Oracle databases safe from NSA: Ellison

Database company’s CEO seeks to downplay dangers of US government surveillance

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Oracle databases safe from NSA: Ellison Ellison: [Oracle] is so secure, there are people that complain. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  January 30, 2014

Oracle Corp CEO Larry Ellison yesterday sought to alleviate fears over possible US government access to customers' private data, Reuters reported.

"To the best of our knowledge, an Oracle database hasn't been broken into for a couple of decades by anybody," Ellison told a San Francisco industry conference in response to a question about National Security Agency prying.

"It's so secure, there are people that complain," he added.

Ellison was specifically addressing the issue of cloud computing, in which enterprise adoption relies heavily on trust, since the physical hosting of data is done by a third-party provider. Analysts have previously voiced concerns that managed services providers may take a hit to revenues as part of the fallout of the Edward Snowden revelations, in which the former NSA contractor leaked documents detailing extensive surveillance by the NSA. Subsequent media reports may have given pause to many cloud-migration projects as companies seek to keep first-hand control of their data.

According to Reuters, David Litchfield, a respected security consultant, and a familiar face at top hacking conferences, disagreed with Ellison's claims about Oracle database security.

"Of all of the commercial databases, Oracle is the least secure," he told Reuters by email.

Oracle began life in 1977 as a CIA project, where Ellison and two others worked as contractors to design a database system. The name “Oracle” was taken from the codename of the project.

Ellison himself is already on record as supporting the NSA surveillance programme, telling CBS News' Charlie Rose in August, that he believed it was essential to preventing terrorism.

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