Just a few short years ago, Java was one of the most popular media used for games, webpage scripts etc. It was very straightforward to use and it had the ability to create useful scripts that worked well on almost all websites. If you remember, security experts found some really nasty flaws in the code. Instead of actually fixing the code, Oracle decided to just block almost all java code whether it was a problem or not as a workaround. This created a huge mess for many developers who were using Java on their WebPages.
Since that day, most developers have completely gotten away from using Java and instead have switched to Flash and HTML 5 scripts instead. The truth be told, with the exception of still blocking most scripts, Java really has not changed much. There are very few places that actually still use it. One of the exceptions is Pogo. If you do not use online games or have any other need for Java, it can be either disabled or completely removed from your system. At the very least, the security should be set to the highest level. You can easily remove the program using Programs and Features. It will remove just like any other program. If you wish, you can heighten your security settings for Java by going to your Control Panel and clicking on the Java link. Once open, navigate to the Security tab.
If I have Java installed should I update it? That answer is a big YES but there are exceptions! Java will normally tell you there is an update when you start your computer. This is the preferred way of updating the software. When updating, be sure to uncheck any added software that Oracle tries to send your way.
You should NEVER update either Java or Flash through a browser prompt! Doing so is a sure way to get an infection. Malware that already exists on your machine often generates these prompst. If you are getting prompts to update these on a regular basis while surfing the web, get your system cleaned as you likely are infected. Like I said, Java and Flash will only offer official updates when you first start your computer. If they are browser based they are likely fake updates that will infect your computer, if it is not already infected.
So how do I protect myself from Java exploits? Well, like all infections common sense plays a big role. Most exploits will come in your system through either an infected site or e-mail. Besides common sense, completely removing Java is probably the best defense. It is unlikely you will ever miss it.
Flash is probably the most popular script now in use for games, website features etc. Is Flash safe to use? Well, like all scripts it still has some vulnerabilities but nothing like Java. It is regularly patched and security flaws are addressed instead of just masked over. It is much safer then Java and it necessary to have on your computer. If you disable Flash you will be missing out on a lot of what the Internet has to offer.
As with any script, be careful where you go, keep your security up to date and do not click on e-mail attachments unless you are 100% sure of where they came from. The same goes for Silverlight. Although not widely used, some online sites such as Netflix require it for proper operation.
In short, ditch the Java and be sure you have the latest versions of both Silverlight and Flash. Together you will be able to open over 99% of all the content on the web. Watch your websites and you should be just fine!
By, Tech Joe