After attacks, Oracle patches Java bug

A 0day attack was being used in drive-by downloads

One week after a critical bug was made public, Oracle has patched its Java virtual machine to fix an exploit that could be used to sneak malicious software onto a computer.

That's a good thing, because earlier this week, security vendor AVG said that it had spotted the exploit for this bug being used in a real-world cyber-attack.

Oracle released its Java SE 6 version 20 update Thursday morning. It addresses three security bugs in Java, including the vulnerability exploited in AVG's attack, which was made public last week by Google researcher Tavis Ormandy.

That flaw affects the Windows version of Java 6 10 and later, Ormandy said in a note disclosing the problem, posted to a security discussion list last week.

He said that Oracle's Java team had initially told him that the vulnerability wasn't serious enough to force it to rush out a patch -- the next Java security update had been scheduled for July -- but Oracle apparently changed its mind after hackers started exploiting the flaw.

An Oracle spokeswoman wasn't immediately available to comment on the matter Thursday.

The flaw made public by Ormandy lies in the way Java's Web Start component lets users launch applications from a URL. An attacker can tell the virtual machine to install a maliciously encoded Java library, which could then be used to start a malicious program.

Earlier this week, AVG Technologies reported that the Web site had been hacked and was redirecting visitors to a Russian server that launched just such an attack.

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