Feeds

Oracle releases emergency security patch for Java

Code-execution threat no more

Reducing security risks from open source software

Under criticism for not patching a critical vulnerability in its recently acquired Java virtual machine, Oracle on Thursday released an emergency update that eliminates the zero-day threat.

Functionality in the Java Web Start component made it trivial for attackers to remotely execute malicious code on end-user machines. Tavis Ormandy, one of the researchers who first discovered the threat, said he alerted Java handlers inside Oracle's Sun division, but they decided no patch was necessary before the next update release scheduled for July.

It would appear that Oracle officials had a change of heart. On early Thursday, they pushed out Java 6, update 20, which makes changes to the Java Network Launch Protocol, according to release notes. The JNLP is closely associated with Java Web Start, which makes it easy for end users to install custom libraries needed to run Java applications.

There are unconfirmed reports that the patch doesn't completely eliminate the threat, most notably in this Google translation of a report from Heise. A researcher who asked not to be named said there may be upgrade problems with the npapi plugin used by Firefox that may leave a stale version behind. Internet Explorer should be safe, however.

The out-of-cycle update is a smart move, but Oracle still has unfinished work to make Java patching more seamless. First, Java needs to stop flogging the Yahoo Toolbar each time an update is available. Patches are about security, not marketing the unwanted bloat of partners.

Another gripe we've long had about Java updates is that they reset some default settings. A case in point: If you have Java configured to check for updates daily, instead of monthly as the program does by default, you'll have to reset that preference each and every time you update. That means it could take a full 30 days to get critical security patches like the one released Thursday.

To install the patch immediately, use Java's manual update feature. In Windows, this can be done by selecting Start > Control Panel > Java > Update tab and clicking the Update Now button. And don't forget to uncheck the Yahoo installation box. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.