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Homeland Security STILL Recommends Disabling Java Even After Patching

Related: Java
Homeland Security STILL Recommends Disabling Java Even After Patching

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security recommending disabling Java completely if you didn't need it, citing a new bug in version 7, update 10 of the once Sun, now Oracle programming language. Oracle quickly responded with a patch, but that has NOT satisfied Homeland Security who STILL recommends disabling Java if you don't NEED to use it.

Short answer -- disable Java.

Here's what they have to say:

Java 7 Update 10 and earlier versions of Java 7 contain a vulnerability that can allow a remote, unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable system.

Description

The Oracle Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 1.7 allows users to run Java applications in a browser or as standalone programs. Oracle has made the JRE available for multiple operating systems. OpenJDK is an open-source implementation of the Java platform, and the IcedTea project aims to make it easier to deploy OpenJDK, including a web browser plugin.

The Java JRE plug-in provides its own Security Manager. Typically, a web applet runs with a security manager provided by the browser or Java Web Start plugin. Oracle's document states, "If there is a security manager already installed, this method first calls the security manager's checkPermission method with aRuntimePermission("setSecurityManager") permission to ensure it's safe to replace the existing security manager. This may result in throwing a SecurityException".

By leveraging the a vulnerability in the Java Management Extensions (JMX) MBean components, unprivileged Java code can access restricted classes. By using that vulnerability in conjunction with a second vulnerability involving recursive use of the Reflection API via the invokeWithArguments method of the MethodHandle class, an untrusted Java applet can escalate its privileges by calling the the setSecurityManager() function to allow full privileges, without requiring code signing. Oracle Java 7 update 10 and earlier Java 7 versions are affected. OpenJDK 7, and subsequently IcedTea, are also affected. The invokeWithArguments method was introduced with Java 7, so therefore Java 6 is not affected.

This vulnerability is being attacked in the wild, and is reported to be incorporated into exploit kits. Exploit code for this vulnerability is also publicly available. We have confirmed that Windows, OS X, and Linux platforms are affected. Other platforms that use Oracle Java 7 may also be affected.

Impact

By convincing a user to visit a specially crafted HTML document, a remote attacker may be able to execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable system. Note that applications that use the Internet Explorer web content rendering components, such as Microsoft Office or Windows Desktop Search, may also be used as an attack vector for this vulnerability.

Solution

Update to Java 7u11

Oracle Security Alert CVE-2013-0422 states that Java 7 Update 11 addresses this (CVE-2013-0422) and an equally severe vulnerability (CVE-2012-3174). Immunity has indicated that only the reflection vulnerability has been fixed. Java 7u11 sets the default Java security settings to "High" so that users will be prompted before running unsigned or self-signed Java applets.

Unless it is absolutely necessary to run Java in web browsers, disable it as described below, even after updating to 7u11. This will help mitigate other Java vulnerabilities that may be Discovered in the future.

Disable Java in web browsers

Starting with Java 7 Update 10, it is possible to disable Java content in web browsers through the Java control panel applet. Please see the Java documentation for more details.
Note: Due to what appears to potentially be a bug in the Java installer, the Java Control Panel applet may be missing on some Windows systems. In such cases, the Java Control Panel applet may be launched by finding and executingjavacpl.exe manually. This file is likely to be found in C:Program FilesJavajre7in or C:Program Files (x86)Javajre7in.
Also note that we have encountered situations where Java will crash if it has been disabled in the web browser as described above and then subsequently re-enabled. Reinstalling Java appears to correct this situation.
System administrators wishing to deploy Java 7 Update 10 or later with the "Enable Java content in the browser" feature disabled can invoke the Java installer with the WEB_JAVA=0 command-line option. More details are available in the Java documentation.

Restrict access to Java applets

Network administrators unable to disable Java in web browsers may be able to help mitigate this and other Java vulnerabilities by restricting access to Java applets. This may be accomplished by using proxy server rules, for example. Blocking or whitelisting web requests to .jar and .class files can help to prevent Java from being used by untrusted sources. Filtering requests that contain a Java User-Agent header may also be effective. For example, this technique can be used in environments where Java is required on the local intranet. The proxy can be configured to allow Java requests locally, but block them when the destination is a site on the internet.

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