Most browser support experts agree that one of the most common threats to security with your Web browser are the plugins that are added to them. These are programs that are added to your browsers to enhance your browsing experience and run things like audio or video right in your browser window.
The problem is that as the browsers have become more difficult for malware to breach, those trying to gain access to your information have begun exploiting opportunities that are more readily available with plugins. These plugins include things like Flash, which enhances videos or online games, or even programs that prevent popup ads or scripts from running while you’re trying to browse.
One plugin that has become a focus of hackers is Java. It is an extremely common programming language and computing platform that powers numerous utilities, games and business applications. It also apparently has numerous holes in its programming that is being exploited by hackers.
The makers of Java do send patches to fix these holes whenever they can, so it is important to add updates to your browser as soon as they appear on your computer. However, it seems like as soon as you get a patch to fix one security hole, another one pops up.
The most recent update was sent out Feb. 19, 2013, however a blog on FireEye.com on Feb. 28 reported that a malware was discovered that exploited a hole in the latest version of Java. The blog recommends that you disable Java until a patch is issued to fix this hole.
The next update is due April 16, but it is not known if this will include the patch for this new threat. Java updates come out every few months.
Disabling Java may prevent you from needing browser support services
To disable Java in Internet Explorer, go into the Tools menu, which is the gear icon in the upper-right corner, and select “Manage add-ons.” Click on “Toolbars and Extensions” in the left pane under Add-on Types and highlight the entry for the Java plug-in, which is published by “Sun Microsystems Inc.” Click on the “Disable” button in the bottom-right corner.
For Firefox, go to “Add-ons” in the Tools menu. Choose “Plugins” on the left side, find the Java plugin and click on the disable button after it on the right side. If you use Google Chrome, copy and paste “chrome://plugins” in the address bar and hit Enter. This will display a list of plugins. Find the Java plugin and click on the disable link next to it.
While you are disabling Java, you may want to check out the other plugins and look for ones you aren’t using or just don’t need. Disable these plugins as well, because any of them could prove to be access for a hacker. The less you use, the less chances of a security breach.
If you’re unsure if you need a plugin when using Chrome, it has an option that allows you to decide when to use it. Go into the general menu in the upper-right corner, which uses an icon that is three horizontal lines. Click on “Settings” and then scroll to the bottom and click on “Show advanced settings.” In the Privacy section, click on the “Content settings” button. Under “Plug-ins,” click on the circle next to “Click to play.”
This enables the feature that requires you to click on anything that runs a plugin before it will run. This also is nice to prevent audio files or videos from automatically playing unexpectedly when you are browsing on websites.
If you are unsure of what plugins to disable, you may want to contact a computer tech support company that offers browser support services. They can help you determine what plugins to use and how best to optimize your browsing experience.