Oracle patches Java flaw exploited in SSL BEAST attack

Mozilla won't ban the Java plugin from Firefox after all

Oracle has released a new Java security update to address multiple vulnerabilities, including one exploited during a recently disclosed attack that can allow eavesdropping on encrypted communications.

Last month at the Ekoparty security conference in Buenos Aires, security researchers Juliano Rizzo and Thai Duong demonstrated a practical method of intercepting SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Security Layer) traffic.

Their man-in-the-middle attack, dubbed the Browser Exploit Against SSL/TLS (BEAST), leverages a long-known theoretical issue which affects most of the SSL and TLS implementations currently used on the Internet.

To pull off the attack, Duong and Rizzo bypassed the browser's same-origin policy, a core security mechanism that prevents different opened websites from interfering with one another, by exploiting a vulnerability in the Java plug-in.

Identified as CVE-2011-3389, that vulnerability nearly led to Firefox developers banning Java from the browser following BEAST's disclosure. However, an agreement regarding that possible course of action could not be reached because such a decision would have broken many applications, especially in corporate environments where Java is used extensively.

Mozilla officially announced on Tuesday that blocking Java is off the table for now, especially since Oracle released a fix for the vulnerability. "We will not be blocking vulnerable versions of Java at this time, though we will continue to monitor for incidents of this vulnerability being exploited in the wild," the browser maker said.

Nevertheless, it's worth pointing out that deploying the patch does not entirely mitigate BEAST, because Java is just one of several technologies that can theoretically be exploited to achieve the same result.

A complete fix would involve migrating the entire Internet to TLS 1.1, a version of the protocol that's not vulnerable to this attack and has been available since 2006. However, that's obviously much easier said than done and won't happen overnight, if it ever does.

Despite its importance for the only known BEAST implementation so far, this Java vulnerability does not have a high risk rating. According to the corresponding Oracle advisory, CVE-2011-3389 has a base score of 4.3 of a maximum 10 on the CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System) scale.

Other vulnerabilities addressed by the new Java update are considered much more critical, such as the five maximum-rated arbitrary code execution flaws in various components, along with several undisclosed ones. A separate SSL/TLS issue affecting the Java application sandbox and a DNS cache poisoning bug have also been fixed.

So far there have been no reports of BEAST attacks, except for the official demonstration at Ekoparty, but that might change in the future, so users are strongly advised to install the update as soon as possible. In fact, because it is one of the most frequently attacked browser plug-ins, updating Java should be considered a priority in general.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityOracle

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?