Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oracle and Security

Since I used to be an Oracle DBA (still hold the title, just not the job), and since I work in the security field now, I find this article quite interesting.

I have to mention I have never met a single DBA which manages over 500 DBs on his own. That number doesn't sound rational at all, but hey, if one of you reading this blog actually do that, please leave a note, as I'd love to hear how it is.

Now I wonder, what future features does Oracle plan for its latest hardware platform. Does built-in filesystem encryption sounds too far-fetched?


  1. Hi Moshe,
    I believe that most of the security issues with Oracle are around organizational policies and procedures and not technology. Things like having the same short password for everything without ever changing it, or not allocating time for installing security patches etc.
    As for the number of databases, the numbers indeed seems big, I guess it means that the DBA *team* handles 500+ databases (and each DBA can support them all).
    As for encryption - I personally think that encryption is not the killer-application for database security. Sure, encrypting backups is a must, and many still fails to do it.
    However, file system encryption can only affect attackers who gained access to the physical server, while the database is usually open and accesible over the network - easier, bigger attack vector :)

  2. Ofir, I couldn't agree with you more.
    I must say I sinned with the same mistakes when it comes to securing the database network, or having better password replacement policy.

    When it comes to encryption, what I meant was encrypting the data inside the DB, so only users who present the right certificate and credentials would gain access to it, and not every punk which happens to guess the system password.

  3. I have obviously sinned in the same way - I preferred convenience over annoying security (though my time as a DBA was a long time ago in an organization not connected to the internet).
    What you are saying about encryption is interesting - you suggest encryption as an access control mechanism, since you assume that database authentication will be broken (due to incompetence of the admins)... and where would you store / manage the keys for your users if you can't trust authentication? in the database? in the app server? in your LDAP? it is a mess either way.
    BTW, when you wished for a builtin filesystem encryption, did you mean something like full tablespace encryption (encrypting data-at-rest)? If so, it is already available in 11g (part of Advanced Security Option):
    and step-by-step here: