Public Vulnerability Reports

Sun Java Runtime Environment Color Management Buffer Overflow Vulnerability



The Sun Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is Sun Microsystems Inc.'s implementation of the Java run-time. For more information, see the vendor's site found at the following link:


Remote exploitation of a buffer overflow vulnerability in Sun's Java Runtime Environment could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the current user.

Sun Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is a platform that supports the execution of programs that are developed using the Java programming language. It is available for multiple platforms, including Windows, Linux and MacOS. The JRE platform also supports Java Applets which can be loaded from web pages.

During the parsing of an invalid Image Color Profile, an overly long tag can lead to a stack buffer overflow condition within the Java Runtime Environment. This condition may allow a remote attacker to subvert execution control and execute arbitrary code.


Exploitation of this vulnerability results in the execution of arbitrary code with the privileges of the user viewing the web page. To exploit this vulnerability, a targeted user must visit a website and load a malicious Java Applet created by an attacker. An attacker typically accomplishes this via social engineering or injecting content into a compromised, trusted site.

Under the Windows Operating System, JRE binaries are not compiled with /GS stack buffer overflow protection and JRE heap memory pages are mapped with Read, Write, and Execute permissions. These conditions accommodate for a reliable exploit that works across multiple web browsers and multiple versions of Windows.


iDefense has confirmed the existence of this vulnerability in version 1.6.0u12 of Java Runtime Environment. This is the latest version of JRE at the time of writing; future versions may also be affected.

iDefense tested the exploitation of this vulnerability on Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista SP1. iDefense believes that all platforms supported by Java Runtime Environment are affected by this vulnerability, including Linux and MacOS.


It is possible to disable the Java plugin in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Google Chrome.


Sun Microsystems Inc. has released a patch which addresses this issue. For more information, consult their advisory at the following URL:


The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project has assigned the name CVE-2009-3868 to this issue. This is a candidate for inclusion in the CVE list (, which standardizes names for security problems.


05/04/2009 - Initial Contact
05/06/2009 - PoC Requested
05/06/2009 - PoC sent
11/03/2009 - Coordinated public disclosure


The discoverer of this vulnerability wishes to remain anonymous.

Get paid for vulnerability research

Free tools, research and upcoming events


Copyright © 2010 Verisign, Inc.

Permission is granted for the redistribution of this alert electronically. It may not be edited in any way without the express written consent of iDefense. If you wish to reprint the whole or any part of this alert in any other medium other than electronically, please e-mail customer service for permission.

Disclaimer: The information in the advisory is believed to be accurate at the time of publishing based on currently available information. Use of the information constitutes acceptance for use in an AS IS condition. There are no warranties with regard to this information. Neither the author nor the publisher accepts any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential loss or damage arising from use of, or reliance on, this information.