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Computers, Phones & Internet / Help with this STUPID computer!

URL:  http://boards.fool.com/let-me-see-if-i-can-translate-mmrmmmhrnnmmhrs-30295126.aspx

Subject:  Re: Yet another Java flaw Date:  10/2/2012  12:48 PM
Author:  ptheland Number:  182036 of 189638

Let me see if I can translate mmrmmmhrnnmmhr's response. (Sorry, I can never remember the right number of letters in his/her username.) :-)

Java is a programming language. What makes it handy for web site designers is that the user has to install a program on their computer that handles all of the details of making the program run on any specific kind of computer. It's a program that runs other programs.

So all the web guy has to do is write the program to do what they want it to do. They don't have to worry about all of the differences between Windows and Macs and UNIX users. That's handled by the Java piece the user has to install.

You might be able to see the problem here. If you let a program run on your computer, you're giving that program access to your computer. And with Java, you're giving access to some random web site designer to do an awful lot of things on your computer.

One of the bad guys favorite things to do is to create errors. (That would be something like trying to divide by zero.) Programmers generally are pretty good at handling errors, but they're not perfect. So the bad guys poke around a lot until they find some kind of error that isn't handled correctly. That can make the computer do unexpected things. Those baddies find out what that unexpected thing is and then take advantage of it to get more access to your computer than you think you gave them.

Often, they'll take advantage of that additional access to install another program on your computer without your permission. That stuff is malware. It generally does bad things. At best, it just makes your computer run slower. At worst, it steals various pieces of information and sends them on to the baddies, who figure out a way to convert that information into money.

And that's my translation of the problem with Java. It's not that Java is a badly written program. On the contrary, it's fairly well-written. The problem is that by its very nature it creates security holes. And those holes are difficult to impossible to close. The only real way to close the security holes is to get rid of Java completely. That means you might not be able to do some things on some web sites. But that's the price to pay for eliminating this particular security threat.

--Peter
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