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01.24.14

Finding Database Software Without Back Doors

Posted in Database, Oracle, Security at 9:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A survey of competition in the area of databases, with emphasis on Free software and on security

ORACLE, far more so than Red Hat, has been in bed with the NSA. Oracle’s very identity (its name) is that of a CIA project — a fact that many people either don’t know or are shocked to discover. Actually, a lot of VC funds for database projects comes from the VC arm of the CIA nowadays. There are decent alternatives to Oracle’s databases, such as PostgreSQL [1], NoSQL [2], various Open Source Database management systems [3], and also GPL-licensed contenders such as RethinkDB, which has just received a lot of funding [4]. Oracle, which grabbed the most popular GPL-licensed database (MySQL), is still facing strong competition [5] and these are just examples from the past month’s news, not going further back than that. Then there’s the market share of Microsoft in database. Microsoft is famously facilitating NSA snooping, so it seems safe to say that using any database from the top proprietary providers (Oracle and Microsoft) is foolish and irresponsible when security and privacy are important. Back doors are now a fact, they are not a speculation. The trust is done.

SkySQL and MariaDB now directly challenge MySQL [6], which Oracle has neglected for the most part since it took over Sun and broke it to bits [7,8]. Oracle’s record when it comes to running big projects is not exactly good anymore [9] (and suffice to say its build/clone of RHEL cannot be trusted), so it seems safe to claims that for security and privacy one should choose the primarily Europe-based — with offices in 10 European countries — SkySQL (or even PostgreSQL), not MySQL. One little cause for concern is that a board member of SkySQL “worked as a management consultant with Indevo AB, At Kearney Inc. and Booz Allen,” according to this page. Booz Allen is the infamous NSA contractor.

It’s interesting that only few people entertain the possibility that there may be NSA back doors in the databases themselves, and given the role that the CIA played (historically and at present) in databases development we should pay close attention to that.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. PostgreSQL 9.1 Advances Open Source Database Innovation
  2. How NoSQL will power the Internet of Things

    Open-source NoSQL databases such as Apache Cassandra are (and will be) key enablers of the Internet of Things.

    This is the view of Jonathan Ellis, CTO at DataStax, a company known for distributing a commercially supported version of the open source Apache Cassandra NoSQL Database Management System.

  3. Open Source Database Management Systems Gaining Traction
  4. RethinkDB grabs $8M to show its stuff against other NoSQL databases

    RethinkDB open-sourced the database under a GNU license in November 2012, and the community is 4,000 developers strong…

  5. Meet the Open Source Trio Primed to Topple Oracle

    Over the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion of new databases. Several companies are offering relational databases that directly challenge traditional offerings from Oracle — databases that designed to store information in neat rows and columns on a single machine. And thanks to research papers detailing software built by Google and Amazon, we also have a slew of open source NoSQL databases — databases designed to store massive amounts of information across tens of hundreds of machines.

  6. SkySQL goes after Oracle MySQL with enterprise release

    SkySQL, the MariaDB MySQL fork company, isn’t just for open-source database management system (DBMS) experts anymore. With the release of its MariaDB Enterprise product, SkySQL is going straight for Oracle’s MySQL enterprise customers.

  7. The mixed fate of Sun tech under Oracle
  8. James Gosling grades Oracle’s handling of Sun’s technology

    The Java founder assesses how well Oracle has managed the technologies it acquired in the four years since it bought Sun

  9. Oracle’s Oregon Website Failure

    For now, though, Oregon is stuck with a very expensive white elephant and most of its residents will not be able to take advantage of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act until 2015.

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