Java software is used for many online games, chat programs, financial apps, and more. The platform, however, has come under great scrutiny lately after several security issues have been found--and continue to be found. (The latest is another zero day vulnerability that affects both Macs and PCs.) When Oracle issues patches to fix those security holes, that's great--but only if you get around to doing those updates. If you don't need Java--and most of us don't--you should get rid of it. It takes just a few minutes.
If you're not sure if your Java is exploitable or if you even have it installed, head over to the appropriately named Is your Java exploitable? website for a quick diagnosis.
To disable the Java plug-in from your browser:
- In Firefox, go to Tools, then Add-ons, and disable the plug-ins with the word "Java" in them.
- In Chrome, go to Settings, then enter "Java" in the search bar on the right, and click the "Content Settings" button. Scroll down to the Plug-ins section and click the "Disable individual plug-ins" link, where you will find Java and can disable it.
- In Safari, go to Preferences, then the Security tab, and uncheck "Enable Java." (Apple has been recently trying to eradicate Java on most Macs, so you might not see this browser plug-in.
- The Internet Explorer instructions are a little tricky, so I'll just refer you to this excellent post on Krebs on Security.
Finally, you can remove the Java software from Windows using the Add/Remove Programs function in Control Panel. SingularLab's JavaRa utility can also help you remove the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) or, if you must have Java (due to work requirements, etc.), check and update Java for you.