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Java Flaw Patched for Mac OS X, Blocked in Firefox

Apple released an update for Mac OS X users yesterday that addresses a recent Java flaw that has been exploited in the wild by attackers thanks to its inclusion in the BlackHole hacker toolkit.

"Visiting a web page containing a maliciously crafted untrusted Java applet may lead to arbitrary code execution with the privileges of the current user," said the Apple update advisory. "These issues are addressed by updating to Java version 1.6.0_29."

The fix, which is included with 11 other security bulletin items for Mac OS X, comes after Sophos security experts identified an attack on Tuesday that employs a specially crafted Trojan to exploit the known Java flaw in Mac systems.

In a Sophos blog entry posted after Apple released its update, Chester Wisniewski, senior security advisor with the firm, questioned why it took the news that the Java exploit was targeting Mac users before an update was pushed through.

"This does make you wonder whether Apple takes security as seriously as it should," said Wisniewski. "Perhaps its public facing image of being invulnerable is the prevailing attitude within the company."

Apple's update comes on the heels of Mozilla blacklisting the use of outdated versions of Java in its Firefox Web browser. What this means is that Firefox users will be notified that the Java add-on has been disabled when encountering any Web site that utilizes the Oracle applet.

Users can still use the outdated versions by agreeing to enable the pligin. However, Kev Needham, Mozilla's channel manager recommends users (no matter their OS) update their Java as soon as possible due to the "critical" nature of the flaw.

"This vulnerability -- present in the older versions of the JDK and JRE -- is actively being exploited, and is a potential risk to users," said Needham in a blog post. "To mitigate this risk, we have added affected versions of the Java plugin for Windows (Version 6 Update 30 and below as well as Version 7 Update 2 and below) to Firefox's blocklist."

The latest version of Java can be downloaded here.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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