Reacting to a spate of recent critical security flaws that has made the Java runtime environment a popular target for attackers, Oracle has fast-tracked the release of a patch to plug holes in the software.
The February 2013 Critical Patch Update Advisory contains 50 new security fixes for several products, including Java 5.0 update 38, 6 update 38 (and earlier) and the most recent JRE 7 update 11 and previous versions.
JavaFX and current development kits are also affected by the security advisory.
Oracle said that the massive patch was brought forward due to "active exploitation in the wild of one of the vulnerabilities affecting the Java Runtime Environment in desktop browsers".
Otherwise, the patch was scheduled for release on 19 February.
Writing on the Oracle Software Security Assurance blog, Eric Maurice advised that 44 of the 50 vulnerabilites apply only to client deployment of Java such as in browsers, with one security flaw affecting the installation of the runtime environment itself.
However, Maurice warned that three of the vulnerabilites also apply to server deployments and could be exploited through supplying malicious input to application programming interfaces.
"The size of this Critical Patch Update, as well as its early publication, demonstrate Oracle’s intention to accelerate the release of Java fixes, particularly to help address the security worthiness of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) in desktop browsers," Maurice said.
The company recommended that users apply the megapatch as soon as possible, thanks to the threat posed by a successful attack.
Oracle plans to release further critical patch updates on a quarterly schedule, with the next one due 18 June, followed by 15 October and then 14 January 2014.