Oracle’s now dumping Java crapware bundles on your Mac, too

7 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ask.com Crapware Added to Mac OS X Java Installations.

Should you use Java? Similar to the Windows version, Java for OS X now attempts to install the Ask toolbar during the setup process, and also tries to set Ask.com as the default browser homepage.In this case it’s Mac users who are up in arms after the company started bundling adware into the installers of Java runtime, itself a program that seems to need patching more often than a three-year-old’s security blanket.Mac fans now have one more thing in common with their Windows-using bosses: their Oracle Java updates now try to smuggle in Ask’s browser toolbar crapware. If you don’t need it, don’t install it; plenty of Java exploits and vulnerabilities can really make your day unpleasant, not to mention the crapware that Oracle puts on your system whenever you go to install Java.

Windows users have been complaining about this for years, especially as the main offering tends to be the installation of the Ask Jeeves toolbar, a search engine so far behind in the marketplace that it had just 0.12 percent of the global search market in February, according to Netmarketshare. There’s also a McAfee security scan that tells you that you really ought to buy McAfee security, while the Jeevesian toolbar provides a bunch of sponsored results and meddles with your homepage and default settings. Windows users of the Java desktop runtime have fended off the toolbar for years, and quite why moneybags Oracle feels the need to include the thing is baffling to say the least.

Windows users can try Unchecky, which automatically unticks every box during installation so you have to pay attention to what you’re agreeing to, but we’re not aware of an equivalent for Mac. With Lenovo’s Superfish incident fresh in our memories, it seems that we still, in 2015, can’t escape the corporate desire to fill our computers with junk. [ZDNet via Engadget] Those who don’t pay close attention when installing, however, will get the (potentially) unwanted Askware and a homepage takeover with their Java update. Users that typically fly through the software installation process or those that aren’t terribly tech savvy likely won’t realize they’ve agreed to install Ask until after the fact.

After ensuring the desired programs are selected, click the Next button to continue the installation.” It’s also worth pointing out that, as reported on ZDNet, Oracle is getting $883m in traffic acquisition fees as a result of this little arrangement in Windows. Aside from tracking your browsing history and serving up crummy search results littered with ads, there isn’t yet any evidence to suggest the Ask app is malicious in nature. While the toolbar is fairly easy to remove—the Help menu in the Chrome version leads directly to a page with uninstall instructions—many users clearly don’t bother. The company behind Ask Jeeves also owns Match.com, Tinder, OKCupid, The Daily Beast, Vimeo, Dictionary.com, and HomeAdvisor, so watch out for potential drivelware from them too. But in light of the recent Superfish crapware scandal from Lenovo, Java has picked a pretty poor time to fight for extra cash for the yacht building fund. µ

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to remove the toolbar through either the extensions menu or the toolbar’s own help menu depending on which browser you’re using. As Engadget notes, Oracle’s decision to bundle crapware with Java has led to 20,000+ signature online petition that asks the company to reconsider its decision—a petition that’s been alive for more than two years, we should note. “It is demeaning for a respected corporation such as Oracle to resort to such techniques only to make a small profit. Ask Toolbar hijacks user’s default search engine and forwards them to Ask search engine which resorts to various misleading advertisement techniques in order to confuse the unsuspecting users into clicking on their paid ads,” reads the petition.

While the integration of Ask.com software into the Java installation program might not rise to the level of, say, a Lenovo Superfish incident, it’s still unfortunate to see Oracle doubling down on adware.

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