Newsletter Issue #875: Apple and Fixing Critical Security Problems

September 5th, 2016

At one time, it was thought that Apple paid little more than lip service to security problems on Macs and iOS gear. True, each maintenance update usually included a set of security fixes, but what if something occurred between those releases? Would Apple act quickly to keep customers safe?

You may have wondered about that in 2011, when hundreds of thousands of Macs were allegedly infected by the Flashback Trojan. Now those numbers all depended on believing one security company’s estimate. Some suggested that estimate was provided to help sell more product as much as to protect you from something nasty. But Flashback wasn’t due to any flaw in OS X. Instead, it was due to a flaw in Java, the cross-platform development scheme owned by Oracle that was bundled with OS X. Specifically it was the Java browser plugin, often used for online chat rooms and other services.

Apple seemed to take its sweet time devising a solution. Oracle did its part with a revised Java, and Apple finally made the browser plugin optional, and stopped providing Java to Mac users. The version you use now comes from Oracle, and it’s that company’s responsibility to maintain it.

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