Oracle has published a collection of software patches that address security vulnerabilities in a range of the company's products, including its database and application server software.

Included in the updates, released Tuesday, are 14 fixes for bugs in the Oracle database, several of which could be easily exploited in a widespread manner, according to Oracle.

The company has also released patches for the Oracle Application Server, Collaboration Suite, E-Business Suite, and Enterprise Manager software, as well as for its PeopleSoft PeopleTools software and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Security Server.

Several of these vulnerabilities are "significant" and users should patch their software as soon as possible, said security vendor Symantec in an alert sent to customers shortly after the updates were published. "No workarounds for these issues have been published by Oracle," Symantec said.

Of particular interest is a fix for a previously disclosed vulnerability in the PLSQL (Procedural Language/Structured Query Language) gateway software that is used to integrate Oracle's database with Web-based applications. Security researcher David Litchfield published a fix for this problem in January, but Oracle had warned users not to deploy his software, saying it would break a number of Oracle products.

The vulnerability affects the Oracle Application Server, the Oracle Collaboration Suite and the Oracle E-Business Suite, according to Oracle's documentation. The Oracle HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) server, which is bundled with the Oracle database, is also affected.

In total, the company has patched 36 vulnerabilities in this set of patches, although some users will not get the updates until May, depending on which operating system and product version they are using.

Despite the update, there are still a large number of unpatched bugs in Oracle products, according to Cesar Cerrudo, chief executive officer of security research firm Argeniss.

Earlier this month his company released a security research tool called the Argeniss Ultimate 0day Exploits Pack, which contained exploit code for six unpatched vulnerabilities in Oracle's database. Five of those bugs remain unpatched following the updates released on Tuesday, he said.

Oracle still needs to do a better job of patching known vulnerabilities, he said, because the slow rate at which it fixes problems is putting customers at risk. "We have more than 50 unpatched vulnerabilities on Oracle's database server," he said. "The oldest unfixed vulnerability we have reported to Oracle is from February 2005. That's a long time to patch a bug."

Oracle releases these Critical Patch Updates once every three months. The next such release is scheduled for July 18.