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Oracle Settles FTC Charges Over Java Security Updates

Software giant Oracle has agreed to settle with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over charges that it deceived customers about the security of the Java platform.

Java Standard Edition (SE), a piece of software installed on more than 850 million PCs, is often required for running online applications, including games, image viewers, and chat rooms. The platform is known to be plagued by many vulnerabilities and it’s often abused by malicious actors in their cyber attacks, but over the past years, Oracle has taken steps to improve Java security.

Oracle has been telling customers that if they install the latest security updates, their system would be safe and secure. However, the FTC says the company deceived customers by failing to inform them that these updates only removed the most recent version of Java and not all earlier, vulnerable versions, thus leaving users exposed.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Oracle was aware that its Java update process was not efficient and that malicious hackers often targeted older versions of the software in their operations.

“While Oracle did have notices on their website relating to the need to remove older versions because of the security risk they posed, the information did not explain that the update process did not automatically remove all older versions of Java SE. The updates continued to remove only the most recent version of Java SE installed until August 2014,” the FTC said.

As part of the settlement, Oracle will have to warn users during the Java update process if older versions of the software are present, notify them about the risks, and give them the option to remove the vulnerable application. Furthermore, the company will have to post notices on its website and social media channels about the settlement, along with instructions for removal of the old software versions. Oracle told SecurityWeek that it has no comment regarding the settlement. 

Last week, identity theft and credit fraud protection company LifeLock also agreed to settle charges brought by the FTC. Unlike Oracle, which settled without having to pay a fine, LifeLock will have to pay $100 million for failing to protect users’ personal and financial information.

*Updated to say that Oracle has no comment

Related Reading: Wyndham Settles FTC Charges Without Paying Fine

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.