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 private info. But really, Java’s time has mostly gone. That is why Slate writer Will Oremus has this advice: Disable Java on your computer. Remember, last year the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning concerning security holes related to Java. If you wish to keep your computer safe, you’ll heed Oremus’ advice.
How strongly does Oremus feel about Java’s security weaknesses? He advises that computer users not even bother with all the security patches that Java has issued. He advises as an alternative that users completely disable Java. This actually makes sense. Most computer users rarely use Java. Only a few Web sites are still fueled by Java applets. It’s important to note, too, that when you disable Java, you’re not actually eliminating it from your computer. If you need it, then, you can always temporarily enable it again.
The dangers of Java are real enough that you should take Oremus’ advice. The latest Java weaknesses allowed hackers to use Java software to take control over the computers of users who visited hacked Web sites. Oracle, which now owns Java, put out a quick emergency update to patch Java’s security holes. Unfortunately, despite having the patch, there are still Java weaknesses that criminals can exploit.
Luckily for us, it doesn’t take much computer savvy to disable Java, even though the steps vary based on your Web browser. For Firefox, choose “Tools” from the browser’s main menu. Then click “Add-ons” and check the “Disable” button beside the listed Java plug-ins. In Safari, click “Safari” on your browser’s main menu. Click “Preferences” prior to selecting the “Security” tab. Here you’ll see a button checked next to “Enable Java.” Uncheck it. With Chrome, type or copy “Chrome://Plugins” in the address bar. When Java plug-ins appear, click the “Disable” buttons beside them. It’s more difficult to turn off Java when you’re using Internet Explorer. The easiest method to learn how is to visit http://www.java.com/en/download/help/disable_browser.xml