Just days after Microsoft issued a fix for a "potentially serious" security flaw in its Internet Explorer 3.0 browser, JavaSoft had to do the same for its Java Virtual Machine (JVM).
JavaSoft's staff found the bug during a routine check. It was capable of bringing the JVM to a halt and crashing Java applets and applications running on any browser.
Amy Porter, European marketing manager for JavaSoft, the Sun division which develops Java, said: "There were no actual attacks. We found the bug on our own, without the help of any students, and sent out a fix to all our licensees within 24 hours."
Porter went on to explain that the bug "only affects the byte code which is executed by the JVM".
The Internet bug-fixing activity prompted yet another security row between Microsoft and JavaSoft.
Over the last few weeks there has been a spate of security flaws in Internet technology, particularly Microsoft's ActiveX. Asked if users' confidence had been undermined, Porter said: "Of course people are going to be concerned about security but Java and Active X are two completely different technologies.
Microsoft's ActiveX is fundamentally a retro-fit of old technology designed for the desktop. That's why it is so easily hacked into."
Mike Pryke-Smith, developer product manager at Microsoft UK, denied this but admitted that "any piece of code can be hacked into" if the hacker is determined enough. He added: "Security is always going to be an issue ... That's why we set up the Microsoft Web executable security advisory committee."
As PC Week went to press Microsoft was faced with yet another Internet Explorer bug. This time students from the University of Maryland found a bug that allows hackers to retrieve files or trigger programs on a user's computer and install viruses from the Web.
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