Security Experts:

Cybercriminals Waste Little Time in Targeting Latest Java Flaws

Just five days after Oracle released the patches, criminals have added exploits for Java’s recent flaws to their kits.

Security firm F-Secure spotted the Java exploit in the wild, and noted that it began circulating online April 21.

Earlier this month, Oracle patched 42 vulnerabilities, 39 of them remotely exploitable. One of those vulnerabilities could enable an attacker to disable the Java security manager and run code outside of Java’s sandbox. After the patches were released, the person who discovered this flaw, Jeroen Frijters, published his findings. Those findings were then turned into a Metasploit module.

“Interestingly, the Metasploit module was published on the 20th, and as mentioned earlier, the exploit was seen in the wild the day after,” F-Secure’s research note explains. The exploit was discovered as part of the Crime Boss exploit kit.

In related news, the same week that the latest Java fixes were published, a Reflection API flaw was disclosed on the Full Disclosure mailing list. The vulnerability, which affects all versions of Java SE7, was found by Adam Gowdiak and the team at Security Explorations.

“What's interesting is that the new issue is present not only in JRE Plugin / JDK software, but also the recently announced Server JRE as well,” Gowdiak wrote

Last month, Websense said that 94 percent of endpoints running Java are unpatched and vulnerable to at least one exploit. Many of those exploits are standard issue in all of the crime kits used by criminals these days. According to Websense, 75 percent of the Java versions detected are more than six months old; two-thirds were more than a year old, and half were two years old.

“Patch management can be a complicated process for an organization, especially those with remote workers,” said Charles Renert, vice president of Websense Security Labs.

“There are a number of factors at play: a mobile workforce is hard to patch; Java has a cross-platform footprint; and Java updates independently from the vulnerable apps, such as browsers, that use it...” 

Related Insight: The Unique Challenges of Controlling Java Exploits

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.