Security Flaw In Java Makes Computer Users Vulnerable

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

Chances are if you have a computer, you have Java.

"Java can run everywhere," Michigan State University Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Richard Enbody said. "It can run on PCs, it can run on Macs, it can run on Linux, it can run on everything. So, in that sense everybody's vulnerable."

Hackers have taken advantage of a bug in the program, and in a rare move, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is urging everyone to disable the software. The government said it's the only thing that could prevent the bad guys from getting your information, even when you visit trusted websites.

"They will have corrupted one of the ads in the windows, if you go to certain pages, going to that page will put bad stuff on your computer without you doing anything," Enbody said.

It's easy to disable Java on any computer, it will just differ a little bit depending on what browser you're using. Most steps take place in the "Preferences" or "Tools" menus. Experts say disabling Java is especially important for small businesses.

"They can go through a million bucks of inventory in a year, and you just redirect some of those bills, and you're talking about real money pretty fast," Enbody said.

But any size bank account or even 401-K is at risk. Basically, if it has a password, they want the information. So, turning off Java is a small price to pay.

"Most people probably won't even notice they turned off Java," Enbody said. "The most important thing is always make sure your software is on automatic updates."

There is no real fix to the security problem right now other than disabling the program.

Eventually the company will come out with an update, but there's no telling how long it will take.


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