Some advice from Slate: It’s time to disable Java

How susceptible is Java to hackers? A year ago, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning to computer users about the security holes linked to the applet. Not to mention earlier this year, Java security holes left hundreds of millions of Internet users susceptible to serious malware attacks. It’s no surprise, then, that Slate writer Will Oremus is advising computer users everywhere to disable Java on their machines. If you would like to protect yourself from cyber attacks, you’ll follow Oremus’ advice.

No Patching

Oremus feels so passionately about it, he advises computer users to not worry about patches to cover up Java’s weaknesses. Instead, he proposes that users disable the program. Why? Because most of us hardly ever use it. Relatively few Web sites today are powered by Java applets. And when you disable Java, you aren’t erasing it from your computer. You’re just keeping it quiet. Oremus recommends that if you need Java to view certain key Web sites to keep Java enabled in a secondary Web browser that you only use when you need to access a Java-controlled site.

A vulnerable program

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

The disabling process

The good news is it is easy to disable Java. If you use Firefox, choose “Tools” from the main menu. Next, click “Add-ons” then click the “Disable” button next to any Java plug-ins. For Chrome, type “Chrome://Plugins” in your browser’s address bar. Then click 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 will have to first call up the Java Control Panel, an undertaking that will require different steps according to which operating system you are using. For more information regarding how to disable Java on Internet Explorer, visit this link: http://www.java.com/en/download/help/disable_browser.xml


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