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RE: Oracle - the last word
From: Lee Kelly (robert.kellyverizonbusiness.com)
Date: Fri May 12 2006 - 08:16:01 CDT
Actually I would think this information would be only as good as the person
doing the testing, and in fact may lead to a false timeline. To continue
using Mr. Litchfield's example consider the following:
- The bugs (regardless of number) found in a day could have been blatantly
- The bugs that took two weeks to find may have been more technically
obscure, or it may be that Mr. Litchfield had other things to do rather than
spend all his time looking for bugs;
- From this, and previous postings, I am going to take for granted that Mr.
Litchfield is an Oracle expert although we have never met to my knowledge.
That being said, how long would it take a novice (or someone less skilled)
to find these same bugs. I think even Mr. Litchfield would agree that there
are malicious people out there just as expert, maybe even more so, than he
is regarding Oracle products.
- Level of effort also has to take into account when the research started
versus when the application/patch/upgrade was released. For example let's
say that 10gR2 was released on April 1st (don't actually know, just picking
a date) and Mr. Litchfield was on vacation or travel until April 8th. If it
then took him two weeks to find these bugs the 'bad guys' will have had a
week headstart over his research. I understand that more people than Mr.
Litchfield are doing this research but this would need to be factored in the
All this being said -- I am not taking the position that this information
would not be 'interesting', but I don't thing it would "provide a more
concrete answer to the question "how secure is software X."
Lee Kelly, CISSP
From: Steven M. Christey [mailto:coleymitre.org]
Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 6:29 PM
Subject: Re: Oracle - the last word
David Litchfield said:
>When Oracle 10g Release 1 was released you could spend a day looking
>for bugs and find thirty. When 10g Release 2 was released I had to
>spend two weeks looking to find the same number.
This increasing level of effort is likely happening for other major
widely audited software products, too. It would be a very useful data
point if researchers could publicly quantify how much time and effort
they needed to find the issues (note: this is not my idea, it came out
of various other discussions.) Level of effort might provide a more
concrete answer to the question "how secure is software X?"
Some researchers might not want to publicize this kind of information,
but this would be one great way to help us move away from the
primitive practice of counting the number of reported vulnerabilities.
(and while I'm talking about quantifying researcher effort, it might
be highly illustrative to measure how much time is spent in dealing
with vendors during disclosure.)