How do I remove ask.com as my default search engine?
Imagine opening your browser and seeing that your preferred search engine has changed to ask.com. Unfortunately, this means that you’ve most likely installed a potentially unwanted program (PUP). Although ask.com is a legitimate company, it can still have malicious traits and cause issues.
Browser hijackers use its browser extension to create revenues. More precisely, this PUP can act as a data thief. It can potentially collect and sell your data to third parties. Therefore, you might want to know how to remove the Ask search engine.
In this article, we will focus on what the ask.com search engine is, why you are seeing it, and what symptoms reveal you’ve been infected by it. Also, we’ll teach you how to remove ask.com and how to protect your device from it in the future.
What is ask.com search engine browser hijacker?
As you might already know, ask.com is not really malware. In fact, it is a legitimate company and search engine that works on the principle of question-answering. This company was founded in 1996, and 35 million monthly visitors still use it. According to similarweb.com, ask.com is ranked 12th in the list of similar sites, including Google, Bing, Yandex, etc.
However, even though it is a fairly popular search engine, ask.com does have some malicious traits. Threat actors use this search engine to route hijacked browsers’ traffic through ask.com. As a result, this helps them make huge revenues.
In addition, the ask.com extension can also be distributed just like some other malware – through bundling. Bundling is a malware distribution method when malicious programs, like ask.com, come with unreliable free software. For example, you can install it together with a dubious MP3 converter or video streaming app.
When installing this free app, you might not pay enough attention to the process. As we are all aware, most people just rush through the steps and don’t notice that they agreed to install a potentially unwanted program (PUP) on their device, such as ask.com, in this case.
Luckily, PUPs are quite easy to remove from devices and browsers. But we’ll focus on that a bit later. For now, let’s get a more in-depth look at what is ask.com.
|The usual search engine is changed to ask.com;
More than usual ads or sponsored content;
Search results appear on Ask even if you query over other search engines, such as Google or Bing;
Slower device performance
|Annoying browsing experience
Similar malware examples to ask.com search engine
You may be surprised how many examples are similar to ask.com. One of the most similar cases is the bing.com case, in which threat actors used this legitimate search engine and implemented it for malicious purposes.
Why am I seeing ask.com search engine?
If one day you come across ask.com as your search engine, this means that you’ve most probably downloaded it as a PUP, together with some free software. When downloading software, you’re mainly focusing on the main program but might not notice that there is additional software that comes bundled with it.
Sometimes, it can also appear as a browser extension. It most likely got on your device in a similar way – through a bundled installation, but appears on your device as a browser extension.
Ask alters your browser’s settings by changing the homepage to ask.com and the default search engine to search.ask.com. It also causes redirect issues and adds quick links to different websites – all without your consent.
How to delete ask.com search engine
Now that you are aware of what ask.com is and what it does, we’ve come to the main part – how to remove ask.com search engine. We’ll present you with 4 different methods – remove the malicious software, remove the browser extension, reset the browser settings, and run a full system scan. So, let’s not waste time and see how to remove the ask.com PUP!
Remove potentially malicious software
If you noticed that ask.com appeared after you installed some free software, it is very likely that this is the main reason. Free software can sometimes come with malware or bundled with other PUPs, like Ask. Here’s how to remove Ask from your device manually.
- Launch your device’s Control Panel from the search bar
- Navigate to the Programs tab that will appear in the Control Panel
- Find a potentially malicious, dubious-looking app and right-click on it
- Delete it by clicking Uninstall
However, if you can’t remove the PUP because it’s open, you might need to force quit it through the Task Manager. Let’s see how you can do this:
- In the search bar, type Task Manager and click on it
- In the Task Manager, find the PUP you never intended to install and right-click on it
- Choose the End task option. This will close the app, and you will be able to remove it from your device – go back to the first steps
Remove ask.com browser extension
Sometimes, you can find ask.com as an extension in your browser’s toolbar. Luckily, you can remove it quite easily. Even better, the steps provided below will be very similar across most browsers. So, let’s see how to remove the ask.com browser extension:
- Click on the three dots or the three lines in the upper right corner of your browser’s window
- Find Extensions and navigate to the option to Manage extensions
- In the new window, you will see all your extensions. Choose the ask.com and remove it by clicking on the Remove button
- Confirm it once again, and the extension should be gone
Reset browser settings
Sometimes, it’s not that easy to remove extensions. In this case, we recommend resetting the browser altogether. Here is how you can do this in no time:
- Launch the browser and, again, go to the browser’s menu at the top right corner
- Find Settings and click on it
- In the new window, navigate to Reset settings and select it
- Here, you’ll see only one option. Click again on Reset settings to confirm. This will reset browser settings and will get the browser back to its default settings
Run a full antivirus scan
In order to be sure any unwanted programs are removed, we advise you to install a reliable antivirus program that will protect your device at all times. Let’s see the steps you should follow:
- Download a reputable antivirus solution. We strongly recommend TotalAV
- Run a full scan, as the quick scan might not catch most of the malware
- After this, make sure to enable real-time protection to protect your device from malware at all times
How can I protect my device against ask.com hijacker?
Although not generally harmful, ask.com is one of many forms of PUPs that cause a nuisance and can invade your privacy. With digital threats being on the rise, it's crucial to protect your device. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to protect your system against the ask.com hijacker as well as any other potential cyber threats:
- Pay attention to the installation process. As the ask.com PUP mostly comes bundled when downloading free software, you need to be careful during the installation process. Do not rush through it – most of the time, installation indicates that it wants you to install additional software.
- Avoid downloading free software. If possible, do not download cracked software or free programs that should be paid for. In case you come across such software, be aware that it might be malicious. These software include MP3 converters, movie media, torrenting files, etc. It’s better to go for a legitimate one and pay rather than risk your online safety.
- Don’t visit unreliable sites. A huge percentage of cyberattacks happen because people open unreputable sites and click on dubious links. Try not to visit such sites, or at least do not click on links on suspicious sites. Unintentionally downloading malware on your device can be only one click away.
- Install a reputable antivirus program. Having antivirus software with real-time protection will change your overall browsing experience. More precisely, you’ll enjoy better safety, receive information about different cyber threats, and prevent malicious software from damaging your device. Make sure you choose a reputable antivirus provider, like TotalAV, for the best possible protection.
Ask.com is a generally safe search engine that is based on questions and answers. However, data thieves often use it to hijack your browser. Besides, the Ask search engine can appear on your system without your consent. If you’re not careful while browsing, opening suspicious sites, or downloading free software, the chances of getting this PUP are quite big. This can lead to a rather annoying online experience.
Luckily, by implementing some of the methods we provided, you will be able to remove the ask.com search engine from your device in no time and protect your device in the future. It’s best to use a reliable antivirus program, such as TotalAV, that will provide high-end protection around the clock!
More malware removal guides from Cybernews:
Why is Chrome using ask.com?
Chrome is redirecting to ask.com because you have a browser highjacker installed on your device. This can happen through installing a free software or browser extension.
How do I remove ask.com as my default search engine?
You can remove the ask.com search engine by deleting the malicious program or the browser extension, resetting the browser settings, and running a full device scan with a reputable antivirus app, such as TotalAV.
Why is my default search engine ask.com?
Your default search engine is ask.com because a potentially malicious browser extension or program has been installed on your device. This usually occurs if you click on suspicious links or download cracked software. It’s best to remove it with a powerful antivirus software like TotalAV.