You may be familiar with a screen that appears on your computer when you install a Java update that asks if you would like to install the ask.com search application. I am sure that your are familiar with this as we see it on many of our customer's computers.
This week it appears as if Microsoft has decided to consider the ask.com search application malware... http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/microsoft-now-considers-the-dreaded-ask-toolbar-to-be-malware/
Lets start from the beginning...
Java is a programming language which allows programs to run within your browser when you are on the internet. It may allow games, video applications or provide a form from which you enter data to name a very few of these programs. It is widely used and sometimes a required program. I have issues with it due to the fact that it is a pain to use. It is so susceptible to hackware that in order to use it you have to go through many steps to change the default security configuration to run the application that uses Java. Java is written and maintained by Oracle.
The real grind is that when you update Java, which is often, you are given the screen similar to the above image inviting you to install this "best of the web" search add on from ask.com. Most people don't know that they are getting the ask.com toolbar installed when they upgrade Java. By default it installs unless you uncheck the install the ask.com toolbar. I am sure that Oracle receives a small dividend from ask.com every time this is installed on your computer or they wouldn't recommend it so highly.
It may be a stretch to call the ask.com toolbar malware. However it is another program which takes up disk drive space, loads every time you start your browser and is another potential target for hackers. This is unfortunately another reason why people's computer run so slow.
What can you do? First, always be vigilant and watch for programs which want to install stuff on your computer. These companies are looking out for their interests, not yours. Also, from time to time, go through your computer and uninstall programs that you don't use or don't recognize. If you need it again, you can simply reinstall it.