Emergency Java update fixes two-year-old flaw after researchers bypass old patch

The new patch comes after a security firm demonstrated that a 2013 fix for a critical vulnerability was inefficient

Oracle has released an emergency Java security update to fix a critical vulnerability that could allow attackers to compromise computers when they visit specially crafted websites.

The company has assigned CVE-2016-0636 as the identifier for the vulnerability, which suggests that it is a new flaw discovered this year, but that's not really the case.

Polish security firm Security Explorations confirmed via email that the new Java update actually fixes a broken patch for a vulnerability that was originally reported to Oracle by the company in 2013.

Earlier this month Security Explorations announced that a patch released by Oracle in October 2013 for a critical vulnerability tracked as CVE-2013-5838 was ineffective and could be trivially bypassed by changing only four characters in the original exploit. This meant that the vulnerability was still exploitable in the latest versions of Java.

The Security Explorations researchers published a detailed technical report in which they described the bypass without contacting Oracle in advance. They said that the company no longer tolerates broken vendor fixes and will disclose them publicly.

It seems that Oracle decided to treat Security Explorations' bypass technique as an entirely new vulnerability. In its security alert published Wednesday the company made no reference to the old CVE-2013-5838 flaw or the Polish security firm's discovery.

However, it noted that customers should install the new Java updates as soon as possible because of the flaw's severity and "the public disclosure of technical details."

Java SE 8 users are advised to install the newly released Java SE 8 Update 77 (8u77). Security updates for Java 6 and 7 are only available for customers with long-term support contracts, because those versions are no longer publicly supported.

"A quick test done under Java SE 8 Update 77 reveals that the patch does block our Proof of Concept code," said Adam Gowdiak, the founder and CEO of Secure Explorations, via email. "The fix was primarily applied to the isTypeVisible method of sun.invoke.util.VerifyAccess class that was instrumental to set up the sandbox escape (class spoofing attack)."

Gowdiak said that he doesn't expect this fix to be broken too, especially since Oracle now knows about Secure Explorations' new policy of publicly disclosing broken patches without prior warning.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

More about Oracle

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Lucian Constantin

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

Market Place