The Java plugin is part of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) and allows a browser to work with the Java platform to run Java applets to execute in the browser.
The Java plugin is enabled in a large number of browsers around the world and this makes it a target for malicious hackers. Any popular third-party plugin is subjected to the same kind of unwanted attention. The team behind Java have always taken security seriously and they will endeavor to quickly release an update to patch any serious security vulnerabilities found. This means the best way to minimize problems with the Java plugin is to make sure it is up-to-date with the latest release.
If you are really worried about the security of the Java plugin but still need to visit a popular website (e.g., online banking in some countries) that need the Java plugin enabled, then consider the two browser trick. You can use one browser (e.g., Internet Explorer) only when you want to use the websites using the Java plugin. For the rest of the time use another browser, (e.g., Firefox) with the Java plugin disabled.
Alternatively you might find that you don't go to websites that use Java very often. In this case you may prefer the option of disabling and enabling the Java plugin as needed. The instructions below will help you to set up your browser to disable (or enable) the Java plugin.
To turn on/turn off Java applets in the Firefox browser:
- Select Tools -> Add-ons from the menu toolbar.
- The Add-ons Manager window appears. Click on Plugins on the left-hand side.
- In the list on the right select the Java Plugin - the name of the plugin will vary depending on whether you are a Mac OS X or Windows user. On the Mac it will be called Java Plug-in 2 for NPAPI Browsers or Java Applet Plug-in (depending on the operating system version). On Windows it will be called Java (TM) Platform.
- The button to the right of the selected plugin can be used to enable or disable the plugin.
To enable/disable Java in the Internet Explorer browser:
- Select Tools -> Internet Options from the menu toolbar.
- Click on the Security tab.
- Click on the Custom level.. button.
- In the Security Settings window scroll down the list until you see Scripting of Java applets.
- Java applets are Enabled or Disabled depending on which radio button is checked. Click on the option you want and then click OK to save the change.
To enable/disable Java in the Safari browser:
- Select Safari -> Preferences from the menu toolbar.
- In the preferences window click on the Security icon.
- Make sure the Enable Java check box is checked if you want Java enabled or unchecked if you want it disabled.
- Close the preferences window and the change will be saved.
To turn on/turn off Java applets in the Chrome browser:
- Click on the wrench icon to the right of the address bar and choose Settings.
- At the bottom click the link called Show advanced settings...
- Under the Privacy section click on Content settings...
- Scroll down to the Plug-ins section and click on Disable individual plug-ins.
- Look for the Java plugin and click on the Disable link to turn off or the Enable link to turn on.
OperaTo enable/disable the Java plugin in the Opera browser:
- In the address bar type in "opera:plugins" and hit enter. This will display all the installed plugins.
- Scroll down to the Java plugin and click on Disable to turn off the plugin or Enable to turn it on.