Starting this month, Oracle will be automatically replacing Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 6 installations with JRE 7 installations on a small amount of users’ systems (the users are randomly chosen). This will be done to ensure that the automatic upgrading mechanism is working properly. In February 2013, the last public version of JRE 6 (Java SE 6 Update 39) will be made available.
So what does this mean to you?
It means attackers will have a harder time exploiting your system. Due to the fact that JRE 6 does not have Address Space Layout Randomization/Data Execution Protection (ASLR/DEP) support, many exploit writers use it to successfully compromise systems through browser-based exploits. Since JRE 7 utilizes ASLR/DEP, it takes away one of the handy tools that attackers use to compromise systems. The end result is that attackers will have fewer resources at their disposal as they attempt to exploit systems.
As always, we recommend using the latest version of software that is available, so this change is in line with our recommendations. If you are currently using JRE 6 and wish to upgrade, you can grab the latest version from Oracle’s Java download page.
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