Feeds

Oracle knew about critical Java flaws since April

Could have issued patches, but didn't

Reducing security risks from open source software

The critical Java vulnerabilities that have security experts cautioning users to disable Java in their browsers are not new discoveries, a security firm claims. On the contrary, Oracle has known about them for months, and it has probably had a patch ready since before an exploit was discovered in the wild.

Security Explorations, a startup based in Poland, says it disclosed details of a total of 31 Java security issues to Oracle in April of this year, including the ones currently under attack. Of that list, only two issues were fixed in the last Java Critical Patch Update (CPU), which was issued on June 12.

"We ... expected that the most serious of them would be fixed by June 2012 Java CPU," Security Explorations CEO and founder Adam Gowdiak told The Reg, "But it didn't happen and Oracle left many issues unpatched with plans to address them in the next Java CPUs."

Ordinarily, Oracle only issues CPUs three times a year, which means the next one isn't due to arrive until October 16.

Oracle continued to provide Security Explorations with updates on its progress toward fixing the flaws throughout the following months, Gowdiak says, and by August 23 it reported that it had developed fixes for all but six of the issues.

Gowdiak did not disclose details of which specific vulnerabilities Oracle confirmed it had fixed and when, but if we assume that the vulnerabilities currently being exploited aren't among the six that remain open, then Oracle very likely could have made patches available to customers months ago. Instead, it stuck to its roadmap.

As a result, the vulnerabilities remain unpatched, and on Sunday security firm FireEye discovered a working exploit for one of the flaws on a website based in Asia.

Since then, the exploit has been incorporated into some of the more popular hacking and penetration testing tools, meaning even the most inept script kiddies can potentially use it to execute arbitrary code or install malware on affected systems.

Much like Microsoft's "Patch Tuesday," Java's slow-but-steady patch schedule is designed to give enterprise customers time to properly test the fixes before deploying them.

But although such long lead times might be necessary for IT departments in charge of critical Java applications and middleware, individual users running Java in their browsers have different needs. While backend systems are usually shielded from exploits by firewalls and security systems, a user whose browser is directed to a malicious website is essentially wide open to attack.

"Oracle's patching cycle should take into account that from time to time there is a need to release and out-of-band patch for ongoing 0-day attacks threatening the security of the users of the company's Java software," Gowdiak says.

Oracle has made no public statement regarding the issue and it did not respond when contacted for comment by The Reg. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.