What Is Java?

What on earth is that Java thing that keeps wanting us to update?

Java is a programming language for the Web. Like ActiveX, its powers can be used for good or evil. Mostly good, if you like interactive Web sites with lots of menus and options. Evil, when Java is exploited by viruses seeking to take advantage of its versatility.

You can check your version of Java in Windows by going to Start, Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs. On Macs, Java is built into your operating system, so you will receive updates through Software Updates under the Apple menu. In general you want to use the latest non-beta version. While you may not run Java directly, the web sites you use may want it, and outdated versions are a pathway for viruses and spyware.

If you want to be geeky like me you can tune into the US-CERT news bulletin service, which provides information on new patch versions for Java and other software from major vendors including Microsoft and Apple. I keep an RSS feed to US-CERT at the bottom of the Tech Tips blog. Or, if you want your computer news less geeky, subscribe to Triona's Tech Tips to receive email bulletins about security warnings that pertain to small businesses and consumers.

Next month I'll explain the fine art of How To Spot Bad Web Links. If you have any computer questions click Comments below this article, and don't forget to subscribe to the email version of Tech Tips for bonus tips and product reviews.

Posted byTriona Guidry at 10:43 AM  


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