Important Updates for Adobe Flash, Sun's Java
Adobe and Sun Microsystems have issued updates to fix security problems in their Flash Player and Java applications, respectively. Flash and Java are some of the most widely installed third-party software applications on the planet, so it's a fair bet that criminals could soon be targeting these holes to break into vulnerable systems.
The Adobe update, released July 10, brings the Flash Player to version 22.214.171.124. Users can check for the presence of Flash on their machines and tell which version is installed by visiting this link. Any installation lower than 126.96.36.199 needs to be updated.
The latest Windows version is available for download here. Anyone still using Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows NT, or classic Macintosh operating systems will need to download the 7.x updater, from this link here. The update for Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris and other operating systems is available here.
The Java update can be installed from the Java.com home page. Click on the "Do I Have Java?" link to see if your machine has the latest version (Java Version 6, Update 2). Clicking on the "Download Now" button successfully installed the latest version of the Java plug-in for both Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer browsers on my machine (if you've taken my advice to run your Windows system under a limited user account, you will need to log in using an administrator account to apply these updates).
Windows users who install the latest version of Java will notice that its entry in "Add/Remove Programs" now calls the program simply "Java (TM) 6 Update 2." Previously, those entries read "J2SE Runtime Environment," or something to that effect. Bill Curci, the Java SE product marketing manager, said Sun made the change in response to feedback from users who were confused by the various Java product names, such as J2SE, JRE, JDK.
Windows users should remove any older versions still installed on their machines, as Sun's installer does not eradicate older versions of the software, which can occupy hundreds of megabytes of disk space. Worse yet, older versions of Java hanging around on systems have in the past left even fully patched Java installations vulnerable to attack. After updating one of my home PCs with this latest version, I found that it had no fewer than four previous versions of Java installed. Each can be safely removed via the "Add/Remove Programs" feature, accessible in Windows systems from the system Control Panel.
Apple licenses Java for use in Mac OS X systems, but the company is responsible for shipping custom versions of the software, so Mac users will need to wait until Apple issues its own update.
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