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Oracle command-line program buffer overflow in argument handling

Vulnerability Note VU#496340

Original Release Date: 2003-11-05 | Last Revised: 2003-11-05


A buffer overflow in some command-line utilities supplied with the Oracle Database Server could allow a local user to gain the privileges of the oracle system user.


The Oracle 9i Database Server package includes the oracle and oracleO command-line client programs to connect to systems running the database server. These commands are the same underlying program, but take different actions based on which one is invoked (argv[0]). A buffer overflow flaw has been discovered in the way these programs process their first argument (argv[1]). An overly long string supplied in this argument may allow an attacker to run code of their own chosing in the context of the oracle system user.

This vulnerability is reported to affect the Oracle 9i product on all UNIX and Linux system platforms that Oracle supports. It was originally reported that this vulnerability affected the Oracle 8i product, but Oracle has since reported that this product is not vulnerable.

The CERT/CC is aware of publicly available exploit scripts for this vulnerability.


An attacker with local access to the system on which the Oracle system is installed may be able to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the oracle user and the dba group. This allows the attacker to take any action that the database administrator is authorized to take. Attackers may be able to gain additional system privileges, depending on how the system is configured.


Apply a patch from the vendor

In response to this issue, Oracle has released Oracle Security Alert #59 that includes information about patches. Please see the vendors section of this document for more details.


Sites may wish to consider removing the execute permissions for users not in the dba group from the oracle and oracleO programs as follows:
# cd $ORACLE_HOME/bin
# chmod o-x oracle oracleO

Some side effects of this workaround are discussed in Oracle Security Alert #59, which addresses this vulnerability.

Vendor Information


Oracle Corporation Affected

Notified:  November 03, 2003 Updated: November 03, 2003



Vendor Statement

We have not received a statement from the vendor.

Vendor Information

The vendor has not provided us with any further information regarding this vulnerability.


Oracle has published Oracle Security Alert #59 in reponse to this issue. Users are encouraged to review this document and apply the patches it refers to.

If you have feedback, comments, or additional information about this vulnerability, please send us email.

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Thanks to Oracle Security Advisory for reporting this vulnerability.

This document was written by Chad R Dougherty.

Other Information

CVE IDs: CVE-2003-0894
Severity Metric: 16.03
Date Public: 2003-10-20
Date First Published: 2003-11-05
Date Last Updated: 2003-11-05 15:56 UTC
Document Revision: 21

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