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How to remove “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” popup warning alert

Learn how to get rid of annoying “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” browser alerts and get best practice tips on dealing with tech support scams like that.

Update: February 2024

Cybercrime and social engineering go hand in hand these days. Targeting computer software alone tends to be much more difficult than exploiting human weaknesses, so to speak. Rather than focus on a single attack vector, though, some threat actors prefer combining the two. This is how tech support scams work. The fraudulent campaign to be analyzed herein revolves around bogus browser alerts saying, “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” or “Your system is infected with 3 viruses”. The message sure sounds scary, doesn’t it? Having stumbled upon it, some Mac users will end up following the malicious prompts provided on the page, and that’s a slippery slope.

‘Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses’ fake alert

Let’s delve into the technical nature of this online fraud. Obviously, Mac users do not go to the spoof web page in question because they want to. These forcible hits are facilitated by perpetrating scripts on hacked sites, or by malicious code previously deposited on the Mac. Some of the domains reportedly involved in this shady activity include effective-design.com, network-internet.com, use-secure.com, apple.com-shield-devices.live, apple.clean-macbook-system-fix.live, apple.com-internet-security-review.info, message.updates-1st.com, apple.com-macbook-fixse.ga, apple.com-protect-systems-live, apple.com-supportcenter.pro, apple.com-traffic-cleaner.systems, and som008.site.

The redirect begins with a popup warning that provides the following information, “Immediate action required. We have detected a Trojan virus (e.tre456_worm_osx) on your Mac. Press OK to begin the repair process.” The wording may vary, but the idea is to catch the user’s eye and persuade them to proceed. No matter what option is selected on the popup, the incursion moves on and the victim ends up on the main page that goes,

Your system is infected with 3 viruses

Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses. Our security check found traces of 2 malware and 1 phishing/spyware. System damage: 28.1% - Immediate removal required!

The immediate removal of the viruses is required to prevent further system damage, loss of Apps, Photos or other files.
Traces of 1 phishing /spyware were found on your Mac.

Personal and banking information is at risk.

To avoid more damage click on ‘Scan Now’ immediately. Our deep scan will provide help immediately!”

The spoof popup alert tries to dupe users into clicking the Scan Now button

The whole message is a complete fake. However, it is designed quite competently, includes the official logo of AppleCare Protection Plan, and generally looks trustworthy. The ‘Scan Now’ button in the bottom part of the page will download and install MacKeeper, a malware cleanup tool with a controversial reputation. It gained notoriety for malvertising activity and false positives used to persuade Mac users to purchase its license. Some of the latest variants of this fraud circulating in 2023 are pushing other scareware apps such as Mac Cleanup Pro or Mac Mechanic. To top it off, a few gangs are abusing the terms of affiliate marketing platforms to promote legitimate Mac protection software like Avira in this intrusive manner.

Yet another flavor of this scam comes down to pressuring victims into dialing a fake Apple Support phone number, which will be followed by more brainwashing that aims to wheedle out sensitive personal information or gain remote access to the Mac. One of the most disconcerting things about the alerts in question is that the browser redirects may be triggered by a hijacker application that changes Internet surfing defaults on a compromised machine.

So, the main takeaway is to refrain from following the recommendations provided by “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” scam alerts. Another one is to check the system for browser redirect malware and remove it if detected.

“Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” redirect 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. 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 Mac Cleanup Pro, IdeaShared, and ProgressMatch.

    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 the “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” alert 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 an 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 “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” popup warning alert virus in web browser on Mac

To begin with, the web browser settings taken over by the “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” popup warning alert 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 “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” popup warning alert 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 “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” popup warning alert 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 “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” popup warning alert 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 “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” redirects using Combo Cleaner removal tool

The Mac maintenance and security app called Combo Cleaner is a one-stop tool to detect and remove “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” popup warning alert 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 “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” popup warning alert 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 “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses” popup warning alert 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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