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Avoid getting burned by Java

Molly Wood Aug 31, 2012

Computer security experts are ringing alarms about Java. Nope. Not the coffee. Java the piece of software that you probably have on your computer.

Anup Ghosh heads the security company Invincea. He says, “Just about everybody uses Java. When you get your computer, it typically is installed with your computer. It runs on Linux, Windows, Mac OS, so it almost doesn’t matter which kind of computer you have.”

And it turns out, Java has some pretty major security flaws that hackers can and are exploiting. Says Ghosh, “They’re dropping a backdoor onto your machine that allows them to do command and control of your machine and do things like, if you’re in a company, they’ll look for intellectual property, and they’ll steal that. They’ll use it as a beachhead on a corporate network to find other machines on the network and capture those other machines. In cybercrime, they’ll use Java exploits in order to grab your banking credentials.”

Yesterday Oracle, the company that makes Java, released a patch for the software.

For more on how to update your computer, check Oracle’s website and their blog.

And now to the future.

“Back to the Future” clip: Roads. Where we’re going we don’t need roads.

OK. We might still need roads. But, there are changes coming. Look no further than the IFA trade show, a consumer electronics show in Berlin going on now.

“It’s definitely a little glimpse of the future, ” says Stephen Shankland, from CNET. He says that future includes really expensive TVs with really complicated names. “The gigantic Sony 4k TV, the XBR-84X900. This is a 4k TV, so 4k is a higher-resolution TV. This particular screen has four times the number of pixels as a regular HD-TV. It’s also got 3D built in. It’s got an 84-inch diagonal, so it’s mammoth. It’s probably going to cost tens of thousands of dollars, so if you want it, you should start saving now, probably.”

Shankland says there’s also a camera that acts like a smartphone, so you can upload your pictures automatically. There are new tablets, new smartphones, and: “There’s a big change going on right now which is the shift to touch screens. So these are laptops you can reach out and touch the screen the way you would with a tablet. And because of that fairly significant design change, there are a lot of interesting products I saw here at the show that are called “convertibles.” These are devices that flip into a laptop in one configuration, or a tablet in another configuration. So the screen might flip around some sort of complicated hinge mechanism. It adds a lot of expense to the product, but it’s also a pretty radical transformation potentially of how we use PCs.”

One company not unveiling new products at the show, Apple. It’s got its own announcement coming in September. But it’s still a presence. Says Shankland: “Apple is a very, very influential company. It doesn’t show up at other trade shows, it only goes to its own events. But there are a lot of companies trying to get ahead of Apple, come up with something that’s more impressive, better integrated, so it’s kind of the unseen power here at the show.”

But he says the Apple’s patent win over Samsung doesn’t seem to have dampened the gee-whiz, check-out-this cool new-thing mood that every good future requires.

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