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Apple Blocks Java Entirely Over Security

An update to XProtect on OS X 10.6 has blocked Java entirely. Given the nature of XProtect and the standing security problems in Oracle’s product, it seems as of Apple has taken a stance on security. However, that hasn’t stopped some users from complaining.

The changes mark the second time in as many weeks that Apple as moved to block Oracle’s code. Earlier this month, Apple took the same actions as Mozilla and others, when they blocked vulnerable versions of Java from operating. Oracle released a patch for the security issues, but the fix introduced two new problems. Now, as things seem, Apple has moved forward to block the software entirely.

An ongoing discussion about the update in the Apple community forums has people on both sides debating it. While some applaud the block, others say that the unannounced, complete removal of Java could hinder legitimate work.

“This is a simplistic answer and avoids the issue of the company installing software without the user's permission, no matter whether it may wreak havoc or not. (I guess it really is 1984!) There are government run aviation related websites people use to gather critical information and that still use Java. (And we all know how long it takes the government to change.) I can find that data elsewhere, but it takes more work, longer, and makes the user have to piece together data that is intuitively obvious,” complained a user unhappy with Apple’s fix.

Late last month, Oracle's Milton Smith, head of Java security, held a conference call with members of the Java user community where he acknowledged many of the security concerns over Java, and said Oracle plans to improve efforts to communicate with the Java community about security. "No amount of talking or smoothing over is going to make anybody happy or do anything for us," Smith said. "We have to fix Java."

Earlier this week, SecurityWeek reported that Mozilla was moving to prevent plug-ins from loading automatically, and block insecure and outdated installations from operating. 

“One of the most common exploitation vectors against users is drive by exploitation of vulnerable plugins. In this kind of attack, a user with outdated or vulnerable plugins installed in their browser can be infected with malware simply by browsing to any site that contains a plugin exploit kit... The Click to Play feature protects users in these scenarios since plugins are not automatically loaded simply by visiting a website,” Mozilla’s Michael Coates explained.

Apple has made no statements about the XProtect update.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.