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I was wondering if the Ask.com toolbar is spyware. I play a game called Minecraft and it requires Java. The Java installer also installed the Ask.com toolbar. I want to play one of my favorite games but my step dad says this toolbar collects and transmits personal information such as bank account info, etc. What do I do in this situation?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Michael Kjörling, gronostaj, mpy, Darth Android, techie007 Jul 23 '13 at 0:28

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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For all intents and purposes, while I would label the Ask Toolbar as no less than adware, I wouldn't go as far as to say it's spyware and harvesting your information (Oracle is a fairly reputable company, although that is still no excuse for this toolbar bundling IMHO). That being said, you can always uninstall it after the fact should you have concerns (esp. if you never end up using it). The toolbar is optional and you can skip it during the installation. –  Breakthrough Jul 14 '13 at 5:12
    
Are we talking about "ask.com"? What does ask have to do with Minecraft? Minecraft may need java, but what does that have to do with using ask?(assuming we are talking about "ask.com".) I don't believe ask (.com) would risk user out-cry by searching your hard drive. However, "ask" is completely unrelated to java or Minecraft. Please clarify does ask refer to "ask.com". –  cybernard Jul 14 '13 at 5:14
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@cybernard When you download the JRE from Oracle, during the install process, it asks you to install the "ask.com" toolbar. You can decline this step and still install the JRE or uninstall it after the install completes. –  Scott Chamberlain Jul 14 '13 at 6:02
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It should be pointed out that the ask toolbar waits 10 minutes before installing, meaning that it acts EXTREMELY like a virus and you have to remember to uninstall it. –  Chipperyman Jul 14 '13 at 6:16
    
@ScottChamberlain Oh I forgot about that. I always automatically uncheck that so I never get it. –  cybernard Jul 14 '13 at 15:00
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4 Answers

Just uninstall the ask toolbar from Control panel -> Programs -> Uninstall a Program

It will leave java installed so you can still play minecraft.

There are many kinds of bad software, and Ask Toolbar, while stupid, is not trying to steal your bank account info. It is a good idea to avoid installing software you don't need. Its a lot easier to keep a nice clean system free of the software that really IS trying to break into your bank account.

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" is not trying to steal your bank account info" - You never know, these days... Would be a nice attack vector, given the number of installs gained through being shipped with Java by default... –  Zero3 Jul 24 '13 at 3:24
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Yes uninstall ask toolbar from uninstall a program, and when downloading a program read the complete installation instructions and uncheck programs not wanted. Pay attention. There may be more unwanted programs installed at the same time.

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While AskToolbar is not a spyware it hijacks your browser's default homepage and search engines. Also many report that its removal is difficult (simply trying to uninstall it from Control Panel did not work for some people).

When Installing Java, make sure to clear the check box next to Install AskToolbar so that it doesn't install it.

There is a petition here to demand removal of AskToolbar from Java. Sign it here and pass it around:

http://change.org/petitions/oracle-corporation-stop-bundling-ask-toolbar-with-the-java-installer

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Looking online for a generally accepted standard on the behaviors of spyware is difficult. An example of one is the "AntiSpyware Coalition" but their last "newsroom" update was in 2008.

Spyware generally attempts to install itself without your consent, and resists attempts to legitimately remove it.

The Java installer provides a check box allowing you to opt-out of Ask.com toolbar installation, and also, the uninstaller does cleanly remove the software (though I don't know if it resets default settings to the way they were before install). So by leaving the box checked and clicking Next in the installer you allowed the install.

I am not sure if the Ask.com toolbar collects personal information. It's possible that it does - I believe toolbars can collect things in relation to the browser, such as URLs you type, browsing history, etc. though you would have to study the provided APIs by Internet Explorer in regard to third-party browser extensions to be sure. Please note I do not know for a fact that the Ask.com toolbar does this. The Ask.com EULA that you agree to by clicking on may permit it, and you should read it (I haven't).

You just have to pay attention to the installer dialogs instead of blindly clicking through it.

Anyway, as others have mentioned, you can just remove it from Start -> Control Panel -> Programs and Features and it is gone.

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