David Litchfield at last month's BlackHat conference in Las Vegas—affect Oracle Database, Oracle Application Server and Oracle Enterprise Manager. She said the commonly reported number of vulnerabilities, which is 34, is inaccurate, but did not give a correct figure.

However many there are, they have all been fixed in base development, the spokeswoman said—i.e., in the main code base for Oracle products.

Read more here about the security vulnerabilities and the delay in patching them.

But why the delay, given that Oracle was first told about the vulnerabilities between January and February? "Oracle company policy requires that significant security issues be fixed on all supported releases and platforms," she wrote.

"Generally, a security alert will be issued when all patches are ready. This policy ensures that our customers are treated equally, receiving the same level of notification and protection."

All patches are expected to be completed by Aug. 31, at which time an alert will be issued, she said.

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Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com 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 eWEEK.com, 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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