New Java vulnerability identified in archive processing: circumvents antivirus

Some antivirus vendors recommend against scanning inside archives to avoid a performance impact. This is because scanning the archive can mean the computer appears unresponsive or slow, but following this advice creates an opportunity for malware authors.

In the 4th quarter of 2012, Java exploits made their way to the top of the detection list in Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report, suggesting that the malware authors may already be taking advantage of this.

When executing Java classes from within a Java archive, the class is extracted from the archive and decompressed into memory. By extracting the code and decompressing it in memory, there is no opportunity for “On Access” scanning to detect the malware using signatures in the same way as there is with many other executable file formats.

Other executable file formats are typically not decompressed into memory and executed, but rather, they are decompressed into a temporary file. This temporary file creates an opportunity for “On Access” scanning to detect the malicious code inside the archive while the file is being written to, or read from, the disk.

To exploit this vulnerability, malware authors can embed malicious code inside a Java archive where it will have an increased chance of evading detection by antivirus software.

The challenge for security professionals is that there’s often limited ability to “tune” their antivirus software to counter it. In many cases “On Access” scanning shares the same settings as “Scheduled” scanning.

Customers may well tolerant a performance impact for a scheduled scan at 3am, but they are far less likely to approve of even a 60 second wait for their Java application to start. At the moment, there seems to be very limited awareness of this potentially unwanted side effect.

Oracle and antivirus vendors will need to improve their solutions and options to counter this. While we wait, enterprises, individuals and security professionals are increasingly reliant on other technologies like host intrusion prevention or web and email gateway solutions, for protection.

Brad Ellis is the Managing Director at Ellis Network Associates.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Java vulnerabilitymalwareantivirus

More about MicrosoftOracle

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Brad Ellis

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