With the latest version of Java from Oracle, version 7 update 11, the end-user is now in better control over what Java applications are able to run through the browser.
After updating a system with version 7, update 11, when running any Java application located on a website, a message will display asking the user if the application should be allowed to run. The user has the ability to allow it to run or not. If allowed to run, the user can also configure it to not ask again for this same application. (see below)
What a change from the old days of security experts letting you know that you can better secure your system by completely disabling Java. While this is very true and very good advice, for many, not a viable option as many websites depend on Java for important functionality on their sites.
With the new option of allowing or disabling on a per-application basis, the end-user is now able to control which applications they wish to trust. It also allows the user to become aware of how many Java applications are actually being run on their system. Most users had no idea what and how many Java apps were being run, because they were never presented with a prompt.
Will you trust all Java applications from a vendor you have dealt with before? Will you only allow them for online banking sites? Now it is up to you, for the first time in Java's 18 year existence.
HOW TO UPDATE JAVA
UPDATE 1/14/2013 8:15 PM EST: Yesterday, we mentioned that the 'About' screen for Java did not display Version 7 Update 11, even after updating. This cause a lot of frustration and understandibly confusion about whether or not the update actually installed correctly. Good news, the 'About' screen has been updated to reflect that the Java version is now 7 update 11 (Duh, Oracle! Shame on you!). To see it, go to the Control Panel, click on Java, then click on the About button. If you are updated to version 7, update 11 you should see what is shown below. See the steps below to perform the actual update on Windows. It is pretty easy, and we do recommend that after the install, you reboot your computer, even if it does not tell you to do otherwise.
To check your version, go to your system control panel, and click on the Java icon. From the General tab of the Java Control Panel, click on About. If it says anything less that Version 7, update 11 (like that shown below), then you do not have the latest version. Click the java link below to get the latest version. If you want another way to test your Java version, you can go to this page: http://javatester.org/version.html
To update, go to www.java.com, and download version 7, update 11 or later for your system.
- IT Guy
BEFORE JAVA UPDATE: