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Protect Yourself From Hackers: Disable Java

Business Technology | November 14, 2012

Want to protect your computer from hackers? Slate technology writer Will Oremus has one idea: disable Java. If you do not know, Java is software that runs interactive functions on some webpages. 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 corrupted 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. The simplest way, then, to protect your computer? Oremus says it is all about disabling Java.

Security flaw

There is a flaw in Oracle’s Java software that hackers have taken advantage of. This allows them to install malware. Quickly after the weakness was discovered, Oracle introduced a new version of Java that fixed it. However, if an individual has not updated their version of Java they may not know that their computer is prone to hackers. Moreover, there may be other weaknesses in Java that Oracle has not found, so the best way to make sure you are protected is to disable it. Most websites do not require Java any way.

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.

Don’t touch JavaScript

Keep in mind that Java and Javascript are not that same thing. Turning off Javascript won’t protect you from hackers. Since many websites use Javascript, disabling it may ensure some sites don’t run properly.

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