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Critical Remote Code Execution Vulnerabilities Patched in IBM WebSphere

Two critical vulnerabilities patched recently by IBM in its WebSphere Application Server product can be exploited by a remote, unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary code with elevated privileges.

A security researcher who uses the online moniker tint0 discovered in April that WebSphere Application Server, IBM’s Java EE-based runtime environment, is affected by three potentially serious deserialization issues. Two of the flaws have been rated critical and they can be exploited for remote code execution, while the third has been classified as high severity and it can lead to information disclosure.

Tint0 reported the issues to IBM through Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), which last week published advisories for each of the vulnerabilities. The bugs were reported to IBM in mid-April.

The security holes that allow remote code execution are tracked as CVE-2020-4450 and CVE-2020-4448, and they are caused by “the lack of proper validation of user-supplied data, which can result in deserialization of untrusted data.”

One of the vulnerabilities is related to the BroadcastMessageManager class and it allows arbitrary code execution with SYSTEM privileges, while the other is related to the handling of the IIOP protocol and it can allow code execution with root privileges.

According to IBM, exploitation involves sending a specially crafted sequence of serialized objects. WebSphere Application Server 8.5 and 9.0 are affected, and CVE-2020-4448 also impacts WebSphere Virtual Enterprise Edition.

The high-severity flaw identified by tint0 is also related to IIOP deserialization and it can lead to information disclosure. A remote attacker can exploit the vulnerability without authentication using a specially crafted sequence of serialized objects.

The vendor has released patches for each of the vulnerabilities and there is no evidence of exploitation for malicious purposes.

Related: IBM Tells Researcher It Will Not Patch Serious Data Risk Manager Flaws

Related: Flaws in IBM QRadar Allow Remote Command Execution

Related: IBM Releases Spectre, Meltdown Patches for Power Systems

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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.