Many of the attacks on a computer system involves exploiting weaknesses in installed software. Everything from the operating system, Web browsers, office software, and software that just connects to the Internet, may have weaknesses that hackers can exploit to install malicious software. Most of the time malicious software that targets a particular application exploit is limited to a particular type of computer, such as Windows or Apple. This is why it is always important to ensure you keep the applications installed on your computer updated with the latest patches.
There is one piece of software that is exploited on a regular basis, and the exploits aren’t limited to a particular system. This software is designed to work on many different systems, so it is an extremely easy target for hackers. The software is Java.
Why is Java a Security Problem?
The biggest security issue with Java, as I mentioned above, is that it is system-independent. Java can be installed on everything from Windows, Apple to Unix systems. Java is also used on hardware devices such as HDTVs and blu-ray players. Of course, the biggest security issue is when Java is installed on a computer system.
The fact that Java can be run on many different systems means that someone can develop a single piece of malicious software that can be executed on any system. They don’t need to develop separate applications, since as long as Java is installed, their application will run.
Another security issue is that fact that Java is a complex language. This complexity has added to the number of security vulnerabilities, as it is with any complex application. While Oracle releases new versions and patches, they aren’t nearly as quick to release the updates to match the number of exploits.
How to Protect Your System
The best defense for protecting your system from hackers exploiting Java is to simply uninstall Java from your system. Most people probably don’t need Java installed, so removing the software won’t have any impact on you using your computer.
For those that need to use Java because of a particular application, then you there are a few things you can do to mitigate any issues that you can experience.
Keep Java Updated
Java updates are released on a regular basis, so it is important to ensure you install all the latest updates. Most of the updates are released to fix security issues that have been found.
The latest Windows Java versions now provide automatic updates, so you can click the Java icon in the Control Panel and verify you are at the latest version of Java.
Java on Apple Mac computers are updated by Apple since Apple distributes its own release of Java on their systems. Java on a Mac computer is updated when the OS is updated, so as long as you update the OS, Java should be updated as well.
Disable the Browser Plugin
Besides keeping Java updated, you should also disable the Java plugin from all Web browsers you have installed on your system. This plugin provides a way for hackers to access Java on your system just by you visiting a Web site with malicious code. Very few Web sites use Java anymore, so disabling the plugin won’t impact viewing Web sites.
The newest version of Java allows you to disable the Java plugin. For older versions, there are many resources online that explain how you can disable the plugin from various Web browsers.
Java is probably the most exploited software that is installed on many systems. The fact that it can run on many different systems makes it an easy target for hackers. The best advice is that if you don’t need Java installed, uninstall it.