Worried about malware? Turn off Java

You almost have to feel sorry for the makers of Java. The applet is constantly cited as an open door to hackers, one that allows cyber criminals easy access to your computer and private info. But really, Java’s time has mainly gone. That is why Slate writer Will Oremus has this recommendation: Disable Java on your computer. Don’t forget, last year the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning regarding security holes associated with Java. If you wish to keep your computer safe, you’ll follow Oremus’ advice.

No Patching

How strongly does Oremus feel about Java’s security weaknesses? He suggests that computer users not even bother with all the security patches that Java has issued. He advises instead that users totally disable Java. This actually is sensible. Most computer users rarely use Java. Only a few Web sites are still fueled by Java applets. It’s important to note, too, that when you disable Java, you aren’t actually eliminating it from your computer. Should you need it, then, it is easy to temporarily enable it again.

Java’s Problems

The latest 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, reacted swiftly to this attack, putting out an emergency update that patched the Java security hole. That does not mean, though, that Java is now safe to use. Slate’s Oremus states that despite having the patch, Java is still sprinkled with weaknesses that any clever hacker could target.


If you’re ready to disable Java, it’s a relatively easy task, depending on the Web browser that you use. If you’re a Chrome user, type the phrase “Chrome://Plugins” in your browser’s address bar. Check the “Disable” button next to any Java plug-ins that you see. If you are using Safari, click on the “Safari” option in your main menu bar. Then click “Preferences.” Select the “Security” tab. You’ll see a checked button next to the option “Enable Java.” Uncheck that box to turn Java off. In Firefox, select “Tools” in the main menu. Click “Add-ons,” and then select the “Disable” button next to any Java plug-ins that you see. To no one’s surprise, Internet Explorer boasts the trickiest Java disabling procedure. For more information concerning how to do this — there are too many steps to list here — visit http://www.java.com/en/download/help/disable_browser.xml