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Java Security

Is there ever a time when I should turn off Java when visiting certain Web sites? I’ve been hearing about some script errors lately and I want to make sure I’m not putting myself at risk when using Java.

This is an excellent question and it’s definitely a topic we haven’t covered in awhile, so I’m so glad you asked! We have explained the basics of Java and JavaScript in other tips in the past, but we haven’t really gotten into the whole security issue with them, so that’s what we will go over today! If you constantly have your Java turned on, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to this. Even if you don’t use Java that much, keep reading. It could help you out in some way!

First, I want to make sure everyone knows what Java and JavaScript is, since I will be mentioning those two terms frequently in this tip. Basically, Java is a platform development that is used to download scripts on Web pages. If you visit a site that has a lot of animation on it, that is Java working at its best. If you didn’t have your Java turned on, you may not see the animations going. Java adds functionality to certain images on Web pages and even in chat rooms. Now, JavaScript is the Web programming language that makes those animations work.

Okay, so how secure are these two? Both Java and JavaScript were designed with a high-end security model in mind. Java’s was written to protect your computer’s data and resources very well. To this day, there haven’t been very many recordings of it falling into a script virus trap. So, all in all, you don’t really need to worry about turning your Java off just for security reasons. Now, if you’re visiting a Web site that you think will use a lot of Java application and you feel unsafe with it, you can certainly turn it off. Do know that turning it off will disable some of the site’s functionality, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

JavaScript was designed the same way. It comes with a perfectly well working security model that will also protect the data and resources you have on your computer. Now, there have been a few incidences with viruses going through JavaScript, but they haven’t been too big and they’re not really anything to worry about. Once again, you can turn off your JavaScript when visiting certain Web sites if it makes you feel more secure. That’s completely up to you.

So, now that I have told you that you can turn the Java and JavaScript off whenever you want, it would probably be helpful to know how to do that, right? Listen up for directions! If you use Internet Explorer, go to Tools, Internet Options and click on the Security tab. Next, click on the Custom Level button and scroll down to the Scripting section. For Java, click Disable under the “Scripting of Java applets” part and for JavaScript, click Disable under “Active Scripting.” Click OK twice.

If you use Firefox, go to Tools, Options and click on the Web Features icon. Uncheck both the boxes that say “Enable Java” and “Enable JavaScript.” Click OK when you’re done.

It’s as easy as that! So, if you ever feel a little uneasy about a certain Web site and its Java applications, feel free to just turn them off. You may not get the whole effect from the site, but at least your computer will remain safe from any viruses that could be lurking around!

~ Erin