Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cloud

5/15/2015
04:10 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Polish Security Firm Discloses Unpatched Security Flaws in Google App Engine

Google was given enough time to respond researcher says.

Google’s Project Zero vulnerability research group has drawn some flak recently for its practice of publicly disclosing security flaws in software from other vendors after a 90-day notice period, regardless of whether patches are available or not.

Friday, the company may have gotten a small taste of its own medicine when Polish firm Security Explorations Friday released details on several unpatched vulnerabilities in Google’s cloud software after the Internet giant allegedly failed to respond in a timely manner to the issue.

The vulnerabilities in Google’s App Engine (GAE) software include three complete Java sandbox escapes that could be used to gather a lot of information on the Java Runtime Environment sandbox itself. “They also seem to be a potentially good starting point to proceed with attacks against the OS sandbox and RPC services visible to the sandboxed Java environment,” Adam Gowdiak, CEO of Security Explorations said in emailed comments to Dark Reading.

In addition to the flaws, Security Explorations also released proof of concept code showing how the vulnerabilities can be exploit to bypass the Java security sandbox in GAE.

Google’s App Engine is a hosted service for enterprises seeking to run and maintain applications in the cloud.

This is the second time in less than six months that Security Explorations has uncovered holes in the technology. In December, the company disclosed a total of 31 security issues in the software, including 22 that allowed an escape from the Java security sandbox.

Google patched those flaws by mid-March, Gowdiak said. Following that, between March and April, Security Explorations reported an additional 10 issues to Google, of which seven were publicly disclosed today, he added.

“The security issues published today need to be combined together in order to conduct a successful attack. In that context, it's difficult to point to a single one that's the most serious,” Gowdiak said. The Java security sandbox escape exploit was the most that Security Explorations could achieve given the constraints under which it conducted the vulnerability research on GAE, he said.

For Google, the disclosures by Security Explorations have become a sort of test of its own tolerance for bug disclosures for which no patches are immediately available. The disclosure also focuses attention once again on the issue of responsible bug disclosure practices, especially at a time when enterprises need all the protection they can from software vendors.

Many security researchers and vendors acknowledge that the safest way to publicly disclose bugs in software products is after the vendor has had a chance to fix it. But there is considerable debate on just how much notice is reasonable enough for a vendor to address the issue.

Google itself has maintained that a 90-day window is more than enough time for a fix. But some within the industry have been irritated by the company’s refusal—till recently at least—to budge from that deadline.

In January, Microsoft’s senior director of Trustworthy Computing Chris Betz, raked Google through the coals for publicly releasing information on a flaw in a Microsoft product, just two days before a scheduled Patch Tuesday fix for it.

Although sticking to a deadline is good policy, Google’s decision to go public with the flaw despite knowing about the fix, “feels less like principles and more like a “gotcha,” with customers the ones who may suffer as a result,” Betz had noted. Contrary to perception, publicly releasing information on a flaw without context or further protections, “unduly pressures an already complicated technical environment,” he had said.

Following the criticism, Google loosened its disclosure policy a bit and now gives vendors a grace period beyond 90 days in certain cases.

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

It’s unclear how the company’s views the latest disclosures by Security Explorations. Back in December, the security firm claimed Google initially suspended its GAE account following the disclosures. Later, the company announced that it had received a reward of  $50,000 from Google for finding the bugs.

This time around, Gowdiak says he gave Google three weeks to confirm or deny the reported flaws. “They were fully documented and accompanied by Proof of Concept codes,” he said.

Gowdiak said Security Explorations does not follow a strict rule for vulnerability disclosures. “If a vulnerability is confirmed by a vendor and we are provided with status updates regarding the patching process, we usually wait …until the patches are released. “

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Data Privacy Protections for the Most Vulnerable -- Children
Dimitri Sirota, Founder & CEO of BigID,  10/17/2019
Sodinokibi Ransomware: Where Attackers' Money Goes
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  10/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
2019 Online Malware and Threats
2019 Online Malware and Threats
As cyberattacks become more frequent and more sophisticated, enterprise security teams are under unprecedented pressure to respond. Is your organization ready?
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-18202
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-19
Information Disclosure is possible on WAGO Series PFC100 and PFC200 devices before FW12 due to improper access control. A remote attacker can check for the existence of paths and file names via crafted HTTP requests.
CVE-2019-18209
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-19
templates/pad.html in Etherpad-Lite 1.7.5 has XSS when the browser does not encode the path of the URL, as demonstrated by Internet Explorer.
CVE-2019-18198
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-18
In the Linux kernel before 5.3.4, a reference count usage error in the fib6_rule_suppress() function in the fib6 suppression feature of net/ipv6/fib6_rules.c, when handling the FIB_LOOKUP_NOREF flag, can be exploited by a local attacker to corrupt memory, aka CID-ca7a03c41753.
CVE-2019-18197
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-18
In xsltCopyText in transform.c in libxslt 1.1.33, a pointer variable isn't reset under certain circumstances. If the relevant memory area happened to be freed and reused in a certain way, a bounds check could fail and memory outside a buffer could be written to, or uninitialized data could be disclo...
CVE-2019-4409
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-18
HCL Traveler versions 9.x and earlier are susceptible to cross-site scripting attacks. On the Problem Report page of the Traveler servlet pages, there is a field to specify a file attachment to provide additional problem details. An invalid file name returns an error message that includes the entere...