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Oracle says Java flaw filed, but Homeland Security still recommends disabling it

LOS ANGELES — Oracle Corp. said Monday it has released a fix for the flaw in its Java software that raised an alarm from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security last week. Even after the patch was issued, the federal agency continued to recommend that users disable Java in their Web browsers.

"This and previous Java vulnerabilities have been widely targeted by attackers, and new Java vulnerabilities are likely to be discovered," the DHS said Monday in an updated alert published on the website of its Computer Emergency Readiness Team. "To defend against this and future Java vulnerabilities, consider disabling Java in Web browsers until adequate updates are available."

The alert follows the department's warning late Thursday. Java allows programs to run within websites and powers some advertising networks. Users who disable Java may not be able to see portions of websites that display real-time data such as stock prices, graphical menus, weather updates and ads.

Vulnerability in the latest version, Java 7, was "being actively exploited," the department said.

Java 7 was released in 2011. Oracle said installing its "Update 11" will fix the problem.

Security experts said that special code to take advantage of the weakness is being sold on the black market through so-called "Web exploit packs" to Internet abusers who can use it to steal credit card data and personal information, or cause other harm.

The packs, sold for upward of $1,500 apiece, make complex hacker codes available to relative amateurs. This particular flaw even enables hackers to compromise legitimate websites by taking over ad networks. The result: Users are redirected to malicious sites where damaging software can be loaded onto their computers.

Kaspersky Lab estimated that last year 50 percent of all website exploitations were due to vulnerabilities in Java. Adobe's Acrobat Reader accounted for 28 percent of vulnerabilities.

To unplug Java

In Firefox, select "Tools" from the main menu, then

"Add-ons," then click the "Disable" button next to any

Java plug-ins.

In Safari, click "Safari" in the main menu bar,

then "Preferences," then select the "Security" tab

and uncheck the button next to "Enable Java."

In Chrome, type or copy "Chrome://Plugins"

into your browser's address bar, then click

the "Disable" button below any Java plug-ins.

In Internet Explorer, follow these instructions for disabling Java in all browsers via the Control Panel: There is no way to completely disable Java specifically in IE.bc-java

Oracle says Java flaw filed, but Homeland Security still recommends disabling it 01/14/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 14, 2013 10:33pm]
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