Looking for Detecting and Mitigating Spring4Shell and Java Spring Vulnerabilities? Your Search Ends Here!

Overview

On March 29, 2022, two new CVEs were discovered in the Spring Core java library:

  • CVE-2022-22963 : In Spring Cloud Function versions 3.1.6, 3.2.2 and older unsupported versions, when using routing functionality, it is possible for a user to provide a specially crafted SpEL as a routing-expression that may result in remote code execution and access to local resources.
  • CVE-2022-22965 : A Spring MVC or Spring WebFlux application running on JDK 9+ may be vulnerable to remote code execution (RCE) via data binding.
    Spring4shell

If you are like me, you will probably ask this question. Wait! Am I Impacted?

The current public exploits have the following requirements: Running on JDK9 or higher while using tomcat as a WAR deployment and using the affected spring-webmvc or spring-webflux versions.

Here is an example of the creation of a Spring project. By default, it will use Java 11 which is vulnerable, but deployments using  JAR packaging and an old Java 8 version would be safe from spring4shell:

 

Before we dive deep, let's understand what are Spring Cloud and Spring MVC?

The Spring Framework is an open-source application framework for Java. The Spring Project defines both Spring Cloud and Spring MVC below:

Spring Cloud

“Spring Cloud provides tools for developers to quickly build some of the common patterns in distributed systems (e.g., configuration management, service discovery, circuit breakers, intelligent routing, micro-proxy, control bus, one-time tokens, global locks, leadership election, distributed sessions, cluster state). “

https://spring.io/projects/spring-cloud

Spring MVC

“The Spring Web model-view-controller (MVC) framework is designed around a DispatcherServlet that dispatches requests to handlers, with configurable handler mappings, view resolution, locale, and theme resolution as well as support for uploading files.”

https://docs.spring.io/spring-framework/docs/3.2.x/spring-framework-reference/html/mvc.html

 

What is the Spring4Shell Vulnerability?

It was named Spring4Shell because Spring Core is a popular library, similar to Log4j which spawned the infamous log4shell vulnerability. The vulnerability allows a remote unauthenticated attacker to access exposed Java class objects which in turn can lead to Remote Code Execution (RCE).

 

Why is Spring4Shell a critical vulnerability?

The vulnerability has high impacts on confidentiality, integrity, and availability, as well as the technical details that are publicly available making it easy to exploit, together with the fact that no authentication is required making the vulnerability score as high as 9.8 on CVSSv3 by NVD (National Vulnerability Database). However, this score is not yet available on NVD website.

 

What versions of VMware Products have been impacted by Spring4Shell?

  • Spring

    • Spring Cloud Function

      • 3.1.6

      • 3.2.2

      • Older, unsupported versions are also affected

    • Spring Framework

      • 5.3.0 to 5.3.17

      • 5.2.0 to 5.2.19

      • Older, unsupported versions are also affected

  • Tanzu

 

Alright! Now let's take a look a how you can mitigate Spring4Shell!

Spring Cloud Function

  • Users of the affected versions can mitigate and protect their organization against the Spring4Shell vulnerability by upgrading to 3.1.7, 3.2.3. No other steps are necessary.

Spring Framework

  • The preferred response is to update to Spring Framework 5.3.18 and 5.2.20 or greater. If you have done this, then no other workarounds are necessary, other workarounds are available if it isn’t possible for you to upgrade quickly.

Tanzu

 

How can you assess your Spring4Shell exposure?

Using the VMware Carbon Black Container vulnerability management module, you can detect the vulnerability and get details on the CVE, affected images, and affected workloads: Graphical user interface, table</p>
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Table</p>
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How can you protect against Spring4Shell?

Using VMware Carbon Black Container, we can detect the version of Linux packages, GO packages, Java packages included in container images. Carbon Black will detect vulnerable Java packages like spring-beans, spring-web, and spring-webmvc. Because this vulnerability is critical (9.8), it is highly recommended to block the deployment of vulnerable images using a hardening security policy:

Blocking deployment of images with critical vulnerabilities can be achieved in 3 simple steps:

 

Of course, as this vulnerability is of type RCE (Remote Code Execution), all hardening features from the security policy can potentially minimize the blast radius of the exploitation of this vulnerability.

Spring4shell 0

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This post covers how you can use VMware Carbon Black Cloud Container to protect your containerized workloads. To also stay up to date on protecting your infrastructure please visit the VMware Security Advisory itself, VMSA-2022-0010, and subscribe to the VMSA mailing list for updates and future notices.

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