Two Prompts You Should Not Ignore

Two Prompts You Should Not Ignore

September 10, 2013

Our computers can be chatty sometimes, with messages, popups and dialog boxes appearing at seemingly random times, informing us of one thing or another. I know that many people get weary of these messages and just click whatever button will make them go away. But if you have the helper applications Java and Flash Player installed, as most people do, there are two prompts you should never ignore.

A recent article from Websense Security Labs says that a dangerously large percentage of users are running a Java or Flash program that is not up to date.

Oracle's Java and Adobe's Flash Player are two programs that you almost never run directly. They are available to your other programs as helper apps to display or run certain types of content. Your web browser is the usual pathway to a Java or Flash process.

Both of these programs are also very commonly used as entry points for malicious software, viruses and trojans that are trying to get a toehold in your computer. For that reason, Oracle and Adobe release frequent updates to their programs to close the door on these exploits.

If you don't require Java or Flash for the sites you visit, you should disable or uninstall them completely. This is the safest way to manage your exposure to Java and Flash attacks. But if you do need them, then don't ignore the prompts you get about updates to Java and/or Flash. When an update is released for either of them, install it immediately.

If you have User Account Control active on a Windows PC, the prompt for a Java update may be blocked. You will see a UAC question first:

Java UNC prompt

 

If the program name is jucheck.exe, and the verified publisher is Oracle, then click Yes to allow the updater to check for updates. The next prompt will appear:

Java system tray notification

 

When that notification appears, click it to begin the update process for Java, then follow the prompts to download and install the update.

 

Similarly, the prompt for Adobe Flash Player will appear like this:

Adobe Flash Player update

 

When it appears, click Install and get the update.

One caution: watch the installers as they present the install process to you. Often they will offer an additional payload, such as a toolbar. browser, or security software that you don't need. Be sure to uncheck the checkbox to turn off installation of the optional unrelated software.