Dispatches from the world of IT


Article from ADMIN 15/2013

Oracle Takes Action on Java Security

Java has spent considerable time in the headlines recently because of a string of significant security issues, many of them affecting web servers and other Internet-based web applications. Oracle, which has owned and maintained Java since purchasing Sun Microsystems in 2009, publicly addressed those issues in a blog post announcing several policy changes regarding future Java development and updates. In a post at the Oracle Security Assurance blog, lead Java developer Nandini Ramani outlined the changes.

The first change described in the post is an effort to speed up security fixes and updates. Recent patch updates have included a record number of fixes, and Oracle pledges to continue operating at this accelerated rate. In a move that might be controversial with Java's user and developer base, the team is integrating the Java security update schedule with the Oracle Critical Patch Update system used for other Oracle products. In other words, Java security updates will no longer be handled as a separate process but will fall under the overall Oracle security update system. This move will undoubtedly reduce Java's independence, but it might lead to the inclusion of more systematic security testing.

The company is also planning to work on "addressing the limitations of the existing Java in browser trust/privileges model." Changes will give the end user and system administrator more control over the security environment. Additional changes include modifications to signed applet policies and default plugin security.


Nasty New Apache Attack Discovered

A sophisticated Apache attack has appeared in the wild, according to reports, and has already infected hundreds of machines. The attack, known as Linux/Cdorked.A, redirects users to malicious sites, including sites that expose the user to the infamous Black Hole exploit pack. The attack does not leave any traces on the disk but, instead, saves its state and configuration in shared memory, making it very difficult to identify. The target for the attack appears to be Apache servers with the cPanel hosting control tool installed. Analysis by security experts at Sucuri and ESET reveal that the attack disguises suspicious strings in the backdoor with an XOR operation. The backdoor is opened through a special HTTP GET request that has been modified so that it does not appear in the Apache logs.

As of now, the recommended method for uncovering evidence of the attack is a search of shared memory. ESET's We Live Security blog describes the attack and provides a tool called dump_cdorked_config that checks the shared memory segment in which the backdoor stores its data. (See http://www.welivesecurity.com/2013/04/26/linuxcdorked-new-apache-backdoor-in-the-wild-serves-blackhole/)

New C-TIP Service Helps Hunt Botnets

Microsoft launched a new service for monitoring and tracking botnet behavior in near-real time. The new Cyber Threat Intelligence Program (C-TIP) is an Azure-based cloud service intended to provide data on infected PCs. The data is updated every 30 seconds. C-TIP is part of the Microsoft Active Response for Security (MARS) program. Security specialists will use the C-TIP service to look for active botnets. The MARS project has already played a role in discovering several high-profile botnets, and the new C-TIP service adds a powerful tool to the arsenal. Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) will access C-TIP to download botnet data to their own private clouds for fast and efficient analysis when an attack is taking place.

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