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If everything's infected, how do I get anything done?

Question: If everything Java is infected what other choice do I have to run Java
applications? ie. Java ire, Java runtime and so on? My security system
made me remove all Java from my PC.

Everything Java is not infected.

I know that reading all the dire warnings you might see every
day might make it seem like just turning on your computer is an
exercise in dangerous futility, but it’s just not that bad. With a
little caution on your part (and perhaps a better security system), you
can use the internet, including Java, quite safely.

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I want to address a statement you made in your question: “My
security system made me remove all Java from my PC.” My initial
reaction? That’s just wrong. I don’t know exactly what security system
you’re running, or what it saw that it decided to have you take that
action, or if perhaps there was a misunderstanding, but removing Java
from your system is not a viable solution.

Java, like any technology on your computer, can be used safely and
to great effect. It can also be abused and infected, of course, but
removing it is rarely the answer. Reinstalling it perhaps – or in the
worst case reinstalling your entire operating system, but the net
result is that you can have a safe system running Java.

So I can’t really comment on how you got to where you are, since
details are not included.

“Java, like any technology on your computer, can
be used safely and to great effect.”

But I can recommend on how to proceed, and it’s mostly the standard
safety to-do list that I’ve talked about several times.

  • Start with a clean system. If I had to hazard a
    guess, your security software did detect an infection and attempted to
    remove it. If that’s the case, the “right” thing to do is to reinstall
    the software. Perhaps even reinstall Windows itself to remove all
    traces of the infection.

  • Keep the System Up-To-Date. Turn on Windows
    automatic updates. Java, itself, has an automatic updater that you
    should let run, and should allow to update when needed. Essentially, you
    need to make sure that all the software on your machine is as
    up-to-date as possible. Why? Because all software vendors are fixing
    bugs that could be exploited to infect your system with malware. Installing
    the updates removes those vulnerabilities.

  • Get behind a firewall. I don’t really care if it’s
    a router or a software firewall, or even if all you do is turn on the
    Windows firewall, just do something. (OK, I do prefer a router, if that
    works in your scenario.) A firewall is an important first step in
    protecting your system from an entire class of malware.

  • Get better security software. Like I said, I don’t
    know what you’re running or what it told you to do what it did. It
    sounds like you’re running a suite, and I have to say that I
    really don’t believe in all-in-one security suites – I just
    keep hearing that they cause more problems than they’re worth. I would
    get a separate anti-virus product and an anti-spyware product, make
    sure that they are up to date, and make sure that the databases that
    they use are also being updated regularly.

Those are the biggies. I have more on the subject in Internet
Safety: How do I keep my computer safe on the internet?
– I
strongly recommend you read that as well.

The bottom line is that there’s no reason you can’t pull together a
system that will allow you to browse and use the internet – including
Java based technologies – safely. It just takes a little preparation
and planning.

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2 comments on “If everything's infected, how do I get anything done?”

  1. Thanks for your help Leo, I have reinstalled Java, and it is now placed in a low restricted area of the secuirty suite, where it can run safely. Thanks

  2. Leo,

    I found virtumonde virus and helper.dll virus on my wife’s laptop. Everytime I get on the internet, the pc behavior goes crazy. I did try to run Adaware in Safe mode to clean these files but it seems they still recreate themselves probably because the ergistry is infected. Any ideas how to fix these bugs.

    Not on those specifically, but if you’re running only one anti-malware program that’s certainly not enough to clean things up.

    I’ll recommend this article: My anti-virus performed a virus removal but I still have a symptom, how do I get rid of it? for some very bad news, and then this article: How did you clean up your friend’s infected machine? for a little hope.

    – Leo

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