Should you Disable Javascript?

In a class I was recently taking, we went to a known safe web site to cut and paste some text to work with in the class. The web site, as almost all web sites on the Internet do these days, used Javascript. One of the students could not load the web site because she had been advised by someone to disable Javascript in her web browser as a security precaution. Is this necessary?

In a word, no. But that’s not the whole story. Javascript can possibly be used to invade your computer and you do need to be aware of how and how to protect yourself. Here is a good summary article about protecting yourself against Javascript malware. It gets a little technical, so I’ll summarize its advice: 

  • Keep your browser, any extensions you use within it, and your operating system, whether Windows or macOS, up to date.
  • Be suspicious of any link in an email or text. Make sure the link goes where you think it does by hovering your mouse pointer over it and checking that the address displayed in the popup line in your email program is the same as where the email says it is. Even then, don’t click on a link in an email unless you believe it is safe.
  • Run anti-malware software on your computer and keep it up to date.
  • Never click on an attachment to email unless you know who it came from and trust them. Even then, if you were not expecting an attachment, confirm with the sender that they really sent it.
  • Disable Flash and Java in your browser and operating system. (Java and Javascript are two separate, different, unrelated things.)

Yes, that’s a lot of work. It’s the price of enjoying the Internet today.

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About JCB

A retired chemical engineer who likes to play with computers.
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