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FireEye researchers uncover Java zero-day attack

02 Mar 2013
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Security researchers have uncovered yet another unpatched Java vulnerability being targeted in the wild.

Researchers with FireEye said that their cloud security platform had spotted online exploits which target a zero-day flaw in the Oracle platform. FireEye advised users to update the Java browser plug-in whenever possible.

According to FireEye, the exploit attempts to target a remote code execution flaw and, when successful, download and execute a malware package. The company said that it has notified Oracle of the condition and expects an update.

While the attack has been shown to work on the latest patched versions of Java, researchers noted that the unstable nature of the attack itself limits its effectiveness

"The exploit is not very reliable, as it tries to overwrite a big chunk of memory," FireEye said.

"As a result, in most cases, upon exploitation, we can still see the payload downloading, but it fails to execute and yields a [Java virtual machine] crash."

The report is the latest in a long line of Java zero-days to emerge in recent months. The Oracle platform has come under fire multiple times, as attackers have sought to exploit remote code execution flaws for drive-by malware downloads.

Fallout from the exploits has left many security experts recommending that users and administrators disable the Java platform on their systems. Apple at one point made a Java shutdown mandatory for OS X users.

Sophos researchers have suggested that when a Java shutdown is not possible, users keep an alternative browser designated exclusively for use with trusted Java browser applications.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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