Oracle Corp said it is preparing an update to address a flaw in its widely used Java software after the US Department of Homeland Security urged computer users to disable the program in Web browsers because criminal hackers are exploiting a security bug to attack PCs.
“A fix will be available shortly,” the company said in a statement released late on Friday.
The US Department of Homeland Security and computer security experts on Thursday said that hackers had 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 Web sites.
Java is a computer language that enables programmers to write software utilizing just one set of code that will run on virtually any type of computer, including ones that use Microsoft Corp’s Windows, Apple Inc’s OS X and Linux, an operating system widely employed by corporations. 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 in 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 accounted for 50 percent of all cyberattacks last year in which hackers broke into computers by exploiting software bugs, according to Kaspersky. That was followed by Adobe Reader, which was involved in 28 percent of all incidents. Microsoft’s Windows and Internet Explorer were involved in about 3 percent of incidents, according to the survey.
The US Department of Homeland Security said attackers could trick targets into visiting malicious Web sites that would infect their PCs with software capable of exploiting the bug in Java.