How Important Is It To Update Java?
Java has certainly received its share of fanfare over the past few months. When we speak of Java, we are not talking about your morning cup of coffee. Java is a common protocol on almost every Windows computer and is an essential element for many websites and games. A security flaw in the software could allow a hacker to infect your system and under the right circumstances, gain control of a machine. The key phrase here is “under the right circumstances”. Like most security holes, and they are a dime a dozen, all the ingredients must come together to get all the bad effects.
Oracle, the company that produces Java, was at first slow in getting the required updates out there to fix the flaw but as of late, the updates have been rolling in and if you use the default security settings, you will have good protection from an unwanted bug. Although Java has been given a primary focus as of late, security flaws also exist in Adobe Reader, Flash and other software as well.
I believe that many times when we get infected it is due to our own actions when we go to risky or unknown sites, especially those related to shopping or games. Often times this will happen when we are looking for software to protect our very own machines! Many antivirus sites are actually fake but can look a lot like the real thing. Care must be taken when searching for antivirus software to be sure you are on an official site.
The new Java update includes a feature that allows us to run or not run an application. When you are on a known good site, if you put a tic next to the box that says “not to ask about this page again”, your computer will remember the option and not bug you every time you open that page. If you are on a free game site or an unknown shopping site, it is probably best to click the NO button to not allow Java to run.
By careful surfing and maintaining a good antivirus program, I have been able to remain virus free for the last 8 years. That is with using Java and all the other plug-ins including Flash on my systems. You can do the same as well! Just be sure to maintain an up to date antivirus tool, update all your plug-ins including Java and Flash and have a once a year clean up performed by an experienced tech to be sure all is go.
It is important to remember that most virus infections require some interaction on your part to get into your machine. If, while browsing, you get an unusual request for a download or to start a program, check to be sure it is something you are actually requesting before clicking yes to the application. Once you allow it, the virus will take its toll on your system and you will most likely need to consult with a professional to be sure it is properly removed.
In short, go ahead and have that cup of Java in the morning while you play your favorite games or view your favorite websites using the plug-in by the same name. Just be sure not to venture too far off the beaten path while doing so. Getting a hot cup of Java in a remote location is not always easy.
Author: Joe Zelenak, Staff Writer/Technician for Ring a Geek.