Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Java Microsoft Security IT

Ask Toolbar Now Considered Malware By Microsoft 212

AmiMoJo writes: Last month Microsoft changed its policy on protecting search settings to include any software that attempts to hijack searches as malware. As a result, this month the Ask Toolbar, which most people will probably recognize as being unwanted crapware bundled with Java, was marked as malware and will now be removed by Microsoft's security software built in to Windows 7 and above.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Toolbar Now Considered Malware By Microsoft

Comments Filter:
  • bundle (Score:5, Funny)

    by sirber ( 891722 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @07:48AM (#49890255)
    will java be also removed since it's bundeled with ask toolbar?
    • Re:bundle (Score:5, Informative)

      by gcnaddict ( 841664 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:39AM (#49890683)
      Getting there. Microsoft released a no-install version of Java bundled with Minecraft recently, so you can still play Minecraft without actually needing to hook Java into everything.
      • Re:bundle (Score:5, Informative)

        by robmv ( 855035 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:56AM (#49890809)

        That is something Minecraft developers could have done years ago. The binary license of the JRE allows it to be bundled with an application for private use of that application.

        When redistributing the JRE on Microsoft Windows as a private application runtime (not accessible by other applications) with a custom launcher, the following files are also optional. These are libraries and executables that are used for Java support in Internet Explorer and Mozilla family browsers; these files are not needed in a private JRE redistribution.

        from the Java 8 README [oracle.com]

      • by DrXym ( 126579 )
        That no-install version of Java is just a JRE and lots of apps bundle up a copy. It just took Mojang / Microsoft an inordinately long time to get around to doing it themselves.
      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        They should've used Excelsior JET instead.

    • Re:bundle (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:56AM (#49890807)

      This article is useless without a video of the director of Ask Software, five seconds after he heard the news.

      Good fucking riddance.

    • Java will never be removed. However the plugin model used by Java (NPAPI) is being phased out completely, so that it won't even run on browsers. The same can be said for Flash and Shockwave plugins using that same NPAPI plugin model.

      It hurts right now, but like going to the doctor to remove a big tumor, short term pain results in a healthier system.

      • My wife had a thing for work that needed the Java browser plugin. Her work had solidly banned it so she came to me and asked if I could get it to work. I tried to explain that she basically wanted me to have a dump into my machine. But I took a snapshot of an existing windows test VM, installed it, did her thing, and then reverted to the previous java free snapshot.
      • It hurts right now, but like going to the doctor to remove a big tumor, short term pain results in a healthier system.

        So, like dumping Windows then!

    • will java be also removed since it's bundeled with ask toolbar?

      Avast tells me a couple of times a week that my GWT Developer plugin is a virus even though I tell it every time to ignore the warning and allow the plugin to run.

      • It's not far wrong. GWT is a plague, even if it's not technically malware per se.
        • It's not far wrong. GWT is a plague, even if it's not technically malware per se.

          What would be the preferable technology to use instead of GWT?

    • Re:bundle (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @01:46PM (#49893393)

      I'm hoping they will automatically uninstall Chrome as well, since it somehow manages to reinstall itself surreptitiously so often. So many third party programs will install it during an update if you're not paying attention to which boxes to uncheck; and I know every time I go visit my mother she'll be asking about what this Chrome thing is and how to get rid of it. Most often it's the anti-malware software that puts that shit there, which is ironic since I consider anything being installed without my explicit permission to be malware. It should get rid of googlebar or whatever that's called, and all other opt-out software.

    • Ask Toolbar is no Longer bundled with Java.

      It's Bundled with Yahoo now.

      Not sure if McAfee Security Scan is still in the mix.

      • The McAffee thing is still in Flash as of yesterday (I installed it accidentally.) Not sure if it is or was ever in Java.
    • how about removing that nag-ware that reminds to update java version, can't disable in 64 bit. Some people require a certain java version for their work.....

  • Hmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I feel there's a word that's appropriate... hypo... hypocr.... oh, MS Word told me the word I'm looking for is "hyper". Yep, what a bunch of hypers.

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JMJimmy ( 2036122 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:25AM (#49890565)

      Yup. The effing bing bar is something I delete on a weekly basis from several machines. Granted it's also stupid user syndrome.

      • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 11, 2015 @09:31AM (#49891113)

        What is the smallest browser space you have ever seen remaining? Once at a friends house I asked to use the internet and half the screen vertically plus around 1/10 horizontally was taken up by various "toolbars". I'd never even seen a horizontal one before that day.

        • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

          by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @09:45AM (#49891235)

          I experience that with my wife. She's got a reasonably nice desktop for doing what she does (nothing important) but complains it runs slow. It was screaming fast once upon a time, so I go and run and rerun all the anti-virus software and malware removers, remove have the extensions that have installed themselves, reboot a few times in the process, and it's screaming fast again. The most toolbars I've counted was at least 6, and the search is almost always stuck on something undesirable.

          • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

            by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @12:01PM (#49892405)

            The most toolbars I've counted was at least 6

            Amateur [noahcoad.com]

            • Oh man I remember that AltaVista bar. I really really liked that one. That was the one and only useful search bar. It was useful not only because back in the day AltaVista was the best search engine but also because of the translate button which is the only reason I still use AltaVista from time to time and a pretty damn good ad blocker.

          • I experience that with my wife. She's got a reasonably nice desktop for doing what she does (nothing important)

            other than looking for a better husband.

          • Bought my wife a Chromebook. Haven't looked back (or had to do the above) since.

            • Yes, Google does an excellent job of ensuring they're the only ones tracking your web behavior and feeding you ads.

          • My wife seems to be pretty good about avoiding those kinds of issues. What she does instead though is open every dumblink that she might possibly want to read later in a new tab or window. But then she apparently never goes back and reads any of it, or reads them and leaves them open for referencing from latter. She complains about her computer slowing down and I go look at it and she'll have dozens of tabs and windows going all at once.

        • by Khyber ( 864651 )

          I've managed to get the browser window as small as 128x96 with a fuckton of toolbars and BHOs.

      • Yup. The effing bing bar is something I delete on a weekly basis from several machines. Granted it's also stupid user syndrome.

        At issue is the fact that by using the Ask.com toolbar, you give click profit to Ask.com instead of Microsoft through the Bing toolbar. I question the legality of declaring something malware because it eats into your competing products profits.

  • Flashback time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @07:54AM (#49890291)
    When people called me, having trouble with their browsers, and there were about 15 or more toolbars taking up their entire screen. And ask was always there, sometime multiple times.

    Anything that installs a toolbar in your browser is malware.

    • Re:Flashback time (Score:5, Informative)

      by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @07:57AM (#49890319) Journal

      When people called me, having trouble with their browsers, and there were about 15 or more toolbars taking up their entire screen. And ask was always there, sometime multiple times. Anything that installs a toolbar in your browser is malware.

      Ditto. That's usually one of the first questions I ask, and most people have no idea how it even got on their machine. I tell them "they aren't giving you this toolbar to be nice, they're giving it to you so they can control your searches and sell you stuff."

    • Re:Flashback time (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@noSpam.world3.net> on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:16AM (#49890475) Homepage

      What got them in the end was that they screwed with the user's search settings. Toolbars are a supported feature of Internet Explorer, but apps are not supposed to screw up search settings in the registry.

      Doing so generates warning prompts on Windows, but because the user was already clicking through those to install Java they probably didn't notice an extra one for Ask.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:45AM (#49890735)

      Everybody I know has multiple toolbars on their internet. None of them has problems with malware. I even specifically asked the ask toolbar whether or not it was malware, and it said (and I quote) "that's ridiculous".

    • I know, right. No mater how many handy little search bars I install on peoples systems, someone will always call me to solve their shitty little problems. The search thing is right there, people! Use it.
  • One down... (Score:5, Funny)

    by daedalus2097 ( 245514 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @07:58AM (#49890333) Homepage

    1,753,378 to go.

  • by Eloking ( 877834 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:00AM (#49890353)

    Great, but how about marking as malware every bundled software that come with an installer? It doesn't seem complicated to me, it I install SomeProgram.exe then any other software unrelated to SomeProgram.exe should be marked as malware and removed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Great, but how about marking as malware every bundled software that come with an installer? It doesn't seem complicated to me, it I install SomeProgram.exe then any other software unrelated to SomeProgram.exe should be marked as malware and removed.

      I think if you do it right you're correct. There could be a legitimate case of one program relying on another that this would screw up.

      Pop up message. I see you just installed someprogram.exe at the same time weirdprogram.exe also installed. Do you want to keep weirdprogram?

  • Ahhh... Toolbars! (Score:5, Informative)

    by neilo_1701D ( 2765337 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:01AM (#49890359)

    I always remember this [linux-noob.com] image of IE7 stuffed with toolbars. A similar test was done on Windows XP [linux-noob.com].

    In the case of IE7, this was done as a test to see if the reset function would work correctly. It did. [windows-noob.com]

    • Oh my god, MyWebSearch...I had almost forgotten about those douchebags. There was a time about 3-4 years ago where I was removing it from some secretary's computer every week. "But I like the smilies!" "Not on a corporate machine you don't. Stop it."
  • by OneSmartFellow ( 716217 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:09AM (#49890419)
    loading all this crap was tolerated by Microsoft because it was the main impetus for people buying new PCs.

    Now that Android is taking over the personal OS landscape, and PC sales are dropping, MS doesn't gain as much as they used to, and now actually feels the pain from allowing this to happen, they decide to remove them.
  • by bluegutang ( 2814641 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:11AM (#49890439)

    at this pace, within a couple years I'll like Microsoft more than I like Mozilla.

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:15AM (#49890455) Homepage

    Good. It is malware. I can't think of a browser toolbar that I wouldn't consider to be malware to some degree. Has anyone in the past 5 years intentionally installed one of those things? My impression is that they only ever get installed because someone wasn't paying enough attention when they installed some crappy piece of software, and it was bundled in.

    • It really hasn't been necessary to have a browser toolbar since search was integrated into the main UI for basically all modern browsers. I briefly had a Google toolbar intentionally installed 5+ years ago, but now I just have my search provider set to Google and I never even thought about a toolbar since. I've removed a lot of them from friends and family PC's though.
    • I've seen people install the Google toolbar because they thought that was how to use Google... I've removed it a lot as well.

  • Whack a mole (Score:5, Insightful)

    by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:40AM (#49890691) Homepage Journal
    All the "negative checkoff" (click NOT to install) and all the (CNET downloads.com e.g.) sites where banner ads mislead to click on them rather than the download file button you are looking for should be treated as malware, starting a long time ago.
  • All toolbars are malware, what is the big deal. I took user install rights away, because of toolbars. They were just causing to many problems.

  • by Geeky ( 90998 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @08:45AM (#49890737)

    Annoying Oracle can't be a bad thing. I can't believe they bundle it when Java is needed for so many enterprise apps - surely the reputational damage is worth more than the revenue from bundling the toolbar? It makes them look cheap and certainly not enterprise.

    So yeah, good for Microsoft. They're doing some good things these days. Perhaps a bit like IBM when they were knocked off of their perch, MS now realise they need to actually produce good products and play nicer with customers.

    • by flink ( 18449 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @10:08AM (#49891457)

      Annoying Oracle can't be a bad thing. I can't believe they bundle it when Java is needed for so many enterprise apps - surely the reputational damage is worth more than the revenue from bundling the toolbar? It makes them look cheap and certainly not enterprise.

      If you download the "server" JRE (actually it's a full JDK, I don't know why they label it that way), it comes as a simple tarball. It doesn't interact with the registry, doesn't install the browser plugin -- it's just full JDK distribution. I'm guessing they are locked into a multi-year co-marketing deal with Ask for the consumer distribution. I always just download the server version, unzip, and add C:\jdk1.x.y_z to my PATH and I'm done.

    • by ImprovOmega ( 744717 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @10:30AM (#49891651)
      If you just run a silent install of the offline installer it doesn't install ASK either. Granted getting to the offline installer is not exactly obviously presented on their download page, but it is available. And corporations have been using that for years.
    • I can only deduce that Oracle is under some sort of licensing agreement with Ask that was written back when Java belonged to Sun. An agreement that forces them to bundle in the Ask toolbar with Java downloads. Anything other than that makes Oracle look really bad. I could see if Oracle was giving away their software for free and Ask was some sort of way for them to pay the bills. But that is hardly the case here.

      Come on Oracle - ditch the cheesy toolbar. Let's all be adult about this.

  • YOUR INTRUSIVE WINDOWS UPDATE!

    The latest batch of updates magically moved Microsoft Office Upload Center startup configuration from msconfig/regedit entries TO THE DAMN TASK SCHEDULER! WTF?!

    </rant>

    I praise them for the rare use case where they use this intrusive omni-present program for good. This is four times, that I remember, in the last year that they have done a sweeping removal of malware with Windows Update

    • by Joe U ( 443617 )

      The task scheduler is the preferred method for launching tasks now.It's a robust unified interface with logging capabilities and error handling.

      I can see the old registry entries being ignored in the future with the ability for the OS to detect and create tasks when an installer tries to write to them.

  • Yay. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Demonoid-Penguin ( 1669014 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @09:05AM (#49890885) Homepage

    Ask finally got what it's been asking for all along

    Next up - McAffee.

    Then Java, then Ffflash. I can see we're gunna need a longer wall. And maybe a conveyor belt.

  • The Skype installer and updater bundles software that sets and attempts to maintain homepages and default search to Bing.
  • I gotta say. It's about time. I've been stripping that piece-of-crap browser hijacker out of just about every machine I see. Oracle should be horsewhipped for partnering with those Ask Toolbar assholes.
  • SourceForge (Score:4, Funny)

    by Parker Lewis ( 999165 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @12:11PM (#49892481)
    If Oracle removes Ask toolbar from Java Installer, can SourceForge provide us one version with Ask added back?
  • This is not malware at all. No ones being fooled into installing it. You have to read and if you don't read that's YOUR fault. I'm pretty sure MS going to get sued and MS will loose because its not tricking anyone into installing it and if you don't read the agreement that again is YOUR faults. Ask did install this toolbar without permission in the past and they get sued for it too so im not sticking up that. Is Ask is a good trustworthy business? No they are not, that is a fact. but in this case Ask isn't
  • No matter who prevails, you still have to live with a rabid victor.
  • by Chalnoth ( 1334923 ) on Thursday June 11, 2015 @05:47PM (#49894953)

    It looks like this only applies to older versions of the Ask toolbar. According to the link in the post, "The latest version of this application is not detected by our objective criteria, and is not considered unwanted software."

    I do hope that their "objective criteria" will help to keep the Ask toolbar from being quite as annoying as it was, however.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein

Working...