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Sun Java Plugin arbitrary package access vulnerability
Nov 23 2004 07:02AM
Jouko Pynnonen (jouko iki fi)
Sun Microsystem's Java Plugin connects the Java technology to web
browsers and allows the use of Java Applets. Java Plugin technology is
available for numerous platforms and supports major web browsers.
A vulnerability in Java Plugin allows an attacker to create an Applet
which can disable Java's security restrictions and break out of the
Java sandbox. The attack can be launched when a victim views a web page
created by the attacker. Further user interaction is not required as
Java Applets are normally loaded and started automatically.
Such Applet can then take any action which the user could: browse,
read, or modify files, upload more programs to the victim system and
run them, or send out data from the system. Java is a cross-platform
language so the same exploit could run on various OS'es and
There is a number of private Java packages in the Java VM, meant to be
used only by the VM internally. Java Applets can't normally access
these packages because of security concerns. Attempting to access
them normally results in an AccessControlException.
using so called reflection API. The following piece of example
alert('got Class object: '+c)
This isn't possible by a normal Java Applet, and shouldn't be for
or pass it to an Applet that could use it.
An attacker can't do much with the utility class in this example, but
could use other private classes to exploit the vulnerability. Some of
them allow e.g. direct access to memory or methods for modifying
private fields of Java objects. The latter allows an attacker
to simply turn off the Java security manager, after which there is no
sandbox restricting what the Applet can do.
The Java Plugin versions 1.4.2_04 and 1.4.2_05 were tested on Windows
and Linux. Web browsers tested were Microsoft Internet Explorer,
Mozilla Firefox and Opera. It should be noted that Opera uses a
exploit not to work on Opera. However the problem itself (access to
private packages) was demonstrated on Opera too, so it may be
vulnerable to a variation of the exploit.
Sun Microsystems was informed on April 29, 2004 and has fixed the
problem in J2SE 1.4.2_06, available at
The vulnerability was discovered and researched by Jouko Pynnonen,
Jouko Pynnönen Web: http://iki.fi/jouko/
jouko (at) iki (dot) fi [email concealed]
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