What is Java and do I need it? In my opinion, if you find yourself asking that question, chances are, you probably don’t need Java.

Annoying Java Update Notification

That all too familiar Java Update Notification

So, just what is Java? Well, to put it simply, Java is a popular, feature-rich, programming language that is currently used heavily in enterprise-level computing worlds. Most people know Java as that little window that pops up on an annoyingly regular basis, bugging you about updates.

Why does it update so often? Simply put, bugs. The feature-rich nature of Java ultimately results in it having a greater attack surface. As with any popular software, Java receives a great deal of attention from people who find and exploit software vulnerabilities for their own person gain.

So, do you need Java? Well, unless you’re living in an enterprise computing environment, probably not. Most small business and home users I work with don’t use, or need Java. In my estimation, most users have far more interaction with (and frustration caused by) the Java updater, rather than with programs that actually rely on Java. Ready to uninstall? Skip to instructions for uninstalling Java.

Precautions for Securing Java

So, you’ve decided you need Java. Well, don’t feel bad. A lot of people need Java. You’ll find no shortage of articles on the web about securing Java, so I’m not going to create yet another article on the topic. However, I do feel I should mention a few of the more common-sense precautions that you can take to keep yourself secure. While there is no “magic bullet” when it comes to securing Java, there are some precautions that will minimize your chances of exploitation. The basic idea, as with all security practices, is to reduce your attack surface.

Java Updates - Deal with it.

Java Updates – Deal with it.

The first, and arguably most important precaution: Updates. I know, the never-ending torrent of updates can be annoying, but if you need to have Java installed on your machine, you need to learn how to live with the frequent updates.

Secondly, pay closer attention to your browsing habits. If you frequent “untrustworthy” or “suspect” websites, you’re at a greater risk of exploitation. Remember what your parents taught you: “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”. Chances are you won’t be getting that free Macbook Air just for clicking on an advertisement. You’re more likely to be a victim, a statistic.

Finally, consider taking a step to make your browser more secure by only allowing Java applets to run with you explicit permission. If you’re running Chrome, ensure the “click to play” setting is enabled. If you’re using Firefox, you should consider installing the Noscript extension. Noscript has a bit of a learning curve, and may not easiest for the average user, but in my opinion, it’s well worth it.

To Uninstall Java on Windows

If you don’t need Java or don’t know if you need Java, I recommend playing it safe by simply uninstalling it. Uninstalling Java only takes a few minutes and is very easy to do. If you find that you need it in the future, (re)installing Java is fast and easy.

Begin by opening the Windows Control Panel
Select “Programs and Features”

Windows Control Panel

Windows Control Panel

Find Java on the list, then click the “Uninstall” button

Programs and Features Window

Programs and Features Window

The Java uninstaller will load, then simply follow the prompts to completely uninstall Java from your machine. That’s it, nice and easy.