August 29, 2012, 4:12 PM — Oracle knew since April about the existence of the two unpatched Java 7 vulnerabilities that are currently being exploited in malware attacks, according to Adam Gowdiak, the founder and CEO of Polish security firm Security Explorations.
Security Explorations reported 19 Java 7 security issues to Oracle on Apr. 2. Those issues included the two zero-day -- unpatched -- vulnerabilities that attackers are exploiting to infect computers with malware, Gowdiak said Wednesday via email.
The company continued to report Java 7 vulnerabilities to Oracle in the following months until the total number reached 29. "We demonstrated 16 full Java SE 7 sandbox compromises with the use of our bugs," Gowdiak said.
According to security researchers from security firm Immunity, the Java exploit published online earlier this week and integrated into the Blackhole attack toolkit makes use of two Java vulnerabilities not one, as it was previously believed.
"The first bug was used to get a reference to sun.awt.SunToolkit class that is restricted to applets while the second bug invokes the getField public static method on SunToolkit using reflection with a trusted immediate caller bypassing a security check," Immunity developer Esteban Guillardoy said Tuesday in a blog post.
While both of those vulnerabilities, one in the ClassFinder class and one in the MethodFinder class, were found and reported by Security Explorations in April, the proof-of-concept exploits supplied by the company to Oracle combined them with other bugs, not together, Gowdiak said.
"The way in which SunToolkit class and its getField method is used to achieve a complete JVM [Java Virtual Machine] sandbox bypass is different from what we have demonstrated to Oracle," Gowdiak said.
Because of this, the researcher believes that the new exploit is likely the result of someone else independently discovering the same vulnerabilities, rather than a leak of information somewhere in the vulnerability report handling process.
However, nothing can be excluded with 100 percent certainty, Gowdiak said. "We don't know with whom and in what form or detail Oracle is sharing vulnerability information."