Oracle’s April patches late….



Oracle released 36 patches in mid-April as part of their quarterly patch cycle…. unfortunately, not all of the patches were released. Apparently they hadn’t finished testing and users were advised to look for the updates around the first of May. Well, guess what – they’re not out yet and the word is that they won’t be until May 15th. This is one example of why I think it’s unwise to say that patches will be released on X date on a regular schedule. They should be releasing them as soon as they have the patch tested and ready.


It’s like Microsoft’s patch cycle. Yesterday was the big day, what if a vulnerability hits today, it would likely be something MS has been notified of, but since it wasn’t widely known they’ve held out. Yes, that sounds cynical, but I can’t count how many times I’ve read people document when they told MS about an issue versus when it was addressed. (Or when it was sort of addressed.) This is one of the things that makes me suspect that many companies still don’t “get it.” Here’s the ideal…. Company is notified of bug in software, it’s supposedly serious. They test and confirm, they figure out how they can fix it with the least “breakage” of other functionality as possible, they start testing. (Perhaps even enlisting the original reporter to test the fix.) The next step MIGHT be wider testing if all goes well. All testing goes well release.

What I’m afraid happens is…. Company is notified of bug in software, supposedly serious. They test and confirm. No public announcement has been made, so it’s put on the list of things to fix. Public announcement is made months later to encourage action. Company scrambles out patch with some in house testing… of course, if no public announcmenet is made then, eventually it rises to the top of the bug list and is patched and then tested and the patch is released during the next patch cycle. All of it trusts that no one else knows about the problem.

The recent (April update) Explorer critical update is an example of a patch that I REALLY wonder how much testing it got. It seems as though there were WIDESPREAD problems with most anyone that had HP easyshare software installed. I don’t recall seeing ANY upfront compatibility warnings, all that I saw came out a few days after the fact.

Of course, if companies didn’t have the “Routine” patch cycle date, then people wouldn’t know when to expect updates. Well, let’s face it we don’t know when to expect zero-day exploits either. Setup a e-mailing list that’s used for software security updates and let them know through that. Then just release them as soon as they’re ready. For that matter, set up an e-mail list for test patches so that they can get wider testing by people that are well-informed of the consequences of testing security patches. I guess where I’ve gone wrong with all of this is that makes it all an open process which most companies don’t want to even think of.

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