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Apple beefs up Java security

12 Jun 2012
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Apple has updated its OS X Java components which will reduce the risk of users falling victim to web-based attacks.

The Java for OS X update will include vulnerability fixes as well as the introduction of a pair of new security protections on both OS X 10.6 and 10.7 Lion systems as well as OS X server deployments.

The company said that the security tools would be designed to detect unsafe versions of Java and disable the components before an attacker can target the system for malware infection.

The first of the new security tools will detect how long the Java browser plug-in and Java Web Start components have been inactive on a system. If neither has been accessed in the last 35 days, OS X will automatically disable both plug-ins.

Users can re-activate the plug-ins by clicking on an alert tab which is displayed upon encountering Java code on a web page.

The second tool, meanwhile, will be designed to spot out-of-date Java installations. When a system is found to be running an outdated or vulnerable Java browser plug-in or Web Start application, the components will be disabled and the user will be asked to update their system.

Along with the protections, the company said that it would be patching 11 Java security vulnerabilities, including one which could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on a targeted system.

Both Apple's handling of security issues and the security policies of Java itself have been criticised of late by researchers who allege that the companies aren't doing enough to address security vulnerabilities in a timely manner. Researchers have suggested that all web-enabled applications and plug-ins should automatically check for updates multiple times each week.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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