September 5, 2013

New Java and Flash Research Shows a Dangerous Update Gap

Today we're continuing our Java security research series by analyzing other plug-ins, browser extensions and rich internet applications that are commonly exploited.

Our previous research indicated that the current state of Java affairs isn't pretty. At that time, ninety-three percent of enterprises were vulnerable to known Java exploits. Nearly 50 percent of enterprise traffic used a Java version that was more than two years out of date. Through Websense ThreatSeeker Intelligence Cloud analysis we now discover:

  • Only 19 percent of enterprise Windows-based computers ran the latest version of Java (7u25) between August 1-29, 2013.
  • More than 40 percent of enterprise Java requests are from browsers still using outdated Java 6. As a result, more than 80 percent of Java requests are susceptible to two popular new Java exploits: CVE-2013-2473 and CVE-2013-2463.
  • 83.86 percent of enterprise browsers have Java enabled.
  • Nearly 40 percent of users are not running the most up-to-date versions of Flash.
  • In fact, nearly 25 percent of Flash installations are more than six months old, close to 20 percent are outdated by a year and nearly 11 percent are two years old.

Our in-depth analysis ran for one month, across multiple verticals and industries. We surveyed millions of real-world web requests for Java usage through our global Websense ThreatSeeker Intelligence Cloud. 

New Java Exploits and the Neutrino Exploit Kit

New Java exploits CVE-2013-2473 and CVE-2013-2463 are already making a big impact by targeting computers running outdated versions of Java. It's clear the cybercriminals know there is a Java update problem for many organizations.

For example, Websense ThreatSeeker Intelligence Cloud noticed an uptick in new hosts running the Neutrino exploit kit in the first and second weeks of August 2013. This could be attributed to Neutrino's addition of Java-based code execution exploits including CVE-2013-2463, which is based on AWT/2D vulnerabilities and affects all Java 6 users (tip of the hat to F-Secure). Typically associated with ransomware payloads, Neutrino is best known for its easy-to-use control panel and features that evade AV and IPS systems.

Forty percent of Java 6 users are vulnerable to these new exploits and there are no software patches in sight. Effective exploit kit delivery mechanisms, such as Neutrino, and unpatched vulnerabilities targeting Java 6 create a significant challenge for organizations that have not updated to Java 7.

On the positive side, our updated numbers show that enterprise IT is pushing out more Java updates. Earlier this year, 70 percent of Java requests came from Java 6 users. That figure has decreased to 40 percent.

Check out this previous blog post on how Java plays a part within the Seven Stages of Advanced Attacks and our advice on Java remediation steps at this post.

Don't Forget About Flash

Remember, just a few years ago, Flash was a primary attack vector. As our research above indicates, nearly 40 percent of users are not running the most up-to-date versions of Flash. In the last three months, five security patches have been released for Flash-and that number leaps to 26 over the course of the last year.

This is exactly why real-time security models are absolutely essential. Even the best patch management and traditional security tools simply cannot keep up with the ongoing barrage of zero-day attacks and exploit kits being created.

We'll keep you posted as we conduct ongoing and future research on these critical systems and programs. Stay tuned on the latest research and information on how to mitigate these threats in future posts.

About Forcepoint

Forcepoint is the leading user and data protection cybersecurity company, entrusted to safeguard organizations while driving digital transformation and growth. Our solutions adapt in real-time to how people interact with data, providing secure access while enabling employees to create value.