Java vulnerable to remote compromise

ZDNet Asia reports that Google Security team has discovered as “Dangerous Java Flaw that threaten’s Virtually Everything“. The interesting part of this news is that, apart from a few scary statements, it doesn’t inform you anything else.

The Sun advisory page on this flaw, however, informs you about two flaws which are nothing but Buffer Overflows. Do not mistake me that I am undermining the impact of Buffer Overflow Attacks in any way. It’s just the ZD Net article’s title which’s bugging me. It makes the flaw look like an out of world ET attack scenario.

  1. A buffer overflow vulnerability in the image parsing code in the Java Runtime Environment may allow an untrusted applet or application to elevate its privileges. For example, an applet may grant itself permissions to read and write local files or execute local applications that are accessible to the user running the untrusted applet.
  2. A second vulnerability may allow an untrusted applet or application to cause the Java Virtual Machine to hang.

Now firstly, Buffer Overflows are no new form of attacks. They have been here since the existence of man (I admit that’s a little much :D), and they are here to stay. Thus, articles like this are more like FUD, IMHO.
Secondly, applet support is very limited in mobile devices. Not to mention that J2ME supports only PNG format. Thus, not “virtually everything” is everything.
Finally, image parsing library in Sun’s Java implementation is through a native library. It’s time that Sun writes a Java equivalent for it to avoid other similar issues. Further, since Java is now GPL, I also hope to see the code coming from some random, pimply, introvert teenage kid. 🙂

The problems can be resolved by updating the packages. Detailed info provided on the Sun’s advisory.