Remove Tapsnake popup virus from Mac OS X and prevent malicious scripts from running on random websites in Safari, Chrome and Firefox.
Update: October 2019
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).
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”.
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 order specified.
- Open up the Utilities folder as shown below
- Locate the Activity Monitor icon on the screen and double-click on it
- Under Activity Monitor, find MacKeeper, Cleanup My Mac, Mac Heal Pro or some other item that appears suspicious, select it and click Quit Process
- A dialog should pop up, asking if you are sure you would like to quit the troublemaking process. Select the Force Quit option
- Expand the Go menu in Apple Finder and select Go to Folder
- Type or paste the following string in the folder search dialog: /Library/LaunchAgents
- Once the LaunchAgents directory opens up, find the following entry in it and move it to the Trash:
- Use the Go to Folder lookup feature again to navigate to the folder named ~/Library/LaunchAgents. When this path opens, look for the same entries (see above) and send them to Trash
- Click the Go button again, but this time select Applications on the list. Find the entry for MacKeeper, Cleanup My Mac, Mac Heal Pro on the interface, right-click on it and select Move to Trash. If user password is required, go ahead and enter it
- Now go to Apple Menu and pick the System Preferences option
- Select Accounts and click the Login Items button. The system will come up with the list of the items that launch when the box is started up. Locate MacKeeper, Cleanup My Mac, Mac Heal Pro or other potentially unwanted app there and click on the “-“ button
Get rid of Tapsnake, CronDNS, Dubfishicv virus popups in web browser on Mac
To begin with, settings for the web browser that got hit by the Tapsnake, CronDNS, Dubfishicv adware should be restored to their default values. The overview of steps for this procedure is as follows:
- Reset Safari
- Open the browser and go to Safari menu. Select Preferences in the drop-down list
- Once the Preferences screen appears, hit the Privacy tab at the top. Find the option that says Remove All Website Data and click on it
- The system will display a confirmation dialog that also includes a brief description of what the reset does. Specifically, 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 the Remove Now button
- In order to selectively clear data generated by certain websites only, not all of them, hit the Details button under the Privacy section of Safari Preferences
- This feature will list all websites that have stored potentially sensitive data, including cache and cookies. Select the one, or ones, that might be causing trouble and click the appropriate button at the bottom (Remove or Remove All). Click the Done button to exit.
- Open the browser and go to Safari menu. Select Preferences in the drop-down list
- Reset Google Chrome
- Open Chrome, click the More (⁝) icon in the top right-hand part of the window, and select Settings in the drop-down
- When on the Settings pane, select Advanced
- Scroll down to the Reset settings section. Under the Restore settings to their original defaults option, click the Reset settings button
- 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.
- Reset Mozilla Firefox
- Open Firefox and select Help – Troubleshooting Information
- On the page that opened, click the Reset Firefox button
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:
- Download Combo Cleaner installer . When done, double-click the combocleaner.dmg file and follow the prompts to install the tool onto your Mac.
- 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.
- Click the Start Combo Scan button to check your Mac for malicious activity as well as performance issues.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
Originally, Tapsnake was a primitive strain of spyware targeting mobile devices. It was a booby-trapped version of a once popular game called Snake. When installed, the infection – disguised as a legit fun app – would furtively transmit the victim’s GPS location details to a remote server at predefined intervals. Note that the actual perpetrating program was in the wild almost a decade ago and is no longer in rotation.
The pest’s codename “Tapsnake” was revived by a cybercrime group perpetrating massive malvertising campaigns from around 2015 onwards. Years after the real outbreak, it turned into a scare element of rogue software distribution stratagems. The operators of these hoaxes have been using its name, along with CronDNS and Dubfishicv imaginary threats, to fool Mac users into installing and buying paid versions of scareware applications such as Advanced Mac Cleaner, Mac Keeper, Cleanup My Mac, Mac Heal Pro, and more.
This trio is part of a large-scale malvertising wave aimed at coercing Mac users into installing and purchasing bogus system maintenance and antivirus software. The manipulation is a multi-stage process commencing with a “Download Required” popup warning shown on a malicious or compromised web page. This alert states that a high-risk virus called Tapsnake has been detected on the Mac and tells the user to run a scan and thus get the big picture. The phony Mac scan routine reports additional viruses, namely CronDNS and Dubfishicv, and recommends the victim to install and activate a “cleaner’ that’s scareware in disguise.
There continues to be a great deal of controversy regarding this question, even after the myth about virus-proof Mac has been debunked. Let’s face it: Macs do get infected with quite a few forms of malicious code ranging from low-impact adware to ransomware. Although the system boasts strong defenses overall, the risk of the user unwittingly authorizing some fishy installation always exists and shouldn’t be underestimated. That’s the way a vast majority of Mac infections infiltrate systems these days. A benign-looking freeware bundle plus a lack of vigilance on the user’s end – equals a contamination in many cases.
Given that Mac viruses are here to stay and the cybercriminals’ distribution toolkit is being constantly fine-tuned, virus protection on computers running macOS is an obvious necessity. By using an antivirus tool, you get an extra layer of protection enhancing the built-in security features.
No, it’s not – that’s the answer that makes the most sense. Although MacKeeper may actually be able to detect some performance, privacy and security issues on a Mac, the unethical spreading tactics and totally exaggerated scan reports are on the minus side of the app making it a fake utility you should avoid.
In regards to the distribution, MacKeeper is backed by a gigantic network of malicious sites that display counterfeit virus detection alerts. It often sneaks into Macs by means of bundling, where the unwanted installer is deliberately kept out of sight. In either scenario, the installation isn’t an outcome of an informed decision.
To top it off, MacKeeper “finds” problems that aren’t there and flags innocuous items as severe ones to pressure the user into coughing up a fee for the “cleanup”. Numerous follow-up notifications in case of nonpayment are a nuisance, too. Regular apps don’t act like this. To recap, this software is too predatory to be considered legit.