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Re: Using DD to Read Data from Oracle Datafiles

From: Tim Gorman <>
Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2007 20:32:41 -0700
Message-ID: <>



Funny you should mention this...

About 2 years ago, I was having a discussion with the CFO of an energy company located here in Denver.  We were talking about Sarbanes-Oxley.  Since the law provides for the CEO and CFO to be imprisoned and/or fined for violations, she declared, "I am *NOT* going to go to jail because of some crooked IT person."  There were about 15-18 people around to hear this, mostly academic types, all looking grave.

I was a little incensed by this trash talk, and when that happens I tend to speak more quietly than normal.  I asked her, "In all of the news stories about companies like Enron, MCI, Qwest, and similar, did you ever see a single IT person led out of the building in handcuffs?  Did you ever read about a single IT person involved in any way in any of those scandals?  Nope.  Because IT people are the most trustworthy people anywhere.  It's people from accounting and the financial side of the house who are being caught, indicted, convicted, and sentenced.  But with all this Sarbanes-Oxley nonsense, IT is first to be forced to fix what isn't broken."

She was taken aback, and then parried, "Well, what about white-hat hackers?  You can't say that they're trustworthy-- they're felons!"

I had to laugh, "They were hired for their dishonesty.  They are doing exactly what they were hired to do, which still makes them far more trustworthy than any typical financial executive scheming another shell game to rip off investors."

She was pretty upset.  It's interesting how people have gotten entrenched into their ideas.  She remains absolutely convinced that her biggest risk of going to jail under SOX is not from the people with whom she works every day, but the "nameless, faceless" IT drones who "control everything" and "have their fingers in everything".

Scary, eh?

Having said all that, it makes good sense to tighten up file permissions on Oracle database files so that "world" has no read, write, execute permissions at all.  Then, you can read papers about BBED and "dd" and write nefarious "C" programs to your heart's content, but without an account with DBA privileges, you ain't going nowhere...

Just my US$0.02...


Mark W. Farnham wrote:

While I agree, in some corners this runs into the whole Sarbanes Oxley catastrophe where the folks who facilitated the apparently false financial reports of Enron are amongst the beneficiaries of the CPA consultant full employment act to make life miserable to the most honest and honorable rank and file group of people on the planet (DBA/sysadmins).


So then the game shifts to “how can we prevent the DBAs and sysadmins from discerning real data?”


I am not claiming to know a good universal answer. Starting by hiring Dirty Harry as your HR director wouldn’t be a bad start though.


I’d wink, but the overhead to American business is so sad it nearly brings me to tears.




From: [] On Behalf Of Bobak, Mark
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 4:13 PM
To:; freelists
Subject: RE: Using DD to Read Data from Oracle Datafiles


Kevin makes a fair point.  I don't know about other shops, but our production database servers are dedicated to being database servers.  The only users who are given logins are sysadmin and dba.  I can't think of any valid reason that anyone else would need login access on a production database server.  If you limit the users who have access to the servers at all, then you really don't have to worry about the myriad of possible local attacks.





Mark J. Bobak

Senior Oracle Architect

ProQuest Information & Learning

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which shouldn’t be done at all.  –Peter F. Drucker, 1909-2005



From: [] On Behalf Of Kevin Closson
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 4:00 PM
To: freelists
Subject: RE: Using DD to Read Data from Oracle Datafiles

If you are worried about a user getting to the dd(1) command, you should probably worry about then compiling C (libc), or having shell access at all, no?


From: [] On Behalf Of rjamya
Sent: Thursday, February 08, 2007 12:39 PM
Cc: Oracle-L @
Subject: Re: Using DD to Read Data from Oracle Datafiles



You can make sure that
1. any normal user can't get to the raw (or cooked) datafiles.
2. They don't have access to 'dd' command

in addition to whatever else that you are doing.


-- Received on Thu Feb 08 2007 - 21:32:41 CST

Original text of this message