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Apple Java update fails to address mega-flaw – researcher

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Apple released a Java update on Wednesday but it does not tackle a high-profile flaw that has become the target of attacks over recent weeks.

Java for OS X 2012-005 and Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 10 offer patched versions of Java for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion systems that tackle CVE-2012-0547. But this is a different beastie from the CVE-2012-4681 megabug currently stalking Java users, KrebsOnSecurity reports.

Security vulnerabilities in Java are an all-too-real danger for Mac fans, as illustrated by the spread of the infamous Flashback Trojan, which created a 600,000 strain botnet earlier this year. Flashback also exploited a Java hole fixed by Oracle in February, but which had been left unpatched on Mac systems until April, after Flashback had taken hold.

Oracle patched the CVE-2012-4681 megabug with an update to its vulnerable Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 1.7 last week. However Security Explorations, the firm that originally found the flaw, warned that the patch issued by Oracle was itself buggy, without going into details. Even the original flaw dates from April but people only really stood up and took notice after exploits began circulating, around two weeks ago.

It's all very messy.

The most straightforward advice in the midst of this confusion is for users to uninstall Java, or at minimum disable Java-related browser plugins, standard advice from many security firms before the arrival of Oracle's emergency fix last week. Most mainstream sites, with the exception of a few e-banking sites don't need Java in order to work. Users could use an alternative browser for such sites after disabling Java on their main browser, a move that would greatly reduce their exposure to danger.

Bootnote

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) numbers offer unique, common identifiers for publicly known security vulns. The system goes a long way towards resolving the confusing free-for-all in computer virus naming, where vendors frequently refer to strains of malware by their own internal names (eg, Conficker is also known as Downadup and Kido, and the Love Bug worm also goes by Love Letter and ILOVEYOU).

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