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While security is a common concern for Windows systems, most Mac users don’t have to worry about running an antivirus Are Anti-Virus Programs Necessary For Mac? Are Anti-Virus Programs Necessary For Mac? Read More or enabling a firewall on OS X Does Your Mac Really Need A Firewall? Does Your Mac Really Need A Firewall? Dig through your Mac's settings and you'll find a firewall, turned off by default. Isn't that insecure? Why would Apple be so irresonsible? Read More . However, this doesn’t mean that Macs are impenetrable.

Java, a Web plug-in that was once ubiquitous but is dropping out of use in favor of HTML5, is still a valid security concern for Mac users. Chris explained why browser plug-ins are the worst security problems plaguing the Web today Browser Plugins - One Of The Biggest Security Problems On The Web Today [Opinion] Browser Plugins - One Of The Biggest Security Problems On The Web Today [Opinion] Web browsers have become much more secure and hardened against attack over the years. The big browser security problem these days is browser plugins. I don’t mean the extensions that you install in your browser... Read More , and Java fits into that category perfectly.

Let’s take a look at what Java is up to on OS X, and why you should chuck it to make your computer even more secure.

What is Java?

Unfortunately, Java often gets confused with JavaScript. Java itself comprises multiple items, so it’s easy to get them mixed up. Here’s a quick rundown:

Recently, Google announced that Chrome will no longer support Java The Web Just Became More Secure: Google Drops Support for Java The Web Just Became More Secure: Google Drops Support for Java When Java was first released in 1995, it was revolutionary. But now, it's safe to say that Java has lost its shine, and Google is about to drop support for it in Chrome. Read More , meaning that anything online that needs Java will fail to run. This will greatly increase security across the Web, but why?

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What’s Wrong With Java?

As Matt explained, Chrome is cutting support for Java because it’s terrifyingly insecure. Security company Kaspersky found that Java caused half of all security attacks affecting computers in 2012; and even people who were using a Windows antivirus weren’t protected.

So what’s the issue here? Essentially, the Java plug-in doesn’t do any sort of check to ensure the content it’s about to run is safe, and with its universal installation base, it’s a perfect target for attack.

01-Java-Running-On-OSX

Stupidly, Java also doesn’t update itself. Chrome, Firefox, Flash Player, and Adobe Reader all update themselves Why Do Apps Nag Me To Update & Should I Listen? [Windows] Why Do Apps Nag Me To Update & Should I Listen? [Windows] Software update notifications seem like a constant companion on every computer. Every app wants to update regularly, and they nag us with notifications until we give in and update. These notifications can be inconvenient, especially... Read More so you don’t have to worry about doing it; why Java can’t implement this critical functionality is anyone’s guess. This leads to a large number of Web users using an outdated version of the plug-in that malicious folks have already picked apart. Most people aren’t going to update software Install Mac Software From Terminal With Homebrew Install Mac Software From Terminal With Homebrew Install (almost) any free Mac app by typing four words and hitting "Enter". Read More if they don’t see a prompt for it, and many probably don’t even realize that Java is installed on their system.

Of course, we can’t forget the atrocious Ask Toolbar that’s been bundled with Java for years. Every time you install or update Java, you have to remember to uncheck the “sponsored offer” box or else you end up with an ugly Chrome-hijacking toolbar 3 Essential Steps To Get Rid Of Chrome Hijackers In Minutes 3 Essential Steps To Get Rid Of Chrome Hijackers In Minutes Have you ever opened your browser of choice and been greeted with a bizarre-looking start page or an unsightly toolbar glued to the top of the page? Restore your browser to tip-top shape. Read More glued to your browser. The toolbar can be removed 4 Annoying Browser Toolbars & How To Get Rid Of Them 4 Annoying Browser Toolbars & How To Get Rid Of Them Browser toolbars just don't seem to go away. Let's look at some common nuisances and detail how to remove them. Read More and even suppressed in the first place, thankfully, but it’s ridiculous that Oracle imposes this on users, contributing to the issue of people failing to update Java.

How to Disable Java

Knowing all this, it’s a good idea to just purge Java from your Mac. Don’t have it installed already? That’s wonderful; certainly don’t start now. For those of you with Java, now’s a great time to completely remove it. If you’re unsure about whether you need it, it’s extremely likely that you don’t.

To check for its presence, open System Preferences and if there’s an entry for Java, it’s installed.

Removal is thankfully a breeze. You’ll need to open a Terminal window 4 Cool Things You Can Do With The Mac Terminal 4 Cool Things You Can Do With The Mac Terminal The Terminal is the Mac OS X analogue of the Windows command prompt, or CMD. It's a tool, as you probably already know, that allows you to control your computer using text commands, as opposed... Read More by pressing Command + Space to open Spotlight, then simply search for Terminal to open the prompt. Run the following line (you’ll need to type an administrator password):

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sudo rm -rf /Library/Internet\ Plug-Ins/JavaAppletPlugin.plugin/

Then run:

sudo rm -rf /Library/PreferencePanes/JavaControlPanel.prefPane

Java is now extinct from your system; can you feel the safety rushing over you?

If you’re sure you need to leave Java installed for some reason, be sure to take precautions The Top 6 Things To Consider When You Install Java Software The Top 6 Things To Consider When You Install Java Software Oracle’s Java runtime software is required to run Java applets on websites and desktop software written in the Java programming language. When installing Java, there are a few things you should consider, especially regarding security.... Read More . Here are a few ways you can minimize Java’s risk to your system if you’re keeping it around.

The safest option is to disable Java in all browsers Is Java Unsafe & Should You Disable It? Is Java Unsafe & Should You Disable It? Oracle’s Java plug-in has become less and less common on the Web, but it’s become more and more common in the news. Whether Java is allowing over 600,000 Macs to be infected or Oracle is... Read More . To do this globally, open up the Java Control Panel by going to System Preferences > Java and selecting the Security tab. Uncheck the Enable Java content in the browser box to shut it off everywhere. However, if you need Java for a particular website, this isn’t going to do much good. Instead, you should keep multiple browsers around 3 Unmissable Reasons Opera Is the Right Browser for Your Mac 3 Unmissable Reasons Opera Is the Right Browser for Your Mac Chrome and Firefox rule on Windows, but on OS X, Opera is the browser to beat. Eternal favorites Chrome and Firefox can give you flexibility, but not without some heavy compromises. Read More and allow Java in only one of them.

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Newer versions of Safari allow Java on a per-site basis; head to Safari > Preferences > Security and choose Website Settings… next to Internet plug-ins. Select Java from the left panel and you can see a list of sites that you’ve given the green light. At the bottom, changing the setting to Block will ensure Java only runs on sites you explicitly allow.

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Java automatically checks for updates, but it’s a good idea to ensure you haven’t missed any by occasionally going to the Java Control Panel again and paying a visit to the Update tab, where you’ll be notified of new versions.

Finally, make sure you don’t get hammered with junkware when updating by going to Java Control Panel > Advanced and scrolling all the way down to Suppress sponsor offers… Checking this box puts Java in its place and stops you accidentally installing adware you don’t need.

05-Java-Suppress-Offers-Mac

The Hole in Your Mac’s Security

These security problems aren’t just theory. In the past, Java has been responsible for Mac threats, most notably the Flashback Trojan that took advantage of Java in OS X and affected some 600,000 users. It wasn’t short-lived, either: we reported on Flashback in October 2011 New Trojan For Mac Disables XProtect Auto Update [News] New Trojan For Mac Disables XProtect Auto Update [News] A Trojan recently made the rounds for Mac that appeared to be an update for Flash, but was actually a piece of malicious software called Flashback.A. Apple has since updated XProtect to block this dangerous... Read More , February 2012 Flashback Mac Trojan Is Back, With A Vengeance [News] Flashback Mac Trojan Is Back, With A Vengeance [News] Read More , and then again in April 2012 New Variant Of Flashback For Mac Attacks Again [Updates] New Variant Of Flashback For Mac Attacks Again [Updates] Read More . Flashback wouldn’t quit, and those without Java installed were safeguarded against the infection.

Apple computers are generally rock-solid when it comes to security (aside from a few slip-ups like the fake MACDefender antivirus program Malware Disguised As Antivirus Targets Mac Users [News] Malware Disguised As Antivirus Targets Mac Users [News] A bogus version of the MacDefender antivirus application has recently fooled many Apple Mac OSX users into downloading and installing the malware on their computers. The fake antivirus, called MAC Defender, specifically targets Mac users... Read More ), so it makes sense that one of the biggest infections on the platform originated from a third-party plug-in. Zero-day vulnerabilities What Is a Zero Day Vulnerability? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is a Zero Day Vulnerability? [MakeUseOf Explains] Read More aren’t something to mess around with, and no operating system is immune. Your Mac is secure; keep it that way by obliterating Java’s residence on your machine.

Take a minute to make your Mac even more secure by spotting the signs of a virus I Think My Mac Has A Virus! 3 Ways You Can Tell I Think My Mac Has A Virus! 3 Ways You Can Tell Is your Mac acting kind of... weird? Whether you're seeing adverts you can't explain, or your system is unreasonably slow, you might think the problem is malware. But you're probably wrong. Read More and putting a stop to annoying pop-ups Pop Ups on Your Mac? How to Stop Them Once and For All Pop Ups on Your Mac? How to Stop Them Once and For All They break your focus, get in the way and sometimes baffle you. Why won't these pop ups go away? Read More .

Will you be removing Java on your Mac? If you still need Java, what’s making you keep it on your system? Let us know what you think about the plug-in by leaving a comment!

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