Recently a new Java exploit that infects systems through the internet browser plugin has made systems across the globe vulnerable to infection. The exploit affects anyone running the 1.7 Java Runtime Environment or later. Earlier version 1.6 are safe, for now. You’re also safe using Java-based desktop applications that are not designed to browse the web. Currently only Windows computers are at risk, but it could easily migrate to Mac or Linux by the time Oracle releases a security patch.
According to theregister.co.uk the vulnerability infects systems when a web browser with a Java plugin enabled visits a webpage hosting the exploit. The attacking website will trick the browser into downloading nearly any type of 3rd party software in the background without notice. This includes viruses, malware, spyware, trojans, or other malicious packages. Under normal circumstances, Oracle only patches Java three times a year, and the next update is due October 16, 2012. So unless Oracle breaks its update habit and release an early fix, the only thing you can do to protect yourself in the meantime is disable Java on all of your web browsers. Here’s how:
How to Disable Java in the top 3 web browsers
- Open Google Chrome and type chrome://plugins into the address bar.
- Scroll down the list and then click the Disable button.
Java should now be disabled in Chrome.
- Open Firefox and click the Firefox button then select Add-ons.
- In the Add-ons Manager click the Plugins tab and then click Disable for the two Java items in the list.
Java in Firefox should now be disabled.
- Disable Windows UAC (unfortunately Oracle never solved compatibility issues…)
- Open the Control Panel, then the Java applet from the control panel. In order to see this window you may need to change the View to Large icons (button at the top-right)
- In the Java applet click the Advanced tab.
- Click the Microsoft Internet Explorer checkbox. It is grayed out by default, because Oracle devs are jerks. Just select it and push the spacebar to sneakily get around that.
- Click OK to save changes. Restart the computer and make sure Java is disabled.
- Re-enable UAC.