What is Adware?
Adware is basically intrusive software that gets installed on your machine and causes your web browser to load advertisements, pop-ups, inline-text advertisements, and sometimes change your default search engine. Some examples of more common adware on Macs include Conduit, Mackeeper and Trovi (which actually uses Conduit).
Adware generally isn't as malicious as Malware because they don't include things like backdoors, key loggers and other methods that could be used to obtain your personal information but they can still be very annoying.
How did it get on my computer?
It is most common for adware to get installed on your machine by piggybacking off another installer or application downloaded from a deceitful site or untrusted source. However, inadvertently clicking certain links designed to exploit vulnerabilities in your web browser can also spread adware. Additionally, some "free streaming" sites are also known to spread unwanted adware on your system among other things.
The Java installer program is a common example of bundled adware. The Ask Toolbar really isn't anything that anybody ever wants ever, but most people will just click next until the installer is finished. From that point on you have the Ask Toolbar cluttering up your browser and (probably) creating unwanted pop-up advertisements.
How do I remove it?
If your computer is already infected there are a few different methods you can use to remove the adware. However, we found that the easiest and most thorough way to go about removing adware is to use a tool called AdwareMedic!
AdwareMedic is a nifty program used to remove known adware from your computer after a quick scan. The only drawback to using this program is that it will only work on newer versions of OS X (10.7 or later)
If you are running OS X 10.6 or earlier you will need to use some of the manual removal methods to get the adware off your computer. The manual removal process is a bit more in-depth but it does work! For instructions on how to manually remove adware please see this article.
If all else fails, you can always stop by the IT office and we would be happy to try and clear it up for you!