Get rid of Zeus virus alert hoax on Mac, which is caused by malicious code hijacking Safari and other browsers in order to dupe users into wasting money.
Update: February 2020
|Name||Fake “ZEUS Virus Detected” Mac popup|
|Category||Redirect / popup virus, Mac browser hijacker, Mac adware|
|Symptoms||Interrupts web sessions with fake “ZEUS Virus Detected” popups, recommends dialing a rogue tech support number, redirects to deceptive sites, causes browser slowdown|
|Fake Support Phone Numbers||+1-888-223-9813, +1-877-624-3165|
|Distribution Techniques||Freeware bundles, torrents, booby-trapped software updates, misleading popup ads|
|Damage||Interference with browsing settings, drive-by downloads, privacy issues due to Internet activity tracking, search redirects, malicious ads|
|Removal||Scan your Mac with Combo Cleaner to detect all files related to the browser hijacker. Use the tool to remove the infection if found.|
However, the fact that the operators of this particular hoax are using said malware’s name in their illegal activity is a huge giveaway. The thing is, Zeus is Windows-only malware and has never been used in cyber-attacks against Macs. It was designed to run on the operating system that has nothing to do with Apple. Despite this, the bad guys are simply pulling off the exact same fraud on both platforms, trying to cash in on people’s lack of security awareness. Anyway, Mac users who end up catching the above-mentioned browser hijacking entity encounter a BSOD-style lock screen when surfing the web. It contains a bunch of process names and timestamps, but the main catch is a popup that says, “Don’t restart your computer. Windows detected ZEUS Virus. The infections detected indicate some recent downloads on the computer which in turn has created problems on the computer. Call technical support [phone number] and share this code [hexadecimal code] to the Agent to fix this.”
Again, this warning message doesn’t make any sense for Mac, but the con artists don’t seem to care. Another popup titled Confirm Navigation says, “The problem is caused by an unusual activity performed on this machine,” and also instructs the victim to call rogue customer support for troubleshooting. Unfortunately, no matter which button you click on this alert – Leave Page or Stay On Page – the lock screen won’t go away, therefore users are stuck with the counterfeit Zeus virus alerts that persevere regardless.
As of 2019, cybercrooks have added some rationality to this tech support fraud, making it look a bit truer to life. Unlike its early crude variants, newer scams zeroing in on Macs no longer involve the Windows theme or hilariously contain recommendations to contact a Microsoft technician. Instead, the “Zeus virus detected!!!” popups are Mac-specific and they advise that victims reach out to Apple help desk. Moreover, the spoof alerts say, “If you leave this site your macOS will remain damaged and vulnerable” in order to enhance the scare effect. Furthermore, they include more details regarding the gist of the purported problem and the associated consequences, emphasizing that “a suspicious Trojan was trying to access your logins, banking details & tracking your Internet activity”. With this tweak in the misleading Zeus virus Mac campaign, users are more likely to fall for the hoax than before.
It’s important to understand a few essential things pertaining to the hoax in question. Every single bit of information provided on this scary-looking page is a lie – there is no Zeus Trojan on board, nor is the machine going to crash unless you give the impostors a call. The only infection that’s inside the Mac is an aggressive browser plugin or extension that redirects Safari, Chrome or Firefox to the fake warning site in a recurrent manner. The idea of this whole scam boils down to persuading users into dialing the telephone number provided. A self-proclaimed “technician” on the other end will say that the only way to fix the problem and avoid critical Mac damage is to pay about $250.
A newer variant of the “ZEUS Virus Detected” scam circulating since early 2020 takes the manipulation further. It is accompanied by an extra popup that says, “Your Mac has been blocked due to suspicious activity!” Combined with false claims about info-stealing properties of the Trojan that may entail a leak of personal data, this terrifying alert is more likely to fool users into doing what the fraudsters want them to. It’s noteworthy that this combo of spoof warnings is shown on a malicious website that constitutes the long-running “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” hoax.
In summary, it makes sense to get a few things straight. Zeus virus on Mac is a misnomer that contradicts logic and common sense. Any website reporting it on an Apple computer is undoubtedly run by scammers. Also, the mantra about a Mac being blocked is nothing but an element of intimidation, and the only affected component of the system is the web browser. The goal of such eyebrow-raising detection reports is to make victims rush headlong into following the crooks’ advice. To avoid the Zeus virus popup and redirect issue, be sure to steer clear of dubious torrent sites, suspicious MP3 download sites and portals that distribute free software in the form of compound application bundles. If your browser of choice is already acting up due to this infection, don’t linger with cleanup. The walkthrough below will give you clues on how to sort things out with the fake Zeus virus popups on Mac.
Zeus virus alerts manual removal for Mac
The steps listed below will walk you through the removal of the malicious application that causes fake Zeus detection alerts in the first place. 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 a suspicious process that uses up lots of CPU and shouldn’t be running, 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
- Click the Go button again, but this time select Applications on the list. Find the dubious entry 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 computer is started up. Locate the potentially unwanted app there and click on the “-” button.
Get rid of fake Zeus virus alert popups in web browser on Mac
To begin with, settings for the web browser that got hit by this virus 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 Zeus virus Mac using Combo Cleaner automatic removal tool
The Mac maintenance and security app called Combo Cleaner is a one-stop tool to detect and remove "ZEUS Virus Detected" warning malware 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 "ZEUS Virus Detected" warning malware 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 "ZEUS Virus Detected" warning malware 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.
Zeus, also known as Zbot, is a dangerous Trojan targeting Windows computers. It was originally discovered in 2007. This threat exhibits a number of deleterious characteristics, including data theft through form grabbing and keylogging, as well as the ability to distribute other infections in a highly surreptitious way. In 2009, it was used to perpetrate numerous high-profile cyber-attacks against the IT infrastructure of such technology and finance giants as NASA, Cisco, Oracle, and the Bank of America, to name a few. Also, Zeus was reportedly a pivot of the CryptoLocker ransomware propagation campaign about a decade ago.
The vast media coverage of these incidents made the Zeus virus a top cybersecurity concern of the late 2000s. It comes as no surprise that regular computer users became aware of the threat that was really the talk of the town back in the day. The above-mentioned peak of its activity was followed by well-coordinated law enforcement operations leading to a slew of arrests around the world and a takedown of its digital backbone.
However, the menace associated with Zeus continues to echo back even in 2019, except that this term is now being used as a scare element in tech support scams. Threat actors use malware that redirects victims’ web browsers to rogue sites stating that Zeus has been detected on their computers. Popup alerts on these misleading pages try to coerce the visitors to contact impostor technicians for paid cleanup assistance, or to download a “security tool” which is scareware in disguise.
Zeus virus alert is a fake notification displayed on tech support scam sites. Its purpose is to scare computer users into thinking that their systems are badly infected. This way, the operators of these frauds try to hoodwink people into calling a pseudo support agent or downloading a malicious program camouflaged as a security solution. In the former scenario, the con artists ask for a fee so that they can remotely remove the Zeus virus from the victim’s PC. In the latter situation, the phony antimalware will pretend to scan the host system, only to report more threats and recommend the user to buy its full version that will allegedly address the problem.
Although Zeus is a Trojan supporting Windows only, scammers often leverage the Zeus virus alert to try and manipulate Mac users via the same brainwashing scheme. As absurd as it appears, this attack vector has been in rotation throughout the macOS ecosystem for years. It’s not until 2019 that some of these stratagems started getting a reasonable overhaul. Whereas the recent hoaxes are still reporting Zeus virus (and the ensuing identity theft activity) on Macs, at least they no longer tell the victims to contact Microsoft like they used to. However, the operating system discrepancy is still a giveaway.
No, it can’t. If you happen to come across an alert on a web page telling you the opposite, just ignore it. Zeus is only capable of contaminating Windows computers, period. In spite of this undeniable fact, online scammers have been setting up bogus tech support sites that display the Zeus virus alert popup to every visitor regardless of their operating system. This explains why Mac users may be targeted by this ruse, even though it doesn’t make any sense.
Moreover, some cybercriminal groups are distributing browser hijacking malware that runs specifically on Macs and redirects the victims to pages hosting these faux popups. If you get hit by one of such infections, simply disregarding the deceptive popups is not enough and you need to additionally get rid of the harmful code as described in the article above.