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Microsoft flags Ask toolbar as malicious, but the current version is safe

Microsoft flags Ask toolbar as malicious, but the current version is safe

by AshwinJune 15, 2015

Windows users will be aware of adware apps packed into the installation of legit apps.


In most cases the primary problem with these bundled adware apps, is that they offer to change the browser’s default homepage.

This is a way of browser hijacking. If you think that is dangerous, wait till you read this. In rare cases, adware apps are highly dangerous and may come with fake antivirus apps, trojans, malwares, keyloggers and other dangerous softwrae which could infect your computer, and may even steal user credentials.

Normally, antivirus apps and malware scanners protect the system from such apps, by flagging the adware apps as infections or Potentially Unwanted Programs. The security software either Quarantines the apps, or blocks them, or deletes them from the hard disk.

Sometimes you may not be able to change the homepage at all and may require either digging deep into the browser’s advanced settings to rectify the issue. Very often, it is not easy to remove such adware apps at all. And it may require special tools designed for this purpose.

One such infamous adware, is the Ask Toolbar. It is an app, which not only changes the homepage to, but also as the name suggests, installs the Ask toolbar in your browser.

The Ask toolbar, comes bundled with one of the most popular software packages in the World, Oracle’s Java. Many people install it accidentally, by forgetting to uncheck the option to install the Ask Toolbar.

The toolbar also used a shady move, in that it was only installed, a few minutes after the installation of the original app.

Guess how Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender treated the Ask toolbar?

Yes, you guessed it right. Both security tools from the Redmond company did not detect the Ask toolbar as malicious, until recently.

Microsoft flags Ask toolbar as malicious:

Lilliputing reports, that Microsoft’s security products now detect the Search App by Ask as malicious. The company details the Threat Behaviour of the Ask Toolbar extensively at the Microsoft Malware Protection Center website.

If you have the latest definitions for Windows Defender, or Microsoft Security Essentials, they will delete the Ask Search App, if it is found on your computer.

But, there is an exception. PCWorld observes that Microsoft only flags older versions of the app as malicious. The latest version of the app is reportedly safe.

Interestingly enough, Microsoft’s security tools do not detect the new toolbar in Oracle Java’s setup package. The software now comes with a toolbar, which changes the browser homepage, the new tab page and the search engine to Yahoo’s services.

This move really questions how Microsoft’s security software detect malicious apps.