Java gives criminals an entryway to your computer. Disable it right now.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Turn off Java for a safer Windows and Mac computer

April 8, 2012

Special report

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, The Post-Standard

Apple recently updated its Java software for Macs after hundreds of thousands of Mac computers became infected with robotic attackers -- called "bots" -- that took over the Macs because of a flaw in Java.

If you have a Mac, you must update Java. Go to the Apple menu (the leftmost menu at the top of your screen) and click Software Update. But don't stop there.

Whether you have a Mac or a Windows PC, my advice is to go one step further. Java is not used much any more -- from what I can tell,, it's only used for a few online games and web-based calculators -- and my advice is to disable it. I'll tell you how shortly.

Java was invented decades ago as a way to get computers of all kinds to run software. The same Java app ("application") will run on a Windows PC, a Linux PC or a Mac.

But Java also gives criminal gangs a tool to take over PCs and Macs and extract financial information, passwords and email lists while you use your computer totally unaware of the breakin. It's even possible that the only current use for Java in most computers is to allow the bad guys to steal from you.

(A quick note: Java is not the same as Javascript. It's not related at all. Javascript is not what I am referring to. If you disable it, some webpage menus might not work properly.)

To disable Java, do this:

In Internet Explorer:

Open the Tools menu or choose the Tools dropdown menu in the upper right. Click Internet Options. Click Programs and then click Manage Add-ons. Highlight Java Plug-in. Click Disable. (The "disable") setting might be in a different location in different versions of IE.) Then click OK twice.

In Safari:

Go to the Preferences menu, then Security, and uncheck "Enable Java."

In Chrome:

Type chrome://plugins in Chrome's address bar. A list of available plug-ins will appear. Find Java and click the "Disable" link beneath it.

In Firefox:

Go to the Tools menu and choose Add-ons. Then select the Plug-ins Tab, and click the "Disable" button next to Java Plug-in.