Security Experts:

22 Vulnerabilities Found in Oracle Database Java VM Implementation

Security researchers have uncovered a total of 22 vulnerabilities affecting the custom Java Virtual Machine (JVM) implementation used in Oracle Database.

The issues affecting Oracle JVM (Aurora VM) were reported to Oracle last week by Poland-based security research company Security Explorations, which has been working on this project for the past four months.

Adam Gowdiak, the company's CEO and founder, told SecurityWeek that Oracle indirectly confirmed on Tuesday the existence of six of the flaws, which have been fixed in the main codeline and are scheduled for a future Critical Patch Update (CPU). The rest of the flaws have been assigned a status of "under investigation / being fixed in main codeline."

Update: As of Friday, June 27, Security Explorations told SecurityWeek that Oracle has confirmed 20 of the 22 reported vulnerabilities. 

The vulnerabilities can be leveraged by an attacker for privilege escalation and to execute arbitrary Java code on an affected Oracle Database server.

"A malicious user with a bare minimum privilege required to connect and login to Oracle Database (with 'CREATE SESSION' privilege only) can successfully compromise the security of the software that according to Oracle's CEO 'hasn't been broken into for a couple of decades by anybody' and that is 'so secure, there are people that complain'," Gowdiak explained.

"By escaping the Java VM security sandbox of Oracle Database, one can easily gain database admin privileges in it. Java based exploits make such a privilege elevation in particular simple," he added. "Java security vulnerabilities can have a devastating effect not only for desktop users (Java Plugin in the browser), but also for cloud and database environments."

The vulnerabilities are caused by flaws in the Java Reflection API, which has been responsible for a lot of Java SE security issues in 2012 and 2013, the expert told SecurityWeek.

"It's been almost 2 years since Java Reflection API issues were brought to the public attention. Regardless of that, simple instances of these issues are still present in Oracle products other than Java SE," Gowdiak said.

 Security Explorations has successfully reproduced the exploits on Oracle Database 11g Release 2 (11.2.0.1.0) for Microsoft Windows x64, Oracle Database 11g Release 2 (11.2.0.4.5) Patch Bundle 18590877 for  Microsoft Windows x64, Oracle Database 12c Release 1 (12.1.0.1.0) for Microsoft Windows x64 and Oracle Database 12c Release 1 (12.1.0.1.9) Bundle Patch 18724015 for Microsoft Windows x64.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.