Turn off Java to protect your computer

March 25, 2013
Want to protect your computer from hackers? Slate writer Will Oremus has some straightforward advice: Disable Java. The problem? Hackers have had an easy time of late finding holes in Java’s browser plug-in. Just last year, you’ll remember, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about Java’s security issues. This February, another Java weakness left what Oremus says is hundreds of millions of Internet users at risk from massive malware attacks. So Oremus’ advice is sound: If you want to keep personal data and files safe, you need to disable Java.


Skip the patch

Java, of course, has released new security patches to mend its latest security flaws. But Oremus recommends that computer users ignore this patch. The chances are high that hackers will simply find another vulnerability to take advantage of Java. Oremus instead advises that users disable the application on their machines. The fact is, the number of Web sites powered by Java applets is shrinking every day. If you really need Java to view a site, you can temporarily enable it until you’re done with that site.


Vulnerable Java

The issue with Java is that it is very susceptible to hackers. In the latest attack, hackers used holes in Java to control the machines of Internet surfers who visited hacked Web sites. The company that owns Java, Oracle, wasted little time in putting out a fresh security patch to fix this problem. Unfortunately, Java has a history of security leaks, and there’s no reason to believe that hackers won’t locate new ones to take advantage of.



The good news is it is not hard to disable Java. If you are using Firefox, choose “Tools” from the main menu. Next, click “Add-ons” then hit the “Disable” button next to any Java plug-ins. For Chrome, type “Chrome://Plugins” in your browser’s address bar. Then click on the “Disable” button below any Java plug-ins. In Safari, click “Safari” in the main menu bar. Next, click “Preferences,” then select the “Security” tab. Uncheck the button next to “Enable Java.” The most difficult disable comes with Internet Explorer. You’ll need to first call up the Java Control Panel, a task that will require different steps according to which operating system you use. For more information concerning how to disable Java on Internet Explorer, visit this link:

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