Short bio

PUP.Optional.Ask is the detection name for the Ask toolbar, which is a browser extension that is frequently (and unintentionally) installed during installation of partner software. At one time, it was notably installed alongside Oracle’s Java installations. The Ask toolbar can come with an assortment of different adware, generally installed by default.  

Aside from adware, Ask is known for switching your default search provider to Ask.com, and will spawn pop-up messages to prevent you from reverting the changes.

Common infection method

The original toolbar was most commonly bundled with Oracle’s Java installations. APN toolbars are usually installed by the users themselves, although sometimes initiated by exaggerated promises of functionality, often claiming to be helpful with your hobbies and interests. There is a plethora of toolbars and Ask.com start pages on offer for those interested, but for a price.

To avoid getting infected with Ask toolbars:

  • Only download software from trusted sources. No matter how promising these programs appear, users are advised that they come with a price. 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.
  • In addition, please follow PUP avoidance tactics to prevent further infection by this PUP.


In most cases the built-in uninstallers and uninstall guides fail to completely remove this threat.

It usually takes a full threat scan with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and some additional tinkering to get back the user’s preferred browser settings.

Depending on the particular variant of the toolbar, there is likely going to be a specific removal guide you should follow. Please check out our removal guide forum to find your particular variant.

In addition, if you are still having troubles, please ask our malware removal specialists on this forum.

Associated threats

  • PUP.Optional.Ask.A
  • PUP.Optional.Ask.Gen
  • PUP.Optional.ASK.Generic
  • PUP.Optional.Mindspark


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