Java zero-day prompts calls again to disable

A zero-day Java vulnerability that affects all versions of the browser plug-in has been incorporated in popular exploit kits used by cybercriminals, security experts say.

The exploits for the vulnerability have been implemented within the Blackhole, Cool and Nuclear Pack kits. The flaw affects all versions of the Java plug-in, including the latest Java 7 Update 10.

HD Moore, chief security officer for Rapid7, said the exploits have already been found on compromised websites, which are capable of infecting visitors' PCs with malware. The exploits affect computers running Java in browsers on Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.

"In terms of the impact, this is about as bad as it gets," Moore said.

A French researcher who uses the handle Kafeine discovered the vulnerability Thursday. "This could be mayhem," the researcher said of the flaw.

AlienVault was able to reproduce an exploit of the flaw in a fully patched new installation of Java. "The Java file is highly obfuscated, but based on the quick analysis we did, the exploit is probably bypassing certain security checks, tricking the permission of certain Java classes," researcher Jaime Blasco said in the AlienVault Labs blog.

A similar bypass mechanism was used in exploits of an earlier Java vulnerability, listed as CVE-2012-4681 in the National Vulnerability Database.

[See also: Vulnerability management - The basics]

"Right now, the only way to protect your machine against this exploit is disabling the Java browser plugin," Blasco said. "Let's see how long does it take for Oracle to release a patch."

Security experts often criticize Oracle for moving too slowly in releasing Java patches and for not sharing enough information about vulnerabilities. Oracle did not respond to a request for comment.

The Java plug-in has become a favorite of criminals looking to hijack PCs for botnets and to steal personal data, credit card numbers and online banking credentials. A large number of computers are infected through drive-by-downloads on compromised websites, which are typically infected through Web exploit tool kits.

Java plug-ins are particularly vulnerable because users often do not deploy security updates in a timely fashion. Rapid7 estimates that 65% of the installations today are unpatched.

Experts recommend disabling Java in browsers, unless it is needed to access specific applications. In the latter cases, a separate browser should be dedicated for that single purpose.

Read more about application security in CSOonline's Application Security section.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags applicationsAlienVaultzero-daysecurityData Protection | Application SecurityRapid7Access control and authenticationjavasoftwaredata protection

More about LinuxOracleRapid7

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Antone Gonsalves

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts