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Oracle to lop off Java's least secure bits to save servers

More frequent patches, finer controls, planned

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Oracle has acknowledged Java's recent security problems and outlined three new security initiatives to set things to rights.

The first may not please everyone, as the company has committed to including Java updates among the quarterly Oracle Critical Patch Update it provides for all its products, as of the October 2013 update. Java previously operated a thrice-yearly patch cycle of its own.

The Oracle Critical Patch Update usually includes dozens of patches, so the inclusion of Java could swell the amount of urgent work facing IT pros when the Update lands.

The second change is outlined in this blog blog post, which offers the following hint at the future:

“Local Security Policy features will soon be added to Java and system administrators will gain additional control over security policy settings during Java installation and deployment of Java in their organization. The policy feature will, for example, allow system administrators to restrict execution of Java applets to those found on specific hosts (e.g., corporate server assets, partners, etc) and thus reduce the risk of malware infection resulting from desktops accessing unauthorized and malicious hosts.”

The post goes on to say this plan is expected to “decrease the exploitability and severity of potential Java vulnerabilities in the desktop environment and provide additional security protections for Java operating in the server environment.”

The server side will also get the following security enhancements:

“In the future, Oracle will explore stronger measures to further reduce attack surface including the removal of certain libraries typically unnecessary for server operation. Such significant measures cannot be implemented in current versions of Java since they would violate current Java specifications, but Oracle has been working with other members of the Java Community Process to enable such changes in future versions of Java.”

Those changes are the third big reveal from the post, but there's no timeframe for their advent or the arrival of the new Local Security Policy. ®

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