I’d like to talk to all of you about something known as ‘foistware.’
Essentially, this is when an otherwise legitimate application attempts to force a bunch of bloatware, spyware, and possibly even malware on its users, hiding unnecessary toolkits and addons with every download, every installation; every update.
It’s something we’ve been seeing happen a lot online lately.
But why worry, right? After all, it’s just lower-level developers pulling these underhanded, deceptive stunts, isn’t it? Surely larger devs and organizations would be more accountable to their customers. Surely larger application distributors wouldn’t attempt it?
You wish. Believe it or not, trying to force bloatware onto users is a disturbingly common trend, particularly among larger developers. Adobe once did it with virtually every product. Microsoft used to do it with Skype. Apple does it with iTunes. And Java does it with Oracle – to a degree that makes the other two look like absolute saints.
It’s so bad, in fact; that ZDnet on Tuesday crowned Java “the new king of foistware.” Of course, they also noted that, in addition; its security features are about as effective as a screen door on a tank.
One of the worst pieces of crapware piggybacking on the Java installation is the Ask toolbar. Pretty much everything about it screams adware – and it even takes a number of unethical measures which honestly border on malicious.
For one, if you install it by accident, the installer hangs for ten minutes before dropping its payload on the system – it does basically everything in its power to make the installation difficult to prevent.
The uninstall process is a similarly tiresome affair. It hijacks address bar search, takes over default search, and seizes control of address bar handling. Whenever you carry out a search with this piece of trash installs, it takes you to IAC Mywebsearch: a website which features poor results, ads that don’t fit with industry standards and a great deal of additional adware installations.
Oh, it also installs a browser toolbar – and those are always bad news.
Why does Oracle try to dump such a terrible abomination of an app on its users? Basically, they’re in it for the money – they get paid royalties for each toolbar that’s installed.
The whole process stinks: it’s underhanded, and unethical, and you’re probably better off skipping Java’s automatic update process and going straight to Ninite.