Monthly Archives: January 2013

Oracle Corp to fix Java security flaw “shortly”

By Jim Finkle | Reuters – 1-12-13

BOSTON (Reuters) – Oracle Corp said it is preparing an update to address a flaw in its widely used Java software after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security urged computer users to disable the program in web browsers because criminal hackers are exploiting a security bug to attack PCs.

“A fix will be available shortly,” the company said in a statement released late on Friday.

Company officials could not be reached on Saturday to say how quickly the update would be available for the hundreds of millions of PCs that have Java installed.

The Department of Homeland Security and computer security experts said on Thursday that hackers figured out how to exploit the bug in a version of Java used with Internet browsers to install malicious software on PCs. That has enabled them to commit crimes from identity theft to making an infected computer part of an ad-hoc computer network that can be used to attack websites.

Java is a computer language that enables programmers to write software utilizing just one set of codes that will run on virtually any type of computer, including ones that use Microsoft Corp’s Windows, Apple Inc’s OS X and Linux, an operating system widely employed by corporations. It is installed in Internet browsers to access web content and also directly on PCs, server computers and other devices that use it to run a wide variety of computer programs.

Oracle said in its statement that the recently discovered flaw only affects Java 7, the program’s most-recent version, and Java software designed to run on browsers.

Java is so widely used that the software has become a prime target for hackers. Last year, Java surpassed Adobe Systems Inc’s Reader software as the most frequently attacked piece of software, according to security software maker Kaspersky Lab.

Java was responsible for 50 percent of all cyber attacks last year in which hackers broke into computers by exploiting software bugs, according to Kaspersky. That was followed by Adobe Reader, which was involved in 28 percent of all incidents. Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer were involved in about 3 percent of incidents, according to the survey.

The Department of Homeland Security said attackers could trick targets into visiting malicious websites that would infect their PCs with software capable of exploiting the bug in Java.

It said an attacker could also infect a legitimate website by uploading malicious software that would infect machines of computer users who trust that site because they have previously visited it without experiencing any problems.

They said developers of several popular tools, known as exploit kits, used by criminal hackers to attack PCs, have added software that allows hackers to exploit the newly discovered bug in Java.

Security experts have been scrutinizing the safety of Java since a similar security scare in August, which prompted some of them to advise using the software only on an as-needed basis.

At the time, they advised businesses to allow their workers to use Java browser plug-ins only when prompted for permission by trusted programs such as GoToMeeting, a Web-based collaboration tool from Citrix Systems Inc.

Java suffered another setback in October when Apple began removing old versions of the software from Internet browsers of Mac computers after its customers installed new versions of its OS X operating system. Apple did not provide a reason for the change and both companies declined to comment at the time.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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How do I disable Java in my web browser?

I copied this information directly from Java website. I urge you to follow the directions here to disable Jave until further notice. If you go slowly and read it step by step, making sure you understand what it directs, it will work. Be sure to disable it on every browser you use.

This article applies to:

  • Platform(s): Solaris SPARC, Solaris x86, Red Hat Linux, SUSE Linux, Oracle Enterprise Linux, Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista, Windows 2008 Server, Macintosh OS X
  • Browser(s): Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari
  • Java version(s): 7.0, 7u10+

Starting with Java Version 7 Update 10, a new security feature has been added to Java. Some web pages may include content or apps that use the Java plug-in, and these can now be disabled using a single option in the Java Control Panel.

alert icon Disabling Java through the Java Control Panel will disable Java in all browsers.

Find the Java Control Panel

Windows XP

  • Click on the Start button and then click on the Control Panel option.
  • Double click on the Java icon to open the Java Control Panel.

Windows 7, Vista

  • Click on the Start button and then click on the Control Panel option.
  • In the Control Panel Search enter Java Control Panel.
  • Click on the Java icon to open the Java Control Panel.

Windows 8
Use search to find the Control Panel

  • Press Windows logo key + W to open the Search charm to search settings
    OR
    Drag the Mouse pointer to the bottom-right corner of the screen, then click on the Search icon.
  • In the search box enter Java Control Panel
  • Click on Java icon to open the Java Control Panel.Java Control Panel
Disable Java through the Java Control Panel

Enable Java

Note: The example shows Java Control Panel for Java 7 Update 10

  1. In the Java Control Panel, click on the Security tab.
  2. Deselect the check box for Enable Java content in the browser. This will disable the Java plug-in in the browser.
  3. Click Apply. When the Windows User Account Control (UAC) dialog appears, allow permissions to make the changes.
  4. Click OK in the Java Plug-in confirmation window.
  5. Restart the browser for changes to take effect.

RELATED INFORMATION

Disable the Java content in the particular browser
Internet Explorer

The only way to completely disable Java in Internet Explorer (IE) is to disable Java through the Java Control Panel as noted above.

Chrome
  1. Click on the Chrome menu, and then select Settings.
  2. At the bottom of Settings window, click Show advanced settings
  3. Scroll down to the Privacy section and click on Content Settings.
  4. In the Content Settings panel, scroll down to the Plug-ins section.
  5. Under the Plug-ins section, click Disable individual plug-ins.
  6. In the Plugins panel, scroll to the Java section. Click Disable to disable the Java Plug-in.
  7. Close and restart the browser to enable the changes.

Note: Alternatively, you can access the Plug-ins settings by typing about:plugins in the browser address bar.

Firefox
  1. Click on the Firefox tab and then select Add-ons
  2. In the Add-ons Manager window, select Plugins
  3. Click Java (TM) Platform plugin to select it
  4. Click Disable (if the button displays Enable then Java is already disabled)
Safari
  1. Choose Safari Preferences
  2. Choose the Security option
  3. Deselect Enable Java
  4. Close Safari Preferences window

U.S. warns on Java software as security concerns escalate

ReutersBy Jim Finkle | Reuters – 1-11-13

U.S. Department of Homeland Security urged computer users to disable Oracle Corp’s Java software, amplifying security experts’ prior warnings to hundreds of millions of consumers and businesses that use it to surf the Web.

Hackers have figured out how to exploit Java to install malicious software enabling them to commit crimes ranging from identity theft to making an infected computer part of an ad-hoc network of computers that can be used to attack websites.

“We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem,” the Department of Homeland Security’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team said in a posting on its website late on Thursday.

“This and previous Java vulnerabilities have been widely targeted by attackers, and new Java vulnerabilities are likely to be discovered,” the agency said. “To defend against this and future Java vulnerabilities, disable Java in Web browsers.”

Oracle declined on Friday to comment on the warning.

Java is a computer language that enables programmers to write software utilizing just one set of code that will run on virtually any type of computer, including ones that use Microsoft Corp’s Windows, Apple Inc’s OS X and Linux, an operating system widely employed by corporations.

Computer users access Java programs through modules, or plug-ins, that run Java software on top of browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox.

The U.S. government’s warning on Java came after security experts warned on Thursday of the newly discovered flaw.

It is relatively rare for government agencies to advise computer users to completely disable software due to a security bug, particularly in the case of widely used programs such as Java. They typically recommend taking steps to mitigate the risk of attack while manufacturers prepare an update, or hold off on publicizing the problem until an update is prepared.

In September, the German government advised the public to temporarily stop using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser to give it time to patch a security vulnerability that opened it to attacks.

Java is so widely used that the software has become a prime target for hackers. Last year Oracle’s Java surpassed Adobe Systems Inc’s Reader software as the most frequently attacked piece of software, according to security software maker Kaspersky Lab.

Java was responsible for 50 percent of all cyber attacks last year in which hackers broke into computers by exploiting software bugs, according Kaspersky. That was followed by Adobe Reader, which was involved in 28 percent of all incidents. Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer were involved in about 3 percent of incidents, according to the survey.

The Department of Homeland Security said attackers could trick targets into visiting malicious websites that would infect their PCs with software capable of exploiting the bug in Java.

It said an attacker could also infect a legitimate website by uploading malicious software that would infect machines of computer users who trust that site because they have previously visited it without experiencing any problems.

They said developers of several popular tools, known as exploit kits, which criminal hackers use to attack PCs, have added software that allows hackers to exploit the newly discovered bug in Java to attack computers.

Security experts have been scrutinizing the safety of Java since a similar security scare in August, which prompted some of them to advise using the software only on an as-needed basis.

At the time they advised businesses to allow their workers to use Java browser plug-ins only when prompted for permission by trusted programs such as GoToMeeting, a Web-based collaboration tool from Citrix Systems Inc.

Java suffered another setback in October when Apple began removing old versions of the software from Internet browsers of Mac computers when its customers installed new versions of its OS X operating system. Apple did not provide a reason for the change and both companies declined to comment at the time.

Adam Gowdiak, a researcher with Polish security firm Security Explorations, told Reuters he believes that Oracle fails to properly test its software fixes for security flaws. “It’s definitely safer for users to stay away from Java ’til Oracle starts taking security seriously,” he said.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Dan Grebler)