Java Security: It's Feeling a Little Flashy

Java security updates have been common news recently with both Apple and Oracle rolling out patches for serious flaws -- so much so that Java is beginning to feel like the new Flash.

Java's feeling more like FlashJava's feeling more like Flash

Apple released a new security update for Jave SE 6 earlier this week, and Oracle followed suit with a patch for Java SE 7. These updates followed Apple remotely disabling Java SE 7 because of a major security flaw in January, Oracle releasing a patch, Apple disabling Java SE 7 again, another Oracle patch coming out, and finally Apple's most recent update for Java SE 6.

The cat-and-mouse nature of security issues and patches is looking more and more like the ongoing fight Adobe battles as it tries to keep Flash safe for its users. Apple distanced itself from Flash some time ago, and has been doing the same with Java now, too.

Apple stopped shipping Java as a standard part of the OS X installation, and last year began pushing users to Oracle's Mac Java builds instead of its own. That in and of itself can cause confusion because Apple still supports its Java SE 6 implementation while Oracle is supporting Java SE 7, which means there are parallel versions of the platform available for the Mac that are being supported independently by different companies.

The ongoing fight to patch Java security issues has a very Flash feel to it, and even has users saying it's time to uninstall Java from your Mac -- which is a sentement that also has a very Flash feel. OS X also has a built-in mechanism that disables Java if it hasn't run in a month, so many Mac users may not be using the Java platform at all.

While Apple is clearly pushing its Mac users away from Java, don't expect it to go away any time soon. Even though you may not need it in your Web browser, unlike Javascript with is similar in name only, it's a critical part in some apps including Adobe's Creative Suite.

Apps like Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator, for example, rely on Java for some interface elements and other features, and the CrashPlan backup system relies on Java for its interface, too. While Adobe won't be dropping its reliance on Java in the foreseable future, CrashPlan has told The Mac Observer it is working on a native Mac app to be released in the coming months.

Java is now like Flash in that it isn't included as part of the default OS X installation, Apple is pushing customers away from the platform, and it seems to be suffering from ongoing big security headaches. Combine Apple's push with those headaches, and the writing is on the wall: Apple is Flashing Java.

[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]