Although Java has been considered a security threat for some time now (see my past article on Homeland security suggesting to discontinue Java), Java is still widely used for so many web based apps, that we can’t seem to get away from it. Very popular web based apps still require the use of Java and so we need to get used to the procedure below.
Previously Java never automatically removed old installs of itself despite the fact you may update the version you have regularly. Instead, we would have multiple copies of the program installed, and so even though you have the newest version installed, you would still have old versions installed being a security threat. Although Java’s new install process includes an uninstaller step at the end to search for and remove old copies of Java, I’ve seen it fail and people just overlook that final step. So, we need to manually check the programs list each time to be sure.
Also, automatic update reminders are not always popping up immediately, so you almost need a regular reminder for yourself to check these things. If you’re running a business, being on a monthly maintenance plan such as one Twinbytes offers includes this type of service during the maintenance checks.
As a general rule you should regularly check your programs for updates. This goes beyond Windows updates and anti-virus updates. Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, and Java are the main popular ones. Also, don’t forget other favorites like Skype, iTunes, and web browsers like Firefox that do not update themselves automatically.