Java 8 Update 40 Installer App Fun!

So perhaps you saw my previous post: Java 8 without the Adware (aka Java8Unjunker)?

Java 8 U40 App

Good stuff eh? There was something in there that got me thinking: If they didn’t sign the package, is the app doing any integrity checks on the package inside either? Hmmm let’s see…

Voice over: We’ve secretly replaced the JavaAppletPlugin.pkg package with QuickTime 7 let’s see if it can tell the difference!
Not Java

Here we go!
Sure let me authenticate right when you run before any confirmation of action – why not!? (Ugh, bad form already.)

Java8 Auth

Safe and Easy

Oh OK, “safe and easy” – I love it! But just to clarify…
By “easy” you mean: Checking lots of trust boxes and clicking “Run” buttons a lot to get a Java apps working (plus crossing your fingers)?
By “safe” you mean: a steady stream of high scored CVEs with low complexity? Or even running in Unsafe Mode when needed?

OK what’s next?


Oh dear God no! No UncheckNext.

Oh, right, away we go, I gave you my password at the door. Installing Java are we?
Java8 InstallingInstalled

OK I’ve successfully installed Java then if you say so… I guess I that’s proof alright!
It then takes you to the Verify Java page — but who cares about that!

What does /var/log/install.log say about what was installed?

QT7 install Java8


Yep it installed the QuickTime7 package we put in there and Java Updater was none the wiser.

So in conclusion… That’s a really nifty “Ask Toolbar installer” with arbitrary package installer Oracle. It’s also a great delivery vehicle for malware by nefarious folks. Heck, bundle Java along with your Trojan and the “Verify Java” page would open too! Sheesh. Is the Ask contract that lucrative? Oracle made $38 billion in revenue last year, IAC the parent of pulled in $3 billion. I guess IAC have got money to spend and Oracle will take it (but not invest in more secure installers?)

Notes: The first attempt used a QuickTimePlayer7.6.6_SnowLeopard.pkg with an expired certificate, that halted the install. The 2nd attempt I stripped out the expired certificate. It worked. The 3rd time I downloaded a newly signed version from Apple, that too worked.

Parting note for Oracle:
Sign your critical packages! If you insist on using your glorified “Ask Toolbar installer app” to do this, then require that it verify the package integrity in some way, Orable! (heh, that was a typo but I like it: Orable, ha!)

Open JavaAppletPluginJava8 No Lock


Update: Oracle is now signing the package within and the installer can no longer be duped into running an arbitrary package. The version when this article was written was, it is now

Java 8 Signed

It’s signed now!


Damaged Java 8

Attempted JavaAppletPlugin.pkg Replacement


Java 8 without the Adware (aka Java8Unjunker)

So you’ve heard the Ask toolbar is now bundled with Java 8 Update 40 for the Mac?
Yep, apparently it is.


Fortunately there’s a simple workaround! Let’s take control of our Macs and do a little spelunking into this new installer app.

Right or Control-Click the Java 8 Update and choose Show Package Contents

Show Package Contents

Navigate into Contents then Resources folder
Eureka we’ve found it: JavaAppletPlugin.pkg
JavaAppletPlugin_LocationLet’s run it!


Aw snap. It seems the package isn’t signed and Gatekeeper is not happy about that. I’m flabbergasted that they’d sign the installer app but not the package inside? (Update: I’m really flabbergasted!)

Control or right-click on JavaAppletPlugin.pkg and choose Open

Java 8 PKG Open

Click Open

Open JavaAppletPlugin

Here we are. Your unsigned Java installer awaits.


Alternately… Java8Unjunker.command

script I just made to do the same thing plus some other nice things like: name the package and un-quarantine it. Of course being a script it’s not signable! Gatekeeper will balk if it’s on. You’ll need to right-click and choose Open as before.


Drag in your Java 8 Updater


Press Enter.
Voilà! A folder with your package ready to double-click and go.





#Java 8 Unjunker - Joel Bruner
#Simply moves the JavaAppletPlugin.pkg package out of the installer app (which installs the Ask Toolbar) to the Desktop, renames and Un-Quarantines it

#touch file for debugging
[ -f /tmp/debug ] && set -x

#take command line argument too

#check to see if path provided is present and valid
#otherwise get the path
while [ -z "$sourceApp" -o ! -d "$sourceApp" ]; do
echo -n "Drag in Java 8 Update and press enter: "
read sourceApp

#get the version from the app
sourcePKGVersion=$(defaults read "$sourceApp"/Contents/Info CFBundleVersion)

#make Desktop folder and copy pkg to it, renamed
echo "Creating Directory ~/Desktop/Java $sourcePKGVersion"
mkdir ~/Desktop/"Java $sourcePKGVersion"
echo "Copying JavaAppletPlugin.pkg to ~/Desktop/Java $sourcePKGVersion/JavaAppletPlugin_${sourcePKGVersion}.pkg"
cp "$sourceApp"/Contents/Resources/JavaAppletPlugin.pkg ~/Desktop/"Java $sourcePKGVersion"/JavaAppletPlugin_${sourcePKGVersion}.pkg

#since Oracle doesn't sign the pkg just the .app we need to strip the quarantine xa off to suppress the warning
xattr -d ~/Desktop/"Java $sourcePKGVersion"/JavaAppletPlugin_${sourcePKGVersion}.pkg

echo "Java Unjunked. Opening Folder."
open ~/Desktop/"Java $sourcePKGVersion"




Naming Conventions! Please, Apple?

Apple, there was a time when your updates had naming conventions for the various platforms there were targeted for. Suffixes like Tiger, Leopard, Snow, etc. made it easy to identify for what platform an update package was intended.


Names used to be useful, who did you hire between April and September of 2012?

But then something happened. Somewhere after Snow Leopard 2012-002 and the first appearance of the 10.7/10.8 Java updates: form trumped function and all useful naming conventions were removed.

Which Java

Elegantly named and informational useless packages. Beautiful.

In the case of Java not just the platform name, but even what release number was removed too! Oh sure, someone took the time to change the disk image volume name, thanks, but once it was copied out of there, good luck in keeping things straight! Since these are flat packages now, Finder can’t tell you the version number in column view anymore, either.


What platform are you for? Should I just chuck all these at a machine and see what sticks?

How about the latest security updates? They all named the same! What a mess! Note that now even the disk image names are all the same too and the system has to resort to appending numbers on the volume name to avoid naming conflicts.

So Apple, if you are going to keep putting out security updates for older platforms then let’s stop pretending there is only one OS X release out there and start naming updates appropriately! Please? Thanks!

P.S. I’ve submitted a bug and mirrored it at Open Radar, if you are a systems administrator who is also irked by this trend of needless naming minimalism I encourage you to file a bug report and see if we can turn this around!

Silverlight: the next plugin Apple will be blocking

Shhh… Silverlight’s been updated for Mac

So by shear accident, I was in Windows 7 via Boot Camp today. I decided to run updates and actually look at what was being updated. I noticed there was a new Silverlight update, 5.1.20125.0, speak of the devil, in my XProtect Plugin Checker post, not long ago, I speculate when Silverlight will be blocked by Apple because of a security update. Security bulletin MS13-022 explains the critical nature of this for Windows and Mac, if you want to see an MS engineer tell you it’s Priority 1 this month you can visit the Microsoft March 2013 security update page. You’ll need Silverlight to watch the video, but don’t worry it won’t give you prompt you to update. Neither does Netflix. Apparently Microsoft haven’t pulled the trigger to alert users with old Silverlight plugins! Are they waiting for this 14.9MB package to replicate around the world to all the Akamai distribution servers or something? I think it’s done now.

Whither Thou Goest Check for Updates (or Preferences for that matter)?

So I decided to double check my auto-update settings in Silverlight. Would you like to check your Silverlight Preferences? The easy way is to Control-Click/Right-Click on Silverlight content and select About Silverlight from the menu. But take a real world example: you are at a site that won’t load it’s Silverlight content because the caches need cleaning! (This really happened to someone I had to support remotely via email).

Let’s go spelunking!
Opening Silverlight Preferences the hard way:

Navigate to /Library/Internet Plug-Ins
Control-Click on Silverlight.plugin and Show Package Contents
Navigate into Contents/Resources
Double click Silverlight

Or type this in at Terminal:

open /Library/Internet\ Plug-Ins/Silverlight.plugin/Contents/Resources/Silverlight\

I ended up making a .command file to do this, zipped it up, and emailed it so the user could simply empty the Silverlight caches and get back to work (if this was for real work or Netflix I’m not sure…) but regardless, a Preference Pane would be kinda nice MS Silverlight dev folks! All it has to do, at bare minimum, is open this very same app inside the plugin bundle (so we don’t have to dig for it). That’s what the Oracle Java 7 prefPane does. I digress here’s my settings:


Yep that’s set…
OK so Microsoft doesn’t think this Priority 1 update needs updating yet on the Mac?

For fun, in the same folder you can run to see this:


Clicking Install now launches the URL: which will automatically start downloading the newest version of Silverlight.

Exploring the XProtect Factor

Now, I though to myself, if Microsoft doesn’t start getting people to update, I think I know what Apple’s gonna do… but they haven’t done it yet. So I did. I edited my XProtect.meta.plist and blocked Silverlight myself:


Just wedged it right in there with TextWrangler! Now, what happens when I visit a Silverlight page in Safari?

Blocked @ Netflix

Boom, blocked. Aha! This mechanism is quite extensible to whatever plugin Apple deems insecure. Interestingly though, this warning will appear only once in Safari.

Blocked Small

After that your Silverlight content will simply not load and you won’t be told why. The bundle name and version are set under the PreviouslyAnnouncedBlockedPlugins key in and that’s it. Clicking OK in a hurry without reading the message might leave you scratching your head, while repeatedly clicking reload at Netlflix.

Safari Warning XML

Taking a peek at my XProtectPluginChecker I see it’s able to compare the installed version to the values XProtect.meta.plist has. My script is working dynamically, as planned, yay! (I fixed a couple bugs the first few days after posting so re-download if you were an early bird user)

XProtectPluginChecker-silverlightBlockedSo while you may not be seeing this yet I have a strong feeling you will… and when you do XProtectPluginChecker will let you know.

System Administrator Bonus

Say, Mac SysAdmins, wanna disable Silverlight on all your deployed Macs right now? Why? Maybe you want to turn it off right away and worry about installing the update later? BTW this does not block the plugin in Firefox (they have their own mechanism), Safari only.

sudo /usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -x -c "add dict" /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/XProtect.meta.plist
sudo /usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -x -c "add string 5.1.20125.0" /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/XProtect.meta.plist

That’ll get your XProtect.meta.plist PluginBlacklist dictionary looking something like this (version vary between 10.6 and 10.7/10.8 machines):

XProtectXML Viola, your Silverlight don’t work no more. :] Now go update it!



XProtect Plugin Checker

Are you a system administrator or power user who needs a quick way to check if your Flash or Java plugins have been blocked by Apple? Like so:XProtectPluginChecker Menu 2

Then XProtectPluginChecker is the status menu app for you!

XProtect Plugin Checker iconClick to download.

Written in BASH, sprinkled with PlistBuddy/awk/sed-Fu with a dash of mdfind magic, and wrapped with Platypus, the aim is for XProtect Plugin Checker to be able to dynamically accommodate any additions Apple might make to the Plugin Blacklist, although only Flash and Java seem to be in their crosshairs right now, who knows? Silverlight might be next, given its lack of updates (going on 10 months).

A bonus idea for making this more useful is to make a launchd script that watches the XProtect plist file(s) then fires off the XProtectPluginChecker script when they change, emailing the results to you, because knowing is half the battle!

If you find this useful or if you have some hiccups with it, let me know. UPDATE: Now with comments enabled! :]

Also related, myXProtectStatus is a similar style menu status script that lists the malware threats Apple is blocking.

Apple’s New Epoch Time for WebComponentsLastUsed

The latest Java update for Lion 2012-003 ( which after 3 revisions is still called JavaForOSX-1.0 in Software Update – oh, Apple! But I digress…) will turn off Java if it hasn’t been used in 30 days (or so I hear). It accomplishes this by writing a value to the WebComponentsLastUsed in ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/

It used to be enough to have WebComponentsEnabled set to True, but now WebComponentsLastUsed is required or the unclickable “Plugin-Disabled” button will be shown in Safari’s lower right corner (it totally looks clickable yeah?)

If you work at a company that requires Java web components to be on for things like timesheets, making sure Java stays on helps to avoid getting help desk calls.

So I needed to figure out how this value was computed, it was too small to be the Unix epoch (seconds since January 1, 1970), so I did some sleuthing, some comparitive analysis (just to sound fancy), and figured out it is the number of seconds since January 1, 2001. To get this value you just need to get the Unix epoch and subtract the number of seconds since Jan 1, 2001.

Here’s the way to get this value in a BASH Terminal:

echo $(( $(date "+%s") - 978307200 ))

Toggling the check box in /Applications/Utilities/Java Preferences will reset the WebComponentsLastUsed value and you will find it very close to the value from Terminal.

Wasn’t that fun? The Der Flounder blog has a script using this method to turn on Java. He was a good sport to incorporate my code, too. He enlightened me with his UUID scripting code, so share and share alike, I say.

Bonus link for Apple’s other epoch time, for iTunes’ XML Play Date field: January 1, 1904 – that’s the first year of the last century with a leap year, so says Filemaker! ;)

OpenDNS does not prevent infection of Flashback

While reading the froth around Flashback I came upon this shameless bit of self promotion from OpenDNS: Worried about Mac malware? Just set up OpenDNS.

What, Me Worried?

It’s got some amazing claims:

"All Mac users should switch to OpenDNS now to prevent infection"

A lot of people have commented:
19 pingbacks from various regurgitators: FairerPlatform, Tech 3K, chicagogeek, News4iPhone, ZBlog!, Free Nulled Apps, Tech News, Tutto App, When’s the next Iphone out?,, iphone 4S issues, Apple Related,, IT Blogger Blog, Apple Stocks, iHelpBoard, and The Apple Lounge

One very enthusiastic supporter:

"We should change the world for better"

And then my comment:

Just asking...

It’s still awaiting moderation?! Whaaaaa?!

[sarcasm]Why you no like me Allison? Is my English no too good? Do I NOT WRITE IN ENOUGH CAPS?!?! Why you no want make world for better?! Why no share my important tip?[/sarcasm]

Update Java folks. Relying on a DNS company to block DNS queries is just dumb. How do they know what all the Command and Control domains are? Those things can change at whim and I wouldn’t make DNS lookups my first line of defense, it certainly isn’t preventative. If you don’t have your computer updated you can get compromised. Even if you do update, until Apple gets things patched quicker, even that’s not good enough, you need some protection, Sophos makes a good free product. Get it.

Also, if you think “I only go to good clean sites”. I’ll tell you, that you can never know. This site got hacked because of combination of a Dreamhost database compromise and  Wordpress vulnerabilities. That’s been taken care (otherwise you’d be redirected to or something like that — gawd, of all the hacks… — and the domain didn’t even work! ). But all it takes is some PHP/Wordpress compromise and your site could be serving up malware. So be safe, be vigilant, and don’t think that someone else is going to protect you because they don’t let your computer talk to strangers (yes, OpenDNS I’m talking to you.)



myXProtectStatus – A drop down status menulet for XProtect, showing date, version, and threats protected against. Written in bash, and wrapped with Platypus, it is informational only, so don’t ask me to add some menu item to do something, it just reports. However I did add the Command Line and GUI ways to update XProtect in the output, so it’s of some use for that. When run, it’ll reside in your menu bar and call a script inside itself each time it runs. Tuck it away somewhere, add it to your loginitems. Check it every once and a while…

Screenshot of myXProtectStatus:

Other notes: I pipe the output of the threat list though /usr/bin/uniq, because while Hell.RTS has three different signatures it retains the same name in each and it seemed redundant to list all of them out! So all recurring names will be reduced to one entry.

The menu bar icon: it’s an X with a grey picket fence around it, I made it tiny… then realized I need an icon for the App too rather than Platypus’ so I sized it up, it’s fugly, but you’ll never see it! :)

Bonus: When run as root, it will show the auto-update on/off status, which can only be determined on the command line by root.


Advanced Safe Downloads List Tips and Tricks

So I submitted a hint for getting info about the Safe Downloads protection list, then I made a widget, now delving deeper into Safe Downloads list and the command line

Let’s look at the BOM for the update:


What’s interesting is after installation /usr/libexec/MRT,, and delete themselves after they run?! This is odd, yes? From what it looks like MRT has a lot of pattern matching  code in it… Also notable is that in the postflight action loadMRT, the launchagent and daemon are unloaded and reloaded in the postflight actions, however the loadXProtectUpdater script does not do this. So the XProtectUpdater does not run again if you rerun the installer since launchctl will report it’s already loaded, so you’ll have to wait a day for it to check again and update as seen in (86400 seconds = 1 day).

If you want to manually force an update, you can run this command:
sudo /usr/libexec/XprotectUpdater
You must run as root or else it informs you:
XprotectUpdater[pids] Unable to write new signature meta plist

You can also just toggle the preference in the Security prefpane, this causes the launchd job to be unloaded an reloaded, however from an admin POV it’s nice to have a non-GUI way to do this. Also there seems to be a bug in the prefpane so values are not written after it is open for more than 30 seconds! Come on 10.6.8! (It feels like this was Lion stuff that’s getting shoe-horned into Snow Leopard a bit earlier than they expected )

Another interesting tidbit is the actual malware list that is squirreled away here:

If you attempt to use the defaults command to read it you are given this:
defaults[pids] Preference plist was NOT a dictionary.
defaults[pids] Domain /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/XProtect does not exist

It seems the Apple folks have done some creative things so while this is still valid XML it is not a defaults compatible plist. The values are dictionaries stored in an array at the top level. Is this protection against script-kiddies who’d use defaults to change values in the list? While the file is root owned, one must wonder if there are safeguards to check its checksum against a server to detect unauthorized changes to it? Since admin status is enough to escalate to root using sudo (and every initial user in OS X is an admin), combine this with the fact that installer runs as root when installing a pkg, and this is something to keep an eye on… (oh right my point being this thwarts a script to list detected threats, at least easily using defaults)

And some parting advice: Turn off Open Safe Downloads in Safari! It’s an oddly bad decision by Apple, its paralells to Windows’ AutoPlay/AutoRun give me goose bumps! I don’t want a dmg opening itself up and copying out it’s pkg payload into Downloads, then auto launching it! CRAZY BAD! Malware on a platinum platter, Apple couldn’t have made it easier!

Here’s the code for turning this off in Safari, it is a per user preference:
defaults write AutoOpenSafeDownloads -bool FALSE

And so concludes this expedition, hope you learned something, and can teach me something back in the process, thanks!

Safe Downloads List Info Widget

UPDATE: The AUTOUPDATE code only works as root and so is not useful in the Dashboard environment! This has been removed from the widget.

So I slapped together a widget for the Safe Downloads commands I post at OSXHints:

Safe Downloads Info Widget

Nothing glamorous just the facts and the following code is how it gets it’s values:

defaults read /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/XProtect.meta LastModification
defaults read /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/XProtect.meta Version

The auto updates status took a bit more massaging:

eval $(sudo defaults read /private/var/db/launchd.db/ | sed 's/ //g')
if [ ${Disabled:=0} -eq 0 ]; then
echo ON
echo OFF

All apologies to Dashboard coding perfectionists but the calls for the widget are synchronous, and reading up on Dashboard coding best practices, Apple says a shipping widget should only use asynchronous calls for info… oh well it works well enough for me! :) Perhaps I’ll go back and throw in extra lines of code for asynchronous handlers when I can, if my widget freezes up any other widgets you can simply restart Dashboard by killing to Dock process from Activity Monitor.

myXprotect Status – a drop down list of threats protected against for the menu bar