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Security researchers attack "inconsistent" Oracle over Java


By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 18 Mar 2013 at 11:10

A security research company has attacked Oracle over the software maker's response to yet another security concern.

Security Explorations claims to have discovered a security flaw in the Java SE platform, but says Oracle has dismissed its concerns, saying the weakness is "allowed behaviour" for code.

The gripe concerns a potential weakness tagged Issue 54, which the security researchers claim can be used as part of a package to bypass sandboxing in Java.

"Described Issue 54 is not sufficient to implement a functional and successful attack code in the environment of Java SE 7," Security Explorations said in its announcement. "Security Explorations discovered another issue (number 55) affecting Oracle’s Java SE 7 that allows to do this.

A general rule in security is that same circumstances and constraints should lead to consistent security access related decisions

"Issues 54 and 55, when combined together can be used to successfully achieve a complete Java security sandbox bypass in a target system. Proof of concept code illustrating the impact of both vulnerabilities has been successfully tested in the environment of Java SE 7 Update 15 and Java SE 7 Update 17."

Oracle said allowing code to access an element of the software called Method Handle was normal procedure, but according to the researchers other examples of similar attacks were blocked, leading to a lack of consistency in policy.

"A general rule in security is that same circumstances and constraints should lead to consistent security access-related decisions," the researchers argue. "In case of Issue 54, resolving protected members of superclasses should be either always allowed or denied for all code paths available to untrusted code."

Oracle has yet to respond to a request for comment.

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