Bugs in SpringShell and Spring Cloud Need Patches

  • By Patrick Ryan
  • Apr 08, 2022

Bugs within SpringShell and Spring Cloud are spurring the need for patching.  The push for patching is the result of proof-of-concept exploits. At the moment, a minimum of one bug is being exploited.

What are the Vulnerabilities all About?

The two remote code execution (RCE) weaknesses within Spring IO made by VMware have the potential to compromise the platforms used for the creation of web-based applications.  Each of the unique flaws has a proof-of-concept exploit.  VMware representatives have stated at least one of the flaws is currently being exploited.

The Spring Cloud Function weakness formally referred to as CVE-2022-22963, can be remotely exploited through the default configuration when operating the Spring Boot application.  The Spring Boot application hinges on the functionality of Spring Cloud.

VMware has stated that the versions of Spring Cloud Function numbered 3.1.6, 3.2.2, and higher are affected by the bug.  In terms of the way the weakness is exploited, VMware representatives have stated the use of routing functionality sets the stage for the user to use a uniquely designed SpEL in the form of a routing expression.  Such an act has the potential to spur remote code execution, providing access to localized resources.

The Spring Boot application is susceptible when dependent on packages such as the spring cloud starter function web and spring cloud function web that allow for the Spring Cloud Function to occur.  Specifically, a recent blog post written by the digital security team at Spring notes that the bugs are applicable to Spring WebFlux and Spring MVC applications that operate JDK 9+.  

The exploit necessitates that the application operates on Tomcat in the form of a WAR deployment. However, if the application is deployed in the form of a Spring Boot jar that is executable, it is not susceptible to exploitation.   It is worth mentioning that the bug’s nature is still somewhat mysterious, meaning additional avenues for exploitation will likely be identified in the weeks ahead.

What Should Spring Cloud and SpringShell Users Do?

VMware has issued patches for each of the bugs.  The company encourages SpringShell and Spring Cloud users to apply those patches as soon as possible.  A representative from the digital security solutions provider, JFrog, has encouraged Spring users to check the pom.xml for packages that are dependent on the spring cloud function core.

VMware representatives have also recommended that those using the compromised versions upgrade to the appropriate new version, be it 3.2.3 or 3.1.7.  The company’s digital security report states no other additional digital security steps are required.

How Serious is the Threat?

VMware initially rated the Spring Cloud Function weakness with a 5.4 CVSS score.  The company’s representatives also assigned the threat with a “medium” rating in terms of severity.  However, in the ensuing day, VMware’s digital security team hiked the severity rating all the way up to the critical level.

How did VMware Discover the Bugs?

VMware’s internal team is quick to credit an external digital security researcher for pinpointing the bugs.  The outside researcher in question goes by the moniker of m09u3r, meaning they will remain anonymous.  Another digital security specialist named Souiane Tahiri states the unidentified individual has published the exploit for the vulnerability on GitHub.

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