Want to shield your computer from hackers? Slate technology writer Will Oremus has one recommendation: disable Java. If you do not know, Java is software that runs interactive functions on some web pages. The software has been roundly criticized for being an open door of sorts to hackers. In a recent story, for example, Business Insider pointed to the 700,000 Apple computers attacked earlier this year with the Flashback Trojan malware. All of these computers were running out-of-date versions of add-ons that let their web browsers run Java. The best way, then, to protect your computer? Oremus says it is all about disabling Java.
There is a flaw in Oracle’s Java software that hackers have taken advantage of. This permits them to install malware. Quickly after the weakness was discovered, Oracle released a new version of Java that fixed it. However, if an individual has not updated their version of Java they may not be aware that their computer is prone to hackers. Furthermore, there may be other weaknesses in Java that Oracle has not found, so the best way to ensure you are protected is to disable it. Most websites do not require Java any way.
Turning off Java
Turning off Java requires different steps depending upon what web browser you use. In Firefox users must first select “tools” from their browser’s main menu. They should then click “add-ons” and the disable buttons next to any Java plug-ins.
Safari users must first click “Safari” in the main menu bar and then “Preferences.” Once they’ve done this, they can select the “security” tab and make sure that the button next to “enable Java” is not checked.
Google Chrome users need to type “Chrome://Plugins” in their browser’s address bar. They can then click the “disable” button listed below any Java plug-ins.