Security: a federal case

Tuesday, 7 October 2003, 9:45 AM EST

The department of energy has done something unusual for a federal agency. It has become an example of excellent cyber-security practice. It has done this by pressuring Oracle to elevate security in its 9i database product—in the process, taking software out of the shadows of "as is" licenses and putting it in the spotlight of a government procurement action. DOE's action could begin a process that improves the security of the technologies available to the public and private sectors alike.

To win this open-ended deal, Oracle promised to deliver its database in a secure configuration and took responsibility for the security of the software going forward. Future patches must be delivered quickly and cannot create new problems or vulnerabilities if Oracle wants to continue getting paid. It's the kind of vendor commitment that every enterprise merits but that only the $59 billion IT buying power of the federal government can effect right now.

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