Java - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: If I’ve disabled Java in my web browsers already, do I really need to update it?
A: Yes, you should update Java now, and continue updating Java whenever your computer prompts you that an update is available. The most recent versions of Java will always contain patches for previously discovered security holes in Java. Updating Java on your computer will make your computer as safe as it can be from Java exploits.
Q: Then why did ITS tell me to disable Java in January 2013?
A: We advised campus to disable Java earlier because:
- There wasn’t a “patched” version of Java available to update your computer and
- At least one campus computer had been compromised by the existing security holes. That computer had to be completely wiped and rebuilt.
- Exploits that take advantages of Java vulnerabilities frequently include keystroke loggers which are used to capture passwords and financial information (credit card, banking, etc).
Q: If I update Java, should I still keep it disabled in my browsers?
A: If you have not needed Java in the past few weeks, then yes, keep it disabled in your browsers. Having Java both up to date and disabled in browsers is absolutely the safest approach. However, if you do need to use Java for some of the web-based tools that are important to your work, you can leave it enabled now. (Note that disabling Java in your browser still leaves Java available for applications installed on your computer.)
Q: Do I need to update Java on my personal/home computer?
A: Yes, update Java on every computer you use, and continue updating it whenever you receive a prompt on your computer. You can use the directions found through the ITS Resource Center page to manually update both Windows and Macintosh computers.
Q: What about my mobile devices (phone, tablet)?
A: You need not worry about Java on your phone or tablet unless you deliberately installed a Java app on your device. In that case, you should be sure to keep it up to date.
Q: What is Java ?
A: Java is three things.
- It’s a programming language.
- It’s a "virtual machine" - a program (run-time environment) you can install on any computer (including mobile devices) in which any program written in Java can run.
Q: How did I get Java in the first place? I don't remember installing it.
A: Most people will find that Java has been installed on their computers whether they were aware of it or not. Java was designed with security in mind, but because it is widely used, it is a a favorite target for cyber criminals. All software has potential security risks, especially when (like Java) it is running programs written by unknown entities across the web. You should make sure you keep Java regularly updated to minimize the risks.
Last updated: June 7, 2016