Homeland Security tells all computer users to disable Java 7 amid hacker threat

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is warning users to disable or uninstall Oracle Corps’ Java software on their computers because of a flaw that would allow hackers to install malicious software.

Java is used by hundreds of millions of Windows, Mac and Linux computers along with mobile devices, reported ZDNet.

It’s rare for a government agency to recommend users completely disable a software program because of a security threat. Typically warnings will recommend taking steps to reduce risk while manufactures work on a security update.

According to ZDNet, hackers have discovered a weakness in Java 7 security that could allow the installation of malicious software and malware on machines.

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These programs could increase the chance for identity theft, or force your computer to participate in a botnet — where a group of computers cede control to a hacker who uses them to carry out attacks against websites.

“We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem,” said the DHS’ Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) in a post on its Web site on Thursday evening. “This vulnerability is being attacked in the wild, and is reported to be incorporated into exploit kits. Exploit code for this vulnerability is also publicly available.”

DHS recommends Java users disable Java immediately to mitigate any damage.

Oracle declined comment Friday.

Java is used by programmers to write software using just one set of code. It runs on virtually any type of computer through Java programs called modules or plug-ins, that run Java software on top of browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox.  It is not the same as JavaScript, which is used to write the coding of websites.

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