Short bio

PUP.Optional.APNToolbar refers to the Ask Partner Network (APN) toolbar, which is typically identified by the red Ask icon. It is a well-known browser hijacker that, over time, is replaced by the newer Mindspark toolbar.

Its EULA and Privacy Policy vary from software to software; however, they always clearly state their intentions.

Common infection method

PUP.Optional.APNToolbar is usually installed by the users themselves, who may be prompted by exaggerated promises of functionality. It provides toolbars and Ask.com start pages claiming to offer helpful tools for user hobbies and interests.

Avoidance advice:

  • Be vigilant when installing third-party applications.
  • Do some online checking before you decide to install any helpful toolbars and browser extensions.
  • Carefully reading the EULA and Privacy Policy, however tedious, can also help prevent unwanted consequences.
  • Read up on how to avoid potentially unwanted programs.


In most cases the built-in uninstallers and uninstall guides are far from complete. It usually takes a full threat scan with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and some additional tinkering to get back the users’ preferred browser settings.

As an example, a removal guide for the Search App by Ask can be found on our forums.

Associated threats

  • PUP.Optional.AskPartnerNetwork
  • PUP.Optional.AskAPN.Gen
  • PUP.Optional.APNToolbar.Gen


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