Internet users told to ditch web browser Java 7 plug-ins

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The US government is ordering internet users to disable Java in their web browsers following the discovery of a new Oracle Java 7 zero-day vulnerability.

The glitch allows Java applets to carry out arbitrary operating system commands.

It is understood to affect web browsers that use the Java 7 plug-in, including Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Apple Safari.

The Department of Homeland Security's United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has issued a statement alerting internet users around the world to the issue.

Reports indicate this vulnerability is being actively exploited.

"Reports indicate this vulnerability is being actively exploited, and exploit code is publicly available," the statement reads.

It warns end users could be coerced into visiting sites hosting malicious applets, allowing hackers to execute arbitrary operating system commands on vulnerable systems.

Internet users can protect themselves by disabling Java web browser plug-ins, the statement added.

Security vendor FireEye said the vulnerability has been seized on by hackers to carry out "limited targeted attacks" originating from Chinese web servers.

Atif Mushtaq, security researcher at FireEye, called on Oracle to issue a patch in a FireEye blog post. "It will be interesting to see when Oracle plans [to patch it.] Until then, most of the Java users are at the mercy of this exploit," he wrote.

Oracle declined to comment.

The next Oracle Java patch is expected to drop on 16 October 2012.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.