Is Java 7 currently safe to use?
Last week, Oracle released emergency updates to fix zero-day vulnerabilities in Java 7 and Java 6. But in the case of the Java 7 fix, the new version allows an existing flaw--spotted by security researchers and disclosed to Oracle earlier this year--to be exploited to bypass the Java sandbox. In other words, while fixing some flaws, Oracle opened the door to another one.
In light of that situation, multiple security experts said that businesses should continue to temporarily disable all Java use, whenever possible. "There are still not-yet-addressed, serious security issues that affect the most recent version of Java 7," said Adam Gowdiak, CEO and founder of Poland-based Security Explorations, which initially disclosed the exploited vulnerabilities to Oracle in April. "In that context, disabling Java until proper patches are available seems to be an adequate solution," he said via email.
A month later I read a new article in InformationWeek titled "Oracle's Java Revival," also available as Two Years Later: A Report Card On Oracle's Ownership of Java by Andrew Binstock. The article appeared in the 29 October 2012 issue of InformationWeek, at a time when the security community continued to reel from repeated hammering of Java vulnerabilities.
I expected some mention of Java security woes in the article. About halfway through, with the word "security" not yet in print, I found the following:
In 2011, Oracle did not fare much better. The welcome release of Java 7 was marred by the revelation that it included serious defects that the company knew about.
Ok, maybe there will be some expansion of this idea? Shouldn't a terrible security record be a major factor affecting enterprise use of Java and a reflection on Oracle's handling of Java? Instead I read this:
I'm inclined to agree with James Gosling's revised opinion of Oracle's stewardship, that it's been good for Java...
However, the record is mixed in other areas...
Oracle's ambiguous relationship with the JCP and the OSS communities remain two other weak points.
That's it? Security pros continue to tell enterprise users to disable Java, and the development community is more concerned about features, personalities, and community relations?
I think the Java development community, and especially Oracle, must reevaluate their responsibilities regarding security. Otherwise, they may find themselves coding for a platform that enterprise users will increasingly disable.