FOX19 Investigates: Why hackers love Java (on your computer)

Both Macs and PCs are vulnerable if they use Java
Both Macs and PCs are vulnerable if they use Java
Dave Hatter, Libertas Technologies
Dave Hatter, Libertas Technologies

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Most of us don't like to even think about what makes our computer run smoothly. But a government warning about security flaws in Java is changing that.

Java is both a computer programming language and a platform, making everything from software to Blue-ray discs to smartphones to smart TVs work properly. The problem is, according to experts, there are openings in Java which could allow a hacker to gain control of your device.

"From my understanding, there is almost nothing you could not do once you go over this 'wall' and get into someone's PC through this," said Dave Hatter, who owns Libertas Technologies.

The security danger is so great that the Department of Homeland Security recommended disabling Java in an advisory posted yesterday afternoon. The initial recommendation was posted last week.

In order for a hacker to successfully get into your computer through the Java openings, Hatter says you first have to be lured to a fake website set-up by the hacker. So the first step to preventing yourself from becoming a victim is not clicking on links to strange looking websites sent to you in e-mail, Facebook messages, etc.

If you do you could literally lose control of your device and turn over all the information that's on there to the hacker.

"So as a potential hacker, if I could lure you to a website where I can take control of the Java instance on your computer, I could potentially go out and say, 'Alright, I want to find are there any Quicken files on this computer? Yes? Alright, send me those files.'"

However, you might not notice it happening because Hatter says it would likely happen "surreptitiously behind-the-scenes."

Hatter is not convinced trying to disable Java is a good idea. After all, it could interfere with some of your programs working properly. But if you do want to disable Java, there is a pretty simple explanation for how to do it on Java's website.

Parent company Oracle has released a security patch. However, Hatter says security issues with Java still remain and Homeland Security is still recommending Java be disabled.

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