Watch Out for That Little Check Box!


checkbox for toolbars

It happened to me once. It could happen to you…. You could accidentally install the Ask.com toolbar on your browser. If this hasn’t happened to you, friends don’t let friends install this toolbar! Please read on.

The Ask Toolbar

You probably have already received an alert that an updated version of Java is available. Notice the little check box next to “Install the Ask Toolbar and make Ask my default search provider.” Uncheck this box before you hit “next!” It’s very difficult to remove the Ask Toolbar once it’s installed. (Java also offers the  McAfee Security Scanner. Uncheck this, too.)

How-To Geek has a step-by-step guide for removing this toolbar if you already have it installed. If you need more help uninstalling the Ask Toolbar, here’s a very detailed post from Malware Tips: Remove Ask Toolbar and Ask.com Search (Uninstall Guide)

Some of you will be interested in the behind-the-scenes of what’s going on with this “foistware” as Ed Botts calls it. I recommend you read his article on ZDNet.com, A close look at how Oracle installs deceptive software with Java updates. It’s actually good reading for all of us so we’re aware of the advertising driving this toolbar and of how it even tries to get you to install it after browsers have taken steps to stop it from installing automatically.

Other Third-Party “Foistware”

Whenever you’re installing, please uncheck the checkboxes offering additional software to what you’re expecting to download.Thankfully, Adobe and Skype are moving away from this behavior.

Should You Even Have Java?

Ed Botts’ article explains the huge security holes that Java leaves open.  How-To Geek encourages us to disable Java in this article: Java is Insecure and Awful, It’s Time to Disable It, and Here’s How. I can’t afford security risks on my computer, so I’m going to follow his advice.  Before you do anything, also read Java is not JavaScript – tell your friends! so you uninstall Java, not JavaScript (which you will probably want to keep).

What about you? Did you ever accidentally install a toolbar you didn’t want? Have you removed Java?

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