Want to protect your computer from hackers? Slate technology writer Will Oremus has one suggestion: disable Java.
If you don’t know, Java is software that runs interactive functions on some web pages. The software has also been roundly criticized for being an open door of sorts to hackers. In a recent story, for instance, Business Insider pointed to the 700,000 Apple computers infected 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’s all about disabling Java.
Hackers recently found a flaw in Oracle’s Java software that allowed these cyber criminals to break into users’ computers and install malware. At the time, the threat was considered a “zero-day” one, meaning a threat that exploits a vulnerability that wasn’t previously known and for which no fix is available.
Since the security hole was discovered, Oracle released a new version of Java that the developer says fixes the vulnerability.
But the fact remains: Hackers frequently use Java to break into users’ computers. Turning it off, then, makes the most sense, especially since Java is no longer needed for the vast majority of websites.
Turning off Java
Turning off Java requires different steps depending upon what web browser you use.
For instance, as Oremus writes, 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.