On most days, Java is a useful, free application that expands the usefulness of your web browser. However, Java isn’t a perfect application, and hackers have been using it for years to gain illegal entry to computers. Java has had several major security holes over the years, and when these holes are discovered, they’re usually patched very quickly.

However, a recent vulnerability is apparently the worst security hole that Java has ever experienced. It allows hackers to gain instant access to a user’s system, and to make matters worse, it doesn’t look like there’s a way to prevent these hackers from gaining access to the system aside from disabling Java itself.

The security flaw was first noticed by a team of PC security experts called Rapid7. The team conducts vulnerability management and “penetration testing” for companies around the world, and it sells a wide range of software solutions to businesses around the world. However, this recent vulnerability extends beyond even the power of Rapid7’s security programs, and it looks like this Java flaw will pose a real threat to PC security around the world.

Using the Java exploit, a hacker can gain instant access to the system. Access can even be gained over secure corporate networks, which means companies might be at more risk because of this flaw than consumers. Whether the hacker gains access to a corporate or personal computer, there is great potential for damage. The hacker could install a keylogger, for example, or install malware that locks down your computer and monitors your every move.

To check if your PC features the exploitable version of Java, use this free checker released by Rapid7. Otherwise, PC security experts are recommending users to disable Java or uninstall it from their systems completely. You can also install a script blocker that prevents Java from automatically running in your internet browser, which means sites wouldn’t be able to immediately infect your computer after you land on their site.

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