The world is about to get another reminder about just how much of the Internet runs on technology maintained by a handful of coders working on a shoestring budget. OpenSSL — the software used by thousands of companies to encrypt online communications — is set to get a security makeover this week: The OpenSSL Software Foundation said it plans to release new versions of its code to fix a number of security weaknesses, including some classified as “high” severity.
Many of the nation’s top banks, investment firms and credit providers are vulnerable to a newly-discovered twist on a known security flaw that exposes their Web site traffic to eavesdropping. The discovery has prompted renewed warnings from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security advising vulnerable Web site owners to address the flaw as quickly as possible.
Oracle Corp. released a critical update to plug at least 20 security holes in versions of its ubiquitous Java software. Nearly all of the Java vulnerabilities can be exploited remotely to compromise vulnerable systems with little or no help from users.
If you use Java, take some time to update the program now. According to a report released this month by Microsoft, the most commonly observed exploits in the first half of 2011 were those targeting Java flaws. The report also notes that Java exploits were responsible for between one-third and one-half of all exploits observed in each of the four most recent quarters.