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Apple releases Java patches (finally)

Better six months late than never

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Apple has released security updates for Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server 10.4.11 and 10.5.7 - more than six months after Sun Microsystems warned the world of flaws in its Java virtual machine that make it easy for attackers to execute malware on users' Macs, PCs, and Linux boxes.

Better late than never.

Last month, The Reg took Apple to task for not promptly fixing that known vulnerability. Today, Cupertino's fixes are finally available. At that time, patches had been released for Windows and Hewlett-Packard, Red Hat, and Suse Linux. Mac users had to wait until today.

So if you're reading this on a Mac, stop right now, fire up Software Update and install the patch - 10.4 Release 9 or 10.5 Update 4. We'll wait.

Back? Okay. You've just applied a patch that, according to Apple, fixes multiple vulnerabilities in Java, "the most serious of which may allow an untrusted Java applet to obtain elevated privileges."

Without the patch - in other words, for the past six months - if you visited a malicious web page, it could install a Java applet that could lead to arbitrary code execution with your level of privileges.

If you followed our suggestion last month to take Security researcher Landon Fuller's advice to disable Java applets in your browser and uncheck the "Open 'safe' files after downloading" setting in Safari's General preferences, you're now free to reverse those changes. ®

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