Oracle this week pushed an updated version of its Java runtime environment that fixes 21 security vulnerabilities, 19 of which allow attackers to remotely install malicious software on end-user machines.
The company recommends users install Java 6 Update 24 as soon as possible, but before readers follow though, allow us to offer this modest proposal: Try uninstalling Java altogether. This will dramatically shrink the attack surface of your machine, and unless you use a handful of specific applications, you'll never notice the difference.
Once upon a time, Java, with its mantra of write once, run anywhere, was the white knight that was going to save the mankind from the predatory clutches of Microsoft Windows. It never quite worked out that way – at least on the desktop – but the prospect was enough to “scare the hell” out of Bill Gates (your reporter's byline used to accompany that CNET exclusive but it was removed years ago for reasons that are unknown).
Despite the hype about Java's superior security model, the framework by some accounts has surpassed Adobe applications as the most exploited software package, with millions of attacks logged each quarter. While the vast majority of the affected platforms are Windows, attacks, albeit lame ones for now, are beginning to target Mac OS X and . And given Steve Jobs' insistence of thinking differently, Apple doesn't typically release Java security updates until months after they come out of Oracle.
Even Java attacks against Linux are now being seen.
We won't spend much time complaining about Oracle's legal broadside on the Android operating system, but that's another reason you may want to avoid Java.
So go ahead, give it a try and uninstall Java completely. You can always reinstall it if you need to, although as we've already said, if you're like most people, there's little chance you'll need to.
No, OpenOffice does not require Java. Per the official OpenOffice Wiki, Java is required merely to complete OpenOffice. Most OpenOffice functions work just fine on machines that don't have Java installed.