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As usual, there’s yet another security hole in the Java Runtime Environment, and if you don’t disable your Java plugin, you’re at risk for being infected with malware. Here’s how to do it.
Security holes are nothing new, but in this case, the security hole is really bad, and there’s no telling when Oracle will get around to fixing the problem. Plus, how often do you really need Java while browsing the web? Why keep it around?
Should You Disable Java or Uninstall it?
Ideally, both. Otherwise:
- If you don’t rely on any applications that use Java, and you don’t visit any sites that require Java in the browser, you should just completely remove the entire framework from your computer.
- If you use applications that require Java, you should disable the plugin in the browser.
- If you are forced to use Java in the browser for a specific site, you should disable Java in your main browser, and then use an alternate browser just for that one single site.
For regular users, there’s very little reason to keep Java around.
Note: many readers pointed out that the fun and extremely geeky game Minecraft requires Java. Obviously if you’re a geek, you deserve some Minecraft–but you should still disable the Java plugin in the browser.
How to Uninstall Java Entirely
Just like anything else, you need to head to Control Panel –> Uninstall Programs and uninstall it from there. Find anything else that has Java, JRE, JDK, or anything similar, and click the Uninstall button—it is completely free, so you can easily reinstall it if you really have to.
How to Disable the Java Plugin in Google Chrome
For Google Chrome, head to about:plugins in your browser bar, and then hit the Enter key.
Find Java in the list, and click the Disable button.
How to Disable the Java Plugin in Internet Explorer
Head to the Tools icon, and then use the Manage add-ons item in the menu.
Find the Java plugin in the list, click on it, and then click the Disable button. You’ll notice that this screenshot illustrates how to remove LastPass, but the same idea works for both.
How to Disable Java in Mozilla Firefox
Open up the Firefox menu and then click the Add-ons button.
Find everything that says Java in the name, and then disable it.
Finally, Java is gone! Now to find a good reason to get rid of iTunes.
Everyone likes a happy ending. Even more so, everyone likes a happy ending with an added bonus. Make tells the story of how a victim of a theft not only caught the perpetrator, but how his sleuthing also resulted in a drug bust.
Here’s what happened. Two guys rented a car, left their computer equipment in backpacks in the trunk, and went off to Maker Faire in Detroit. Using a screwdriver, the thief unlocked the car, popped the trunk, and made off with a MacBook Pro, an iPad, and other equipment. His job was easy. The victims’ job was a lot harder.
First, they found a police station and started giving local officials all the information they could remember. The ball really started rolling when a police officer asked “Was there an iPad or any way to track your computers?” The owner of the iPad tried to use the “Find my iPad” service to no avail. Thankfully, the owner of the MacBook Pro also had something similar: he had subscribed to an online backup service calledBackblaze. Not only was everything on his computer (personal files and photos) backed up, but there was a little “Locate My Computer” button that was worth a shot.
The first time the button was clicked, it showed the computer’s last position (based on Wi-Fi networks in the area), before it was stolen. Since the criminal hadn’t used the Internet on the computer, Backblaze couldn’t do much. They had reached a dead end, and the case wasn’t exactly a priority for local police:
Officer said to call if we had updates. While very nice, he didn’t sound overly hopeful. Clearly, the officers in Detroit had more important things to do like catch murderers, rapists, and other criminals than find our missing electronics. I can’t say I blame them.
The next morning, Backblaze and “Find My iPad” were still not showing anything. Later in the day though, the MacBook Pro owner was presented with this map when clicking on Backblaze’s “Locate My Computer” button:
Unfortunately, contacting Detroit’s police department only resulted in another: officials couldn’t do anything without an exact address. Thankfully, the thief was looking to sell his car and put a few photos of it on the MacBook Pro, which Backblaze then in turn backed up to the cloud. As a result, the victim managed to get the perpetrator’s address and phone number by doing two things: comparing the house in the background of the photos against what Google StreetView showed, and finding a Craigslist ad for the sale of the car.
The police eventually did the rest:
According to the detective, he assembled a team, and search warrant in hand, knocked on the door of the house. Receiving no answer, they turned on sirens and lights and announced their intention to enter — which they then did, with the aid of a Halligan bar and door ram. Once in, the house was swept and declared clear. Well, except for the drugs.
A search of the house, “designed for narcotics distribution,” yielded “multiple, large jars of suspected Marijuana, multiple individually packaged vials of suspected Marijuana and multiple knotted baggies of suspected Marijuana.” My computer was located in an upstairs bedroom next to a mattress.
Unfortunately, the iPad and other content in the bags still haven’t been found. The victims did, however, learn a few lessons that everyone should keep in mind:
- Install a remote backup system.
- Don’t keep important items in your car.
- Be really nice to police officers. They have a very hard job.
If I had to add something to that, I would say: don’t despair and never give up! Oh, and always let the cops do the actual busting.
Image credit: stock.xchng
A newly discovered botnet is adding victims to its list by claiming to be an interesting video from a Facebook user. That’s nothing new. Here’s what makes this malware unique: it can spread via multiple instant messaging services, including Facebook Chat, Skype, Google Talk, Pidgin, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and even ICQ.
The initial point of contact is Facebook (not surprising given that it’s the world’s most popular social network): the malware’s filename is typically something like “Picturexx.JPG_http://www.facebook.com.” It proliferates through the social network via an Ajax command that makes it look like the message came from one of your Facebook friends.
Once the malware is on the machine, it can receive commands from a remote attacker. From there, the victim’s computer sends out instant messages via the aforementioned platforms in a constant attempt to infect more PCs, according toMcAfee:
Once on your machine, the malware bypasses the Windows Firewall by using the command line “netsh firewall allowed program” or by modifying the firewall policy to add itself as an allowed program. It then adds itself to start up when you reboot your computer and copies itself to another folder for safe keeping, marking the copy as a hidden file with read-only attributes. If you are checking for an infection, here are the three paths it might be in: the Windows folder, the Program Files folder, or the Public folder.
The malware does a series of checks for anything that can get in its way, and then disables them: antivirus software, Windows Update, and even Yahoo update software. It even changes the Internet Explorer start page, and modifies Chrome and Firefox’s preference files.
As a general word of caution, don’t click on any links you are sent via instant message. If you really can’t help yourself, always message your friend to make sure they really did send you something.
Image credit: stock.xchng
In Honour to a Great Man….who made the ‘Giant Leap.’
I once watched Neil Armstrong sign his name, and it appeared to be one of the hardest things he’d ever done. Not because he was infirm — though in 2010 he was clearly looking frail — and not because his signature wasn’t still the strong and spiky cursive that was always as much calligraphy as it was mere handwriting. It was because for more than 41 years, writing his name was all people seemed to want him to do. For a uniquely private man, the offering up of the autograph had become an act of surrender, of obeisance, even of commerce — as the signature he handed over in a restaurant on a Monday would wind up for sale at an autograph show on a Tuesday. So he just stopped doing it — until one day he had to.
That day was in March 2010, when he, Gene Cernan and…
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Washington, May 11 (ANI): Archaeologists in Guatemala have reported the striking discovery of a small building, whose walls exhibit not only a stunningly preserved mural of a brightly adorned Mayan king, but also calendars that obliterate any notion that the Mayans envisaged the end of the world in 2012.
These deep-time calendars can be used to count thousands of years into the past and future, countering pop-culture and New Age ideas that Mayan calendars ended on Dec. 21, 2012, (or Dec. 23, depending on who’s counting), thus predicting the end of the world.
The newly found calendars, which track the motion of the moon, Venus and Mars, provide an unprecedented glimpse into how these storied sky-gazers – who dominated Central America for nearly 1,000 years – kept such accurate track of months, seasons and years, Washington Post reported.
“What they’re trying to do is understand the large cycles of cosmic time,” said William Saturno, the Boston University archaeologist who led the expedition.
“This is the space they’re doing it in. It’s like looking into da Vinci’s workshop.”
Before the new discovery, the best-preserved Mayan calendars were inscribed in bark-paged books dubbed codices, the most popular being the Dresden Codex. But those pages hail from several hundred years later than the recently found calendars.
Saturno asserted that researchers have long assumed that the Mayans had worked out the cycles of the moons and planets much earlier, but no proof of such work had ever been found.
But in 2010, an undergraduate student working with Saturno, Max Chamberlain, stumbled onto the house as the team started excavating at a Mayan city, Xultun, which, despite being known since 1915, had never been professionally excavated.
For decades, looters had dug deep trenches to access buildings. One day at lunch, Chamberlain declared his intention to find paintings by crawling through the trenches.
Saturno scoffed. The buildings were too shallow – any paint on their walls would surely be long gone, erased by water, dirt, insects and encroaching tree roots.
But sure enough, Chamberlain stumbled onto a wall, open to a trench, showing two red lines.
A quick excavation revealed the back wall of the building – replete with a mural of a resplendent Mayan king, in bright blue, adorned with feathers and jewellery.
Saturno’s team brushed off the wall and “ta-da!” he said.
“A Technicolor, fantastically preserved mural. I don’t know how it survived.”
The mural is the first Mayan painting found in a small building instead of a large public space. And it’s also the oldest known preserved Mayan painting.
Next to the king, a scribe holds a writing instrument. Three inexplicable figures wearing black also march across the wall. One of them is named “older brother obsidian.”
Mayan experts are clueless about whom these mysterious figures might represent.
Once the team uncovered quite a few columns of red and black dots and dashes – the Mayans’ numbering system – the meaning of these figures was almost immediately evident to David Stuart, one of the world’s leading experts in Mayan hieroglyphics.
It was a lunar table, displaying a 4,784-day cycle of the moon’s phases.
The table is split into 27 columns, each representing six lunar months. Each column is topped by the face of one of three moon gods – a jaguar, a skull and a woman. These three repeat. So by consulting the table, a priest, say, could tell which moon god would preside over a particular date.
On another wall sits a smaller set of four columns of figures. These looked a bit more perplexing. But eventually Saturno’s team figured it out: This second table was filled with huge numbers relating to how long it takes Mars and Venus to cross the sky and come back again. This calendar spans some 7,000 years – heading much farther into the future than the supposed doomsday date.
“Like a lot of ancient cultures, they were able with naked-eye astronomy to calculate the paths of the planets,” Stuart said.
“We tend to forget that before telescopes, people were able to analyze the movement of planets in a lot of detail – and figure out exactly, to the day, the length of a Venus year and a Mars year.”
Saturno asserted that the building had been filled in by the Mayans, heaped with dirt and rubble.
“They just backed themselves out the door and left,” he said; no one knows why. But the fill probably helped preserve the paintings.
With the virtually unexplored city of Xultun consisting hundreds of buildings stretching across at least 16 square miles of jungle, Saturno guesses that a number of other surprises await excavation.
“It might take another two decades,” he added.
He hopes the world to still exist then and insisted he’d bet anyone a million dollars that it will. The Mayan calendar does begin a new “long cycle,” later this year, but he equated that with the odometer on a car rolling over from 99,999 miles to zero: “You go, ‘Yay,’ but the car just doesn’t disappear.”
The discovery is detailed in Science magazine and in National Geographic. (ANI)