Worried about malware? Turn off Java

You almost should feel sorry for the makers of Java. The applet is continually cited as an open invitation to hackers, one that permits cyber criminals easy access to your computer and personal data. But really, Java’s time has mostly gone. This is why Slate writer Will Oremus has this recommendation: Disable Java on your computer. Remember, just last year the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about security holes linked to Java. If you want to keep your computer safe, you’ll listen to Oremus’ advice.

No Patching

How ardently does Oremus feel about Java’s security weaknesses? He advises that computer users not even bother with the security patches that Java has released. He recommends instead that users completely disable Java. This actually makes sense. Most computer users seldom use Java. Only a small number of Web sites are still fueled by Java applets. It’s important to note, too, that if you disable Java, you aren’t actually eliminating it from your computer. If you need it, then, you can temporarily enable it again.

Vulnerable Java

The most recent Java exploit let hackers use Java applications to control the computers of users who visited certain hacked Web sites. The current owner of Java, Oracle, reacted quickly to this attack, putting out an emergency update that patched the current Java security hole. That doesn’t mean, though, that Java is now safe to use. Slate’s Oremus states that even with the patch, Java is still dotted with weaknesses that any savvy hacker could target.

Disable

If you’re ready to disable Java, it’s a uncomplicated task, depending on the Web browser that you use. If you’re a Chrome user, type the phrase “Chrome://Plugins” in your browser’s address bar. Check the “Disable” button next to any Java plug-ins that you see. If you are using Safari, click on the “Safari” option in your main menu bar. Then click “Preferences.” Select the “Security” tab. You’ll see a checked button next to the option “Enable Java.” Uncheck that box to turn Java off. In Firefox, select “Tools” from your main menu. Click “Add-ons,” and then select the “Disable” button next to any Java plug-ins that you see. To no one’s surprise, Internet Explorer boasts the trickiest Java disabling process. For more information concerning how to do this — there are too many steps to list here — visit http://www.java.com/en/download/help/disable_browser.xml


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