Your Computer Is Exploitable

| January 26, 2013 | 6 Comments

You have an current antivirus installed and you run Windows Updates. That’s great. You’re safe to roam the Internet. You can bank online, research online and game online without having to worry about getting a virus. You don’t click on links in emails and you have WPA-2 installed on your home router. You’re a proactive, responsible computer user. Your PC is as impenetrable as Fort Knox.

But when was the last time you updated Adobe Reader, Adobe Shockwave, Adobe Flash Player or Java?

People are learning how important it is to run an antivirus and to turn on automatic updates in Windows. But the word just simply hasn’t gotten out to update third-party applications, as well. Java only just recently released Java SE 7 Update 11, an update that patched a serious security flaw that exposed nearly a billion computers to hackers.

These types of exploits are usually referred to as Zero-Day Exploits, meaning hackers are taking advantage of a security problem before developers have a chance to address the issue and release a patch. Unless your IT department warns you, or you happen to catch the story on the news or read it in the paper, would you ever even think to update Java or Reader? Probably not.

How To Update Java and Adobe Reader

Open your Control Panel and look under the programs section. You may be horrified to see you are still running Adobe reader 7 or Java 6. How long have you been surfing the web, visiting websites that have been exploited and exposing your computer to countless infections? Weeks, months, Years? You should uninstall older versions of Java and visit Java.com to see if there is an update. Once on the Java website, click the Do I Have Java link? Your computer will be scanned to determine if you have the latest version and you will be prompted to update if there is one.

You can also check to see if there is an updated version of Adobe Reader available. Assuming you have it installed on your computer, launch Adobe Reader and then click Help in the menu. Next, select Check For Updates.

update adobe reader

If an update is available, you will have the option to download and install the update.

Should You Uninstall or Disable Java and Adobe Reader

You can uninstall Java and Adobe Reader, but unfortunately, many of the things we do on the computer require these applications be installed. You can disable Java in your browser settings and enable it only when you encounter content from a trusted source that requires Java to be running. But is that even safe?

disable java

You might consider uninstalling Java unless you really need it. Many people have it installed and never use it. It all depends on what you do on your computer and the sites you visit. If you uninstall Java and find you need it later on, simply download it again from Java.com and you will know you have the latest, most secure version they offer.

Regarding Adobe Reader, there are other program you can use to open PDF files. FoxIt is a great alternative to Adobe Reader.

In Conclusion

It’s no longer enough to be steadfast in ensuring your have a current antivirus install and that you have all of the latest Microsoft updates. In this Internet age, where simply visiting a website can infect your computer, it is important to make sure all of your third-pary applications are up to date. While it seems like we were picking on Adobe and Java, we were simply using them as an example. Uninstall any software you know you do not need and frequently check updates to those programs you simply cannot live without. There are a lot of ways to exploit your computer. Reducing these options by uninstalling unnecessary applications and choosing alternatives could help ensure your computer’s security health going forward.

Just for kicks, let us know below what version of Adobe Reader and Java you are currently running. At the time of this article, the most recent version of Adobe Reader is 11.0.01 and Java most recent version is Java 7 Update 11.

Category: Security

Dave

About the Author ()

Dave has been providing free computer repair and tech support advice online since 2002. Join us on our forums and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for weekly tips and other helpful computer articles. Connect with me on: Google+

Comments (6)

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  1. Ian says:

    I use Google chrome to open PDF files, I set it as default via control panel/default programs. The chrome files are located in app data, to locate just go to start/all programs/Google chrome, right-click, properties. then copy paste the target field. You’ll have all the functionality of the reader within the extension.

  2. Frank says:

    I use Secunia Personal Software Inspector to help keep my “non-Microsoft” programs updated. All of my software, including Adobe and Java, is up to date, though for now I have Java disabled.

    Secunia PSI is free for home use. (No, I don’t work for Secunia.)

  3. grace uribes says:

    hello
    i have been having a problem with my HP pavilion dv6 3225dx laptop pc; the problem is when my laptop gets hot and it will cause it to automatically shutdown.

    once a week i always blow out the pc with a air cleaner for my laptop; but every week it does the same problem; are there any solutions that i have missed?

    besides having a free antivirus; antispyware, and k9 blue collar protection on my laptop.

    • Dave Dave says:

      You want to make sure when you’re using the laptop that the vent is not obstructed–for instance, use it on a flat surface, not in bed. This could be a sign the fan is going bad in the laptop. You might also want to look at a laptop cooler. This is something that will go on the bottom of the laptop and help keep it cool.

      • grace uribes says:

        yes; i have used a laptop cooling fan; but it would still shut down when my pc gets hot; are there any other solutions out there? my laptop is always on a flat surface..

        • Dave Dave says:

          Maybe the fan will need to be cleaned better, which means removing the case or at least the keyboard. If that doesn’t help, the fan may need to be replaced.

          Taking the keyboard off is usually pretty simple. Sometimes this will expose the fan.

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