13 Jan 2013

Fix for Java security flaw available 'shortly'

1:21 pm on 13 January 2013

Oracle Corp says it is preparing an update to address a flaw in Java software after the US Department of Homeland Security urged computer users to disable the widely used programme because hackers are exploiting a security bug.

The department and computer security experts said on Thursday that criminal 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

The company said on Friday a fix would be available shortly, Reuters reports.

The news agency said 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.

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.

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% of all cyber attacks last year in which hackers broke into computers by exploiting software bugs, according to security software maker Kaspersky Lab.

That was followed by Adobe Reader, which was involved in 28% of all incidents.

Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer were involved in about 3% of incidents, according to the survey.