Skip to main content

Remove "ZEUS Virus Detected" Mac warning from Safari, Chrome and Firefox

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: August 2020

Threat Profile
Name Fake “ZEUS Virus Detected” Mac pop-up
Category Redirect / pop-up virus, Mac browser hijacker, Mac adware
Symptoms Interrupts web sessions with fake “ZEUS Virus Detected” pop-ups, 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, +1-833-740-0348
Distribution Techniques Freeware bundles, torrents, booby-trapped software updates, misleading pop-up ads
Severity Level Medium
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.

What is "ZEUS Virus Detected" warning screen?

There are several components constituting the average tech support scam. First off, threat actors need to infect a Mac computer with a malware strain that runs malicious JavaScript code in an infinite loop. This type of infection, commonly referred to as a hijacker or PUP (potentially unwanted program), forces Internet hits to a predefined web page containing an error message and generating persistent pop-ups off and on. Secondly, the crooks have to utilize some sort of intimidation hype in order to pressure a victim into following rogue recommendations. In the case of the ongoing Mac fraud campaign under scrutiny, this scare component is the notorious Zeus virus.

Misleading Zeus virus alert on Mac

A nonsensical early variant of ZEUS virus Mac scam

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 early version of 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 pop-up 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.”

Confirm Navigation pop-up on Zeus virus Mac alert screen

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.

“ZEUS Virus Detected” alerts getting more persuasive

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!!!” pop-ups 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.

Zeus virus detected’ Mac scam getting more trustworthy

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.

Extra pressure added to the mix

A newer variant of the “ZEUS Virus Detected” scam circulating since early 2020 takes the manipulation further. It is accompanied by an extra pop-up 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.

Spinoff of ‘ZEUS Virus Detected’ fake alert saying the Mac has been blocked

The key takeaways

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 pop-up 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 pop-ups on Mac.

Zeus virus alerts 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. To narrow down your search, focus on unfamiliar resource-intensive entries on the list. 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.pcv.hlpramc.plist, com.updater.mcy.plist, com.avickUpd.plist, and com.msp.agent.plist. 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 Quick Mac Booster, Mac Cleanup Pro and IdeaShared.

    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 “ZEUS Virus Detected” pop-up 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 a suspicious 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 "ZEUS Virus Detected" warning malware virus in web browser on Mac

To begin with, the web browser settings taken over by the "ZEUS Virus Detected" warning malware 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 "ZEUS Virus Detected" warning malware 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 "ZEUS Virus Detected" warning malware 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 "ZEUS Virus Detected" warning malware 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 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:

  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 an update of the 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 "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.

    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.



Was this article helpful? Please, rate this.

There are no comments yet.
Authentication required

You must log in to post a comment.

Log in