The Apple logo is shown on the front of the company's flagship retail store in San Francisco, California January 23, 2013. (Photo : REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)
Apple has remotely blocked Java 7 web plugins on Macs for the second time in a month. On Thursday, Mac applications that used the Java programming language simply stopped running, surprising and inconveniencing many Mac users.
Earlier this month, Apple discovered that its Java applications could be vulnerable to hacking. In response, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security "recommended disabling Java in Web browsers to avoid potential hacking attacks," reported the Associated Press.
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Oracle, the company that owns Java, issued updates to fix these vulnerabilities, but apparently Java is still susceptible to hacks. To avoid further attacks, the AP reported that "Apple is blocking the latest version of Java from running on the most recent versions of its Mac operating system, and blocking an older version."
Apple does this by sending out a virtual "blacklist" to Macs that can remotely prevent them from running certain programs, the AP reports.
Coincidentally, the Associated Press itself was inconvenienced by Apple's unannounced blocking of Java applications; the blockage interfered with a Java-run application the news organization uses to manage photos.
"The situation caught us by surprise and a number of our machines could not operate for a time, but we had enough capability to work around the problem in the meantime," said spokesman Paul Colford in an AP report. "We expect the affected machines to be operating by day's end."
An Oracle spokesman had no comment on Apple's decision to blacklist Java applications.