Want to shield 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 been roundly criticized for being an open door of sorts to hackers. In a recent story, for example, Business Insider pointed to the 700,000 Apple computers infected earlier this year with the Flashback Trojan malware. All these computers were running out-of-date versions of add-ons that let their web browsers run Java. An effective way, then, to protect your computer? Oremus says it is all about disabling Java.
In an earlier version of Java, there was a security flaw that hackers took advantage of. Thankfully, Oracle quickly honed in on the issue and fixed it in a recent version, but not before the damage was done. The residual problem is that if you still have an old version you could be vulnerable. The best option is to disable it. This is not a big deal because most websites do not require Java anymore to work.
Turning off Java
Turning off Java requires different steps depending upon what web browser you use. 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.