In an earlier article I outlined how running Java can increase the opportunities for malicious hackers to compromise your computer.
There are several ways to protect yourself from these types of attacks, but one thing that's essential - if you don't want to completely eradicate Java from your computer - is to keep it updated.
They may be the bane of your digital life, but software updates are crucial to staying safe online, whatever operating system is installed.
First, let's take a look at how you can check whether you're running the latest - and safest - version of Java.
Checking your Java version
If you're unsure about what version of Java you're running, or whether you've got Java installed at all, head on over to the Oracle verification page.
Click on "Verify Java Version" to get started. You may be asked to allow a "Java Detection" applet from Oracle - click "Allow" to any prompts so your Java version can be checked.
If you're running the latest version of Java, you'll be met with a cheery success message. Otherwise, you'll be provided with an alert instructing you to download an up-to-date version.
If you're running Windows, your best bet is to open Control Panel and look for the "Java Control Panel" icon.
After clicking on the Java icon, visit the "Update" tab to force an update check and configure Automatic Updates.
Don't worry, OS X users - the procedure is very similar for you. Open System Preferences and look for the "Java" icon to launch the Java Control Panel, and follow the steps above to manage your updates.
Although you can disable Java from running inside your browser, I would recommend a complete uninstallation if you want to rid your computer of it for good.
The exact steps required to uninstall Java seems to change each day. So, for the latest information, I'd recommend taking a look at the guide that Oracle provides for your operating system.
Of course, you should check with your company's IT support team before making changes to your work computer.