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How to remove Tapsnake; CronDNS; Dubfishicv virus warning on Mac

Remove Tapsnake popup virus from macOS and prevent malicious scripts from running on random websites in Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

Update: October 2021

Threat Profile
Name Tapsnake popup virus
Category Fake alert, tech support scam, adware
Symptoms Displays fake popup warnings, reports threats that aren’t there, redirects web browser to phony alert pages, affects system performance
Distribution Techniques Fake Adobe Flash Player update popups, malware-riddled application bundles
Severity Level Medium
Damage Unwanted changes of browser preferences, financial losses, privacy issues due to Internet activity tracking, search redirects, ads above the fold
Removal Scan your Mac with Combo Cleaner to detect all files related to the popup virus. Use the tool to remove the infection if found.

The use of one piece of malware to distribute another is not uncommon in the computer threatscape. The Tapsnake issue exemplifies a tandem like that. Problems begin with an adware sample infiltrating a Mac. It is a low-severity infection that doesn’t pursue any particularly destructive goals, but its role in distributing opportunistic software is crucial. This pest affects the web browsing environment on the system in the following way: it randomly displays popups that say “Download Required” when the victim is visiting regular sites. The alerts insist that the user “download the Mackeeper application to remove Tapsnake” from their Mac. Some of the virus information indicated there includes the risk level (high) as well as the infected file (/os/apps/snake.icv).

Tapsnake popup alert on Mac

It’s noteworthy that this malvertising campaign underwent a tweak over time to enhance the scare element of the hoax. The new variant of the deceptive alert reports 3 viruses, rather than Tapsnake alone, that allegedly pose risk to the Mac. The list of pseudo threats now includes Tapsnake, CronDNS, and Dubfishicv. In order to pressure the victim further, the following line has been added to the fake warning: “Your Mac is heavily damaged! (33.2%)”. In this scenario, the entry covering the purported location of the infected files looks more detailed, saying: “/os/apps/hidden/os-component/X/snake.icv; /os/local/conf/keyboard/retype.icv”. A slightly modified replica of the alert lists different locations, namely: “/mac/apps/hidden/finder/X/snake.dmg; /mac/local/conf/keyboard/retype.dmg; /mac/remote/conf/services/CronDNS.dmg”.

Tapsnake, CronDNS, Dubfishicv fake virus alert pushing MacKeeper scareware

The download recommended in this shady fashion is not a genuine security tool for Mac OS X or newer macOS versions. It’s MacKeeper, a phony Mac system utility that has gained notoriety for its unparalleled vitality and large-scale distribution via multiple concurrent campaigns going on for years. The bogus alerts about the detection of Tapsnake, CronDNS, and Dubfishicv label this controversial app’s rating as 9.9/10 – this should be with the minus sign to align with the actual state of things. All in all, it makes sense breaking this issue down into components. The troublemaker that shows on the early stage of the breach is an adware, whose mission is to hijack the default web browser in order to redirect the traffic and generate misleading popup warnings. Fortunately, this problem is isolated to the browser for the most part, which makes it clear where to start with the fix.

In another twist of this malvertising campaign, the fake Tapsnake virus alerts have started pushing scareware other than MacKeeper. For instance, a redirect hoax forwarding victims to apple.com-guard-device.live and securingchecknow.casa landing pages has been promoting phony utilities called Cleanup My Mac and Mac Heal Pro, respectively. Both are spinoffs of the nasty Advanced Mac Cleaner pseudo optimizer. Just like their progenitor, the sketchy apps report imaginary issues with the system to convince the victim into registering their licensed edition. Overall, this recent wave follows the exact same logic as it used to, except that the harmful programs being distributed may vary.

By clicking the “Remove Virus Now” or “Remove Viruses Now” button on those spoof notifications, the user runs the risk of installing another type of malware. In the better case scenario, a worthless pseudo-antimalware app will end up on the Mac and flood the system with yet more rogue warnings. In summary, these virus alerts do not actually report any real Mac threats – instead, those are ads triggered by a corrupt browser plugin when users go to normal web pages. Consequently, Tapsnake, CronDNS, and Dubfishicv are not the bugs to get rid of. What needs to be removed is the adware that attempts to cause the brainwashing effect.

Tapsnake;CronDNS;Dubfishicv popup virus manual removal for Mac

The steps listed below will walk you through the removal of this malicious application. Be sure to follow the instructions in the specified order.

  1. Expand the Go menu in your Mac’s Finder bar and select Utilities as shown below.

    Go to Utilities

  2. Locate the Activity Monitor icon on the Utilities screen and double-click on it.

    Select the Activity Monitor

  3. In the Activity Monitor app, look for a process that appears suspicious. To narrow down your search, focus on unfamiliar resource-intensive entries on the list such as MacKeeper, Cleanup My Mac, or Mac Heal Pro. Keep in mind that its name isn’t necessarily related to the way the threat is manifesting itself, so you’ll need to trust your own judgement. If you pinpoint the culprit, select it and click on the Stop icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.

    Stop malicious process

  4. When a follow-up dialog pops up asking if you are sure you want to quit the troublemaking process, select the Force Quit option.

    Select the Force Quit option

  5. Click on the Go menu icon in the Finder again and select Go to Folder. You can as well use the Command-Shift-G keyboard shortcut.

    Use the Go to Folder feature

  6. Type /Library/LaunchAgents in the folder search dialog and click on the Go button.

    Open /Library/LaunchAgents folder

  7. Examine the contents of the LaunchAgents folder for dubious-looking items. Be advised that the names of files spawned by malware may give no clear clues that they are malicious, so you should look for recently added entities that appear to deviate from the norm.

    As an illustration, here are several examples of LaunchAgents related to mainstream Mac infections: com.mackeeper.MacKeeper.Helper.plist, com.CleanupMyMac.agent.plist, com.CMM.agent.plist, com.CleanupMyMac.cmmhlpr, com.CMM.cmmhlpr, com.MacHealPro.agent.plist, com.MHP.agent.plist, com.MacHealPro.mcphlpr, com.MHP.mcphlpr. If you spot files that don’t belong on the list, go ahead and drag them to the Trash.

    Root-level LaunchAgents folder contents

  8. Use the Go to Folder lookup feature again to navigate to the folder named ~/Library/Application Support (note the tilde symbol prepended to the path).

    Open ~/Library/Application Support folder

  9. When the Application Support directory is opened, identify recently generated suspicious folders in it and send them to the Trash. A quick tip is to look for items whose names have nothing to do with Apple products or apps you knowingly installed. A few examples of known-malicious folder names are MacKeeper, Cleanup My Mac, and Mac Heal Pro.

    Application Support folder contents

  10. Enter ~/Library/LaunchAgents string (don’t forget to include the tilde character) in the Go to Folder search area.

    Open ~/Library/LaunchAgents directory

  11. The system will display LaunchAgents residing in the current user’s Home directory. Look for dodgy items related to Tapsnake popup virus (see logic highlighted in subsections above) and drag the suspects to the Trash.

    Contents of LaunchAgents folder in user’s home directory

  12. Type /Library/LaunchDaemons in the Go to Folder search field.

    Go to /Library/LaunchDaemons

  13. In the LaunchDaemons path, try to pinpoint the files the malware is using for persistence. Several examples of such items cropped by Mac infections are com.pplauncher.plist, com.startup.plist, and com.ExpertModuleSearchDaemon.plist. Delete the sketchy files immediately.

    LaunchDaemons folder contents

  14. Click on the Go menu icon in your Mac’s Finder and select Applications on the list.

    Go to Applications screen on Mac

  15. Find the entry for MacKeeper, Cleanup My Mac, Mac Heal Pro, or another app that clearly doesn’t belong there and move it to the Trash. If this action requires your admin password for confirmation, go ahead and enter it.

    Drag malicious app to the Trash

  16. Expand the Apple menu and select System Preferences.

    Select System Preferences

    Open System Preferences

  17. Proceed to Users & Groups and click on the Login Items tab.

    Proceed to Users & Groups

    The system will display the list of items launched when the computer is starting up. Locate the potentially unwanted app there and click on the “-” (minus) button.

    Delete unwanted login item

  18. Now select Profiles under System Preferences. Look for a malicious item in the left-hand sidebar. Several examples of configuration profiles created by Mac adware include TechSignalSearch, MainSearchPlatform, AdminPrefs, and Chrome Settings. Select the offending entity and click on the minus sign at the bottom to eliminate it.

    Select Profiles under System Preferences

    Remove malicious configuration profile from Mac

    If your Mac has been infiltrated by adware, the infection will most likely continue to hold sway over your default web browser even after you remove the underlying application along with its components sprinkled around the system. Use the browser cleanup instructions below to address the remaining consequences of this attack.

Get rid of Tapsnake virus in web browser on Mac

To begin with, the web browser settings taken over by the Tapsnake virus should be restored to their default values. Although this will clear most of your customizations, web surfing history, and all temporary data stored by websites, the malicious interference should be terminated likewise. The overview of the steps for completing this procedure is as follows:

  1. Remove Tapsnake virus from Safari
    • Open the browser and go to Safari menu. Select Preferences in the drop-down list.

      Go to Preferences in Safari

    • Once the Preferences screen appears, click on the Advanced tab and enable the option saying “Show Develop menu in menu bar”.

      Advanced tab under Safari Preferences

    • Now that the Develop entry has been added to the Safari menu, expand it and click on Empty Caches.

      Empty Caches in Safari

    • Now select History in the Safari menu and click on Clear History in the drop-down list.

      Clear history in Safari

    • Safari will display a dialog asking you to specify the period of time this action will apply to. Select all history to ensure a maximum effect. Click on the Clear History button to confirm and exit.

      Select all history to clear

    • Go back to the Safari Preferences and hit the Privacy tab at the top. Find the option that says Manage Website Data and click on it.

      Manage Website Data option under Privacy tab

    • The browser will display a follow-up screen listing the websites that have stored data about your Internet activities. This dialog additionally includes a brief description of what the removal does: you may be logged out of some services and encounter other changes of website behavior after the procedure. If you’re okay with that, go ahead and click on the Remove All button.

      Confirmation dialog

    • Restart Safari
  2. Remove Tapsnake in Google Chrome
    • Open Chrome, click the Customize and control Google Chrome (⁝) icon in the top right-hand part of the window, and select Settings in the drop-down

      Chrome Settings

    • When on the Settings pane, select Advanced
    • Scroll down to the Reset settings section.

      Reset settings in Chrome on Mac

    • Confirm the Chrome reset on a dialog that will pop up. When the procedure is completed, relaunch the browser and check it for malware activity.

      Here’s how to reset settings in Chrome on Mac

  3. Remove Tapsnake from Mozilla Firefox
    • Open Firefox and go to Help – Troubleshooting Information (or type about:support in the URL bar and press Enter).

      Open Firefox and go to Help

      Select Troubleshooting Information

    • When on the Troubleshooting Information screen, click on the Refresh Firefox button.

      Refresh Firefox on Mac

    • Confirm the intended changes and restart Firefox.

Get rid of Tapsnake, CronDNS, Dubfishicv virus alerts using Combo Cleaner automatic removal tool

The Mac maintenance and security app called Combo Cleaner is a one-stop tool to detect and remove Tapsnake virus. This technique has substantial benefits over manual cleanup, because the utility gets hourly virus definition updates and can accurately spot even the newest Mac infections.

Furthermore, the automatic solution will find the core files of the malware deep down the system structure, which might otherwise be a challenge to locate. Here’s a walkthrough to sort out the Tapsnake issue using Combo Cleaner:

  1. Download Combo Cleaner installer. When done, double-click the combocleaner.dmg file and follow the prompts to install the tool onto your Mac.

    Download Combo Cleaner

    By downloading any applications recommended on this website you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. The free scanner checks whether your Mac is infected. To get rid of malware, you need to purchase the Premium version of Combo Cleaner.

  2. Open the app from your Launchpad and let it run the update of malware signature database to make sure it can identify the latest threats.
  3. Click the Start Combo Scan button to check your Mac for malicious activity as well as performance issues.

    Combo Cleaner Mac scan progress

  4. Examine the scan results. If the report says “No Threats”, then you are on the right track with the manual cleaning and can safely proceed to tidy up the web browser that may continue to act up due to the after-effects of the malware attack (see instructions above).

    Combo Cleaner scan report – no threats found

  5. In case Combo Cleaner has detected malicious code, click the Remove Selected Items button and have the utility remove Tapsnake threat along with any other viruses, PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), or junk files that don’t belong on your Mac.

    Combo Cleaner – threats found

  6. Once you have made doubly sure that the malicious app is uninstalled, the browser-level troubleshooting might still be on your to-do list. If your preferred browser is affected, resort to the previous section of this tutorial to revert to hassle-free web surfing.

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