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Apple Fixes Java Security Hole

The flaw could have allowed a Java applet to execute malicious code on affected Macs, potentially leading to information theft or a compromised system.

Thomas Claburn

June 15, 2009

2 Min Read

After being goaded by the online security community last month to respond faster to software vulnerabilities, Apple on Monday finally fixed a longstanding flaw in the Java code that the company ships with its Mac OS X operating system.

The flaw could allow a Java applet to execute malicious code on affected Macs, potentially leading to information theft or a compromised system.

In a patch summary posted Monday, Apple states, "Java for Mac OS X 10.5 Update 4 delivers improved reliability, security, and compatibility for Java SE 6, J2SE 5.0 and J2SE 1.4.2 on Mac OS X v10.5."

The company also released an update for Mac OS v10.4.

In May, Intego, which makes security software for Macs, warned Mac users to disable Java in their Web browsers until Apple got around to fixing the Java vulnerability.

"Apple has been aware of this vulnerability for at least five months, since it was made public, but has neglected to issue a security update to protect against this issue," Intego said in a security advisory last month.

Intego's criticism was echoed by programmer Landon Fuller, who released proof-of-concept exploit code to underscore the significance of the Java vulnerability.

"Unfortunately, it seems that many Mac OS X security issues are ignored if the severity of the issue is not adequately demonstrated," Fuller said in a blog post last month. "Due to the fact that an exploit for this issue is available in the wild, and the vulnerability has been public knowledge for six months, I have decided to release my own proof of concept to demonstrate the issue."

Other security researchers have tried to light a fire under Apple, too. Last September, someone going by the name "Securfrog" published code to crash QuickTime after allegedly being ignored by Apple. And last August, security researchers said Apple didn't move fast enough to fix the DNS flaw identified by Dan Kaminsky.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on smartphone security. Download the report here (registration required).

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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