Read this entry to stay on top of the MacKeeper popup issue, learn the mechanics of this hoax, and apply an effective and relevant virus removal technique.
There are various reasons why people prefer Macs over machines made by other manufacturers. One of them is the exceptional quality of the hardware and customer experience overall. Many users try to stay in vogue that way. A lot of Apple fans choose these products because of the outstanding security of the operating system. Unfortunately, the latter perspective is being undermined by a growing number of potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) that have heavily inundated the macOS ecosystem.
This holds true for the app called MacKeeper, which is a scareware sample disruptive and prolific enough to turn a part of the above mindset into an empty concept. This strain has got a notorious background that started up from a promising combo of performance booster and AV tool, with the reputation taking a nosedive after highly aggressive intimidation techniques took effect. This negative evolution, or rather degradation, has been accompanied by MacKeeper popups all the way.
Let’s look into this social engineering element of the sketchy program’s modus operandi. The popup activity by MacKeeper can be system-wide. No matter what app is currently opened, and even if it’s just the desktop that the user is on, the culprit might display an alert saying, “Clean up your Mac after visiting risky sites”. To make the whole deceit a bit more persuasive, the fake warning also shows the victim’s version of OS X or macOS, plus the country they are in. It goes on to say that a slew of junk files are hogging on the machine, and these items should be removed immediately otherwise they will slow down the system and take up a great deal of disk space.
A follow-up dialog will also appear, reading, “Please consider cleaning your Mac from junk”. There is a download button at the bottom that leads to MacKeeper. If the user falls for this trick, the rogue application will take a firmer grip on the system and generate fake scans one after another.
As opposed to the above scenario, MacKeeper popups can be isolated to a web browser. While some people would think that’s the lesser of two evils, this is probably a misconception. Owning a computer doesn’t make much sense without web surfing, so this type of ads is an equally bad nuisance. One of the common forms of these alerts raises a pseudo red flag on viruses called Tapsnake, CronDNS, and Dubfishicv, which have been allegedly detected on the Mac. The pop up puts some extra pressure on the user by saying, “Your Mac is heavily damaged!” and emphasizes that the risk stemming from these threats is extremely high. Of course, this guile is complemented by a persistent recommendation to download and install MacKeeper and thereby allegedly get the issue fixed.
One more type of browser-borne phony warnings promoting the unwelcome software revolves around a spoof notification that goes, “Your Mac is infected with 3 viruses!” This campaign is so prevalent that the wording of the alert proper has become a buzz phrase. Unlike the Tapsnake scheme, though, no specific names of infections are indicated there. The offending artifice boils down to a statement that traces of 2 malware and 1 phishing/spyware items have been spotted on the computer. To instill trust, the pop up pretends to be from AppleCare Products or AppleCare Protection Plan. To top it off, a script runs on the page and reflects the amount of time left “before the damage is permanent”. Again, the victim is lured into clicking the Scan Now button, which points to MacKeeper or similar scareware from the same lineage. It’s also worth mentioning that this fake warning can be used in tandem with the Tapsnake fraud. In this case, it serves as the primary alert, and if the victim clicks “Scan Now” they are forwarded to the “Download required!” landing page listing the 3 imaginary threats.
It’s important to understand that the very fact of these pop-ups invading a Mac is a signal of malware presence on the computer. It could be a browser hijacker or adware that’s part of the ramified MacKeeper promotion wave. If the bogus warnings appear beyond the browser, the issue might be more serious and denote that the scareware is already on board and is now attempting to brainwash the victim into paying for its license. Either way, the problem won’t vanish on its own unless a fix is applied. Speaking of which, the sections below will guide you through.
MacKeeper 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 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 directory opens up, find the following entries in it and move them to 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 the Trash
- Click the Go button again, but this time select Applications on the list. Find the entry for MacKeeper on the interface or some other one that clearly doesn’t belong there, 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 or other potentially unwanted app there and click on the “-“ button
Get rid of MacKeeper popups in web browser on Mac
To begin with, settings for the web browser that got hit by the MacKeeper 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 MacKeeper pop-up virus using Combo Cleaner automatic removal tool
The Mac maintenance and security app called Combo Cleaner is a one-stop tool to detect and remove The MacKeeper pop up 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 The MacKeeper pop up alert 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 The MacKeeper pop up alert 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.