Java’s recent security problems hasn’t stopped its smarmy practice of foisting the Ask-dot-com toolbar or McAfee’s Security Scanner on you every time you update Java. In case you didn’t notice, or were wondering how either of those products got installed on your computer, Java was the likely culprit. This wouldn’t be so bad, except the Java updater uses a trick called an “opt-out” checkbox which most people (who might be in too much of a hurry to get back to working|playing) just assume is part of the default Java update. If you actually look at what it’s asking you install, you’ll notice, “Hey, that’s not Java!”
What this means for you:
If you’ve been a diligent netizen, you probably heeded the countless warnings about the latest flaw in Java and updated it when Oracle released their patch last week. If you are a normal human being, you were probably frustrated with yet another series of dialog boxes filled with barely intelligible technobabble and progress meters creeping across the screen, and you might have accidentally left that checkbox checked, which means you are the proud new owner of a questionanbly useful toolbar from Ask-dot-com. Unless you’ve fallen in love with it (for some crazy reason), I’d recommend removing this software at once.
If you want to read more about why you should do this, have a look at the ZD Net article detailing Ask’s shady takeover of your browser. I’ve not had any personal experience with McAfee’s Security Scanner, but I’ve found just about all third-party browser security “scanners” to be at best, barely functional, and at worst, completely disruptive to normal, safe browsing. Let me know if you’ve had a positive experience with either product!