12 - JavaSeveral Java security vulnerabilities surfaced earlier this month that allow attackers to access computers visiting compromised or malicious websites. If you’re still reading, allow me to translate the previous sentence to English: if you visit a website that has code to take advantage of the Java security hole, then the code would install malware on your computer. If you’ve ever asked yourself “how did that virus/malware get on my computer?” this is one answer.

What is Java?

Though it may conjure an image of a steaming cup of coffee, Java is a programming language used to create applications that can run on many kinds of devices. These devices include both Windows and Mac based computers, phones, tablets, even DVD players and in some cases, vehicles.  Web browsers use a Java plug-in to run Java code on websites and it’s this plug-in that the Department of Homeland Security has advised everyone to disable.

Because of the recent notoriety, it has earned this definition: Java – Just Another Vulnerability Announced.

What to Do

There are several options to consider, depending on your situation:

  1. Uninstall Java
    It’s reported that about 0.2% of all the website in the world use Java; chances are, you won’t miss it if you uninstall it. Instructions to uninstall Java can be found here: http://www.java.com/en/download/uninstall.jsp
  2. Disable Java
    Maybe you have a piece of software on your computer that requires you keep Java. In that case, you can disable Java in your web browsers.
  3. Use a separate, dedicated browser for Java
    If you use websites that require Java, you can install a separate browser, such as Chrome or Firefox to use specifically for those websites. This will allow you to disable Java in your main browser, where you do the majority of your web surfing.
  4. Keep Java secure as possible
    If it’s not possible to throw out Java, set Java to check for updates on a daily basis instead of on a monthly basis. Instructions for doing that are in the “Update Java Often” section here: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/top-6-install-java-software/