You may not know this but one of the easiest ways to guard your computers from hackers is to turn off Java, software that runs interactive functions on web pages. Java has developed the reputation for being a backdoor for hackers to get into your system, for example Business Insider recently pointed to the 700,000 Apple computers that were infected earlier this year with the Flashback Trojan malware. These computers were all running an out-of-date add on that enabled their browser to run Java.

Security flaw

Hackers recently identified a defect in Oracle’s Java software that allowed these cyber criminals to break into users’ computers and install malware. At the time, the threat was considered a “zero-day” one, meaning a threat that uses a vulnerability that wasn’t formerly known and for which no fix can be acquired. Since the security hole was discovered, Oracle introduced a new version of Java that the developer says fixes the vulnerability. But the fact remains: Hackers frequently use Java to break into users’ computers. Turning it off, then, makes the most sense, particularly since Java is no longer essential for the vast majority of websites.

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

Here’s a warning, though: Java and Javascript aren’t the same thing. If you accidentally disable Javascript on your computer, you won’t do anything to protect yourself from hackers. However, you might make it so that the websites you visit no longer work properly.

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