Java for Mac – Should You Be Concerned?

If your Windows PC came across a Java program, you will probably never know about it as Java and the Windows operating system blend in like white on rice. Java is one of the most popular developer languages out there on the Internet. Owned by Oracle Corp, Java powers applications, programs, websites, games and basic coding on millions and millions of sites.

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Thus, it came to a surprise to everyone who owns a Mac that Java could be a potential threat to the mac.

Sometime recently, in January 2013, Macs around the world just started to block Java programs, programs that use to run in the background, when a user used or interacted with a certain site. Macs run iOS that is constantly updated with security upgrades. Since iOS is closed source, proprietary software for Macs, any Mac that is connected to the Internet can be automatically told to accept certain programs and block certain programs.

Though users have control over these options, not many are technically aware of how to turn it off and on. News columns on the Internet reported that Apple had fine-tuned or programmed their security updates to block out the latest version of Java, in browsers running on Macs. Some reports also said that Apple had blacklisted Macs that were running Java 6, an older version of Java that, despite being outdated, is still used by millions of Macs around the world, simply because their owners haven’t updated to the newer version.

It is not just Apple that seemed to have turned sour towards Java. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, despite sounding only like an organization that watches out against terrorists and missiles, is also an organization that watches out for internet threats, recommended that people stop using Java. Every browser has an option where Java can be enabled or disabled, with help from a simple checkbox. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security actually issued a recommendation that people do exactly that, to protect their computers, both Windows and Macs, from potential hacks that could be exploited when Java programs interacted with the browser.

The thing is, Java itself is harmless. It is just that it is susceptible to hackers who can modify code, without being a legitimate owner of the code, to induce something malicious onto a computer.

If you are interested in using the latest version of Java, as recommended by Apple, we suggest that you use this link here, to download the latest version of Java for macs, with improved security features, reliability and compatibility. The update was posted only on February 2, 2013.

Hence, if your system was affected by a Java interruption, it could have very well been that your Mac ran an older version of Java.

If you have the latest version of Java for your Mac but are still running into problems that keep you from enjoying full functionality out of a website, you can try this discussion thread at Apple, where you might find some answers.

We will try to update this post if there are more developments about Java and how they are either being blocked or allowed by Java. If we were to guess, Oracle, the creators of Java, would be working hard with Apple, to soothe out things. In all probability, Apple is also trying to desperately make things work with Oracle, as a browser that does not accept Java leads to a very ordinary web experience for the user, something that Apple would be very worried about, as much as they are worried about security threats that can affect a Mac, courtesy of Java code.