Gartner published an advisory on its Web site just days after Oracle's latest quarterly patch cycle, which included a total of 103 fixes with 37 related to flaws in the company's database products. Some of the flaws carry Oracle's most serious rating, which means they're easy to exploit and an attack can have a wide impact.
According to the advisory, which was posted by Gartner analyst Rich Mogull on Monday, "the range and seriousness of the vulnerabilities patched in this update cause us great concern.… Oracle has not yet experienced a mass security exploit, but this does not mean that one will never occur."
Mogull said that because Oracle has historically been seen as having very strong security and many of Oracle's products are located "deep within the enterprise", administrators often neglect their patching duties.
"Moreover, patching is sometimes impossible, due to ties to legacy versions that Oracle no longer supports. These practices are no longer acceptable," said Mogull who advises administrators to pay more attention to securing their Oracle applications.
Mogull said administrators should:
• Immediately shield these systems as well as possible, using firewalls, intrusion prevention systems and other technologies.
• Apply available patches as rapidly as possible.
• Use alternative security tools, such as activity-monitoring technologies, to detect unusual activity.
• Pressure Oracle to change its security management practices.
In response to the Oracle patch release, Symantec raised its ThreatCon global threat index to Level 2, which means an outbreak is expected. It typically does that after a patch release because malicious hackers might use the fixes as a blueprint for attacks.
CNET News.com's Joris Evers contributed to this report