Apple sent out a Java update for OS X Lion and Snow Leopard to make it more difficult for hackers to exploit other vulnerabilities.
The update brought Java 6 up to par with Oracle’s version 35, which it released Aug. 30. Oracle’s “out-of-band,” or emergency patch, fixed three bugs in Java 7 that hackers had already begun exploiting, and made one change to Java 6.
“[The latter] represents a security-in-depth issue that is not directly exploitable but which can be used to aggravate security vulnerabilities that can be directly exploited,” Oracle said in its advisory of a week ago.
Apple had to provide the defense-in-depth update because it still maintains Java 6, which it bundled with 2009’s OS X Snow Leopard and offered to users running 2011’s Lion as an optional download when they encountered a Java applet on the Web.
However, Apple is not responsible for Java 7; the company handed back control of the software to Oracle in 2010. The OS X patches for the three Java 7 flaws, then, came from Oracle and shipped last week alongside the fixes for the Windows version of Java 7.
Today’s Java patch was the first Apple update for OS X Snow Leopard since June 12. Although Snow Leopard still powers about a third of all Macs, Apple has likely halted security updates for that edition. If Apple follows past practice, it will continue to update a small group of homegrown and third-party components — iTunes, Java, QuickTime and Safari — in Snow Leopard for several months.
You can download Java 6 version 35 from Apple’s website for OS X Snow Leopard and Lion. Users running Java can also wait for Software Update to notify them the Java download is available.