Q. My computer keeps nagging me to update Java. I know a while back you told us to stay away from Java because it's associated with some dangerous viruses. Should I bother updating it or should I just delete it? I think I need it for some programs that I run. Thanks for always helping me keep my computer safe.
-Abby, from Laconia, NH, listens to my national radio show on WEZS 1350 AM.
A. Before I answer your question, Abby, some people might need a refresher. Java is a required part of many popular programs like LibreOffice, some Adobe programs and popular online games.
Most PCs ship with Java installed by default. Since OSX 10.7, Macs have Java automatically disabled for browsers.
Earlier in the year, hackers began finding dangerous security holes in Java. For a few months, it seemed like every time Oracle - the company that develops Java - patched one, another security hole popped up.
That's why I recommended that people disable or even delete Java. Keeping it around gave hackers a window to completely take over your PC or Mac. Sadly, it meant certain useful programs wouldn't work properly, too.
However, Oracle added some handy security features to Java.These allow you to keep using most of the Java-based programs you need without exposing your computer to security risks.