Market Overview

Chinese Hackers Exploit Apple Weakness, Attack Mac Users

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), once thought of as the sturdiest and most reliable manufacturer in the PC industry, has been attacked by Chinese hackers.

According to a Reuters exclusive, the hackers also targeted Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) but were unsuccessful in their attempts to steal data from Apple. They were equally unsuccessful in their attempts to retrieve user data from Facebook.

Even so, Apple admitted that a "small number" of its employees' Mac computers were breached. The company plans to respond to the attack by releasing an updated Java malware removal tool.

The Loop has provided additional insight on the hacking, including a statement from Apple:

"Apple has identified malware which infected a limited number of Mac systems through a vulnerability in the Java plug-in for browsers," Apple told The Loop. "The malware was employed in an attack against Apple and other companies, and was spread through a website for software developers. We identified a small number of systems within Apple that were infected and isolated them from our network. There is no evidence that any data left Apple. We are working closely with law enforcement to find the source of the malware.

"Since OS X Lion, Macs have shipped without Java installed, and as an added security measure OS X automatically disables Java if it has been unused for 35 days. To protect Mac users that have installed Java, today we are releasing an updated Java malware removal tool that will check Mac systems and remove this malware if found."

While this hack may give Apple a painful black eye, it could be a greater problem for Java's developer, Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL). Java has long been considered one of the weakest development systems available, particularly in the area of security. This attack -- coupled with Apple's eye-opening response -- hint at a rough future for Java and its developer.

Follow me @LouisBedigianBZ

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