As Mac users, one of the benefits we enjoy is the ability to surf the web free from worrying about infection from malware or viruses. Many users don’t bother using antivirus software at all.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be wary of adware (software that automatically displays or downloads advertising material) or bloatware ourselves when we install other programs. With their latest release of Java 8, Oracle has begun packaging an Ask.com toolbar into their installer for Mac.
When installing the latest update of Java, the option to install the Ask.com Toolbar is selected by default. It is deceptively easy for the casual user to click “next” and finish the installation without noticing the opt-out section of the installer. If the extra software is installed, it redirects your homepage to Ask.com and instals a search bar to your browser, which some may find intrusive.
Though annoying as it is, the software is pretty easy to remove. Safari users can simply navigate to their list of browser extensions (Safari -> Preferences -> Extensions) to remove it. While Chrome users can uninstall the software directly from the Ask Toolbar’s Help menu.
While it is rather annoying to see Oracle adopt the practice of including adware with its products, it is not at all uncommon among many developers. As a rule of thumb, users should always keep an eye out for opt-out check boxes when installing third party software.