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Hackers target netizens using Java

By Kaitlin Loukides
Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:05:55 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 15 2013 09:58:26 PM CST

Hackers target netizens using Java.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

The United States Department of Homeland Security is urging people to be careful if they have they are running the computer programming script commonly known as Java.

Computer security experts acknowledge Java is especially susceptible to hackers who have been using the program in order to break into computers, giving them viruses and even stealing personal information.

One Idaho State University's professor and director of the Infomatics department has developed ways to stop these hackers from breaking into high-profile systems.

“Here are people in Mumbai and New Delhi who are playing with us,” Professor Corey Schou said.

In the past, Schou has worked closely with a team in Washington, D.C., helping to secure computer systems in the White House. He was later presented international awards for his services and forward-thinking leadership in his field by the king of Saudi Arabia.

By “playing with us,” Schou really means “trying to hack into our computer system while we watch.”

And that is exactly what he did.

In front of Schou sat a massive computer screen which opened-up as map of the Earth. Jetting out from the ISU location were red, yellow, and green lines which traced back to various other locations in the world. Those colored lines represented people currently attempting to hack into the ISU computer system sitting before us, with each color corresponding to the threat level.

Schou said these hackers will go through Java in order to worm their way into your computer since Java runs on almost every single Internet browser most commonly used such as: Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc.

He explains these viruses hackers are leaving spread just as easily in the virtual realm as it is for people to contract the common cold.

“You come into contact with someone who has the flu, they give you the virus, the virus attacks your cells, and then all of a sudden your cells start producing viruses you can give to someone else,” Schou said.

19-year old Cade Kamachi is just one of the 20 most brilliant graduate students who is working with Schou to figure out the world of computer security. He said a hacker is not always someone who we imagine sits in a dark room and cracks codes all day long in order to break the security system.

Instead, Kamachi said most people will send you e-mails through the software, goading you for your personal information.

“It's the easiest way for them to do so,” Kamachi said. “They'll find your username and your password and then they don't have to break down the front door. They just use the keys you gave them and then they walk right in.”

Many of the students who were once in the same program as Kamachi graduated and went on to work for high-intelligence positions in places such as the Pentagon and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Kamachi and Schou urge people to protect themselves by not opening any e-mails from people they do not know, or download any software they are not familiar with.

For the time being, uninstalling Java completely might be the only viable solution.

However, since most software programs require Java in order to run, deinstalling it can be problematic for those who wish to run videos or even use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Schou said until Oracle finally creates a program script safe enough to use, he will just have to live without it for now.

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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