In a rare, if not unprecedented, move, Oracle on Thursday issued an out-of-cycle patch for vulnerabilities in Java 7 that have been widely exploited to spread malware.
“This Security Alert addresses security issues CVE-2012-4681…and two other vulnerabilities affecting Java running in web browsers on desktops,” the advisory said. “These vulnerabilities are not applicable to Java running on servers or standalone Java desktop applications. They also do not affect Oracle server-based software.”
IT administrators from around the world have been waiting with bated breath since public exploit code was posted over the weekend. Since then, the Java attack has been added to BlackHole, immediately making the crimeware kit more than doubly effective. Researchers at Symantec also reported that the exploit was being foisted by the Nitro crime gang, which have, in the past, targeted chemical companies with the goal of stealing intellectual property.
Meanwhile, experts at Sophos said they spotted Java attacks arriving in emails claiming to be from a tax accounting firm.
Researchers have estimated that at least tens of thousands of devices have become infected, and hundreds of websites have been compromised to distribute the malware.
Normally Oracle releases Java updates on a quarterly basis, with the next ones scheduled for mid-October. While the company has remained mum about this issue, much to the chagrin of many security industry professionals, issuing an emergency fix underscores how pressing this matter was to correct.
The updates can be installed here.