Here is a comprehensive tutorial addressing the Propprethosnis.com browser redirect scam that mimics McAfee Total Protection to deceive Mac users.
What is the propprethosnis.com McAfee scam on Mac?
Internet-borne frauds come in a variety of shapes and forms. Tech support scams, fake prize claim notifications, account termination alerts, and in-browser virus detection warnings are a few examples. With most of these being provider-neutral, stratagems that imitate specific reputable services stand out from the crowd, yet they are gearing up for a rise. The Propprethosnis scam fits the mold of this rare category. It got its name from the URL of the website (propprethosnis.com) that’s serving disgustingly phony pop-ups, purportedly from McAfee Total Protection. The indication of the popular security service is apparently supposed to pique trust and thereby increase the success rate of the whole chicanery. Another interesting hallmark is that the problem appears to be isolated to Macs.
As is the case with many malvertising campaigns in the wild, the Propprethosnis predicament tends to overlap another trickery that enhances the manipulation effect. It manifests itself through web push alerts that pile up in the right-hand part of the desktop. The ongoing Ask You pop-up frenzy, which I analyzed a while back, is an example of this interference. The attack starts with the infiltration of a Mac adware strain that meddles with notification settings in Safari, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox. Specifically, it enables this (otherwise benign) feature while bypassing user approval. This leads to the emergence of annoying objects on the home screen that report security problems and lure the victim to click them to find out more. Once this happens, the affected web browser opens with propprethosnis.com in the URL area.
The misleading page itself is designed as if it were linked to McAfee Total Protection. It fakes a system scan whose progress reflects virus detection instances. The threats that are allegedly found along the way are as follows: Win32/Hoax.Renos.HX, Trojan IRC/Backdoor.sd, Win32/Look2me.ab, Trojan Key logger, and Data crawler.exe. Oddly enough, most of these are PC infections that can’t run on Macs. Obviously, the criminals at the helm of this campaign couldn’t care less. The pseudo-scan culminates with a pop-up warning that says, “Security Alert: You’ve visited illegal infected web site”; or in another variant, “Your Mac is infected with 5 viruses!” The “Scan” or “Proceed” button on this alert leads deeper into the rabbit hole of the tech support scam, ultimately trying to hoodwink the user into paying for the fix or installing an application that’s malware in disguise.
The culprit in question also follows in the footsteps of prevalent Mac malware in terms of persistence. To make the disinfection and removal problematic, it may install a configuration profile (see screenshot above) that specifies its URL propprethosnis.com as the default homepage, search engine, or new tab page in the victim’s web browsers. This way, clearing the rogue settings at the level of the browser will do basically nothing, as the profile would simply override those changes. It’s an example of malicious actors weaponizing regular functionality of an operating system. This particular feature is hugely useful for administering networks of Macs within organizations, but cybercrooks have been gaming it for years. The good news is that eliminating this obstacle during Propprethosnis virus cleanup isn’t that hard. The following walkthrough explains how to overcome the persistence of this baddie, get rid of the underlying harmful code, and rectify browser settings so that the noxious pop-up activity comes to a halt.
Propprethosnis 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 specified order.
- Expand the Go menu in your Mac’s Finder bar and select Utilities as shown below.
- Locate the Activity Monitor icon on the Utilities screen and double-click on it.
- 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.
- When a follow-up dialog pops up asking if you are sure you want to quit the troublemaking process, select the Force Quit option.
- 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.
- Type /Library/LaunchAgents in the folder search dialog and click on the Go button.
- 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.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.
- 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).
- 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 com.AuraSearchDaemon, ProgressSite and IdeaShared.
- Enter ~/Library/LaunchAgents string (don’t forget to include the tilde character) in the Go to Folder search area.
- The system will display LaunchAgents residing in the current user’s Home directory. Look for the following dodgy items related to Propprethosnis redirect virus: com.ConnectionCache.service.plist, com.digitalprotection.emcupdater.plist, com.mulkey.plist, com.nbp.plist, and com.sys.system.plist. Drag these files to the Trash.
- Type /Library/LaunchDaemons in the Go to Folder search field.
- In the LaunchDaemons path, try to pinpoint the files the malware is using for persistence. Several examples of the items cropped by this Mac infection are com.ConnectionCache.system.plist and com.mulkeyd.plist. Delete the sketchy files immediately.
- Click on the Go menu icon in your Mac’s Finder and select Applications on the list.
- Find the 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.
- Expand the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
- Proceed to Users & Groups and click on the Login Items tab. 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.
- 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 AdminPrefs, TechSignalSearch, MainSearchPlatform, and Safari Preferences. Select the offending entity and click on the minus sign at the bottom to eliminate it.
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 propprethosnis.com redirect in web browser on Mac
To begin with, the web browser settings taken over by the Propprethosnis 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:
- Remove propprethosnis.com virus in Safari
- Open the browser and go to Safari menu. Select Preferences in the drop-down list.
- Once the Preferences screen appears, click on the Advanced tab and enable the option saying “Show Develop menu in menu bar”.
- Now that the Develop entry has been added to the Safari menu, expand it and click on Empty Caches.
- Now select History in the Safari menu and click on Clear History in the drop-down list.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Restart Safari
- Remove propprethosnis.com virus 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
- When on the Settings pane, select Advanced
- Scroll down to the Reset settings section.
- 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.
- Remove propprethosnis.com redirect in Mozilla Firefox
- Open Firefox and go to Help – Troubleshooting Information (or type about:support in the URL bar and press Enter).
- When on the Troubleshooting Information screen, click on the Refresh Firefox button.
- Confirm the intended changes and restart Firefox.
Get rid of Propprethosnis Mac virus using Combo Cleaner removal tool
The Mac maintenance and security app called Combo Cleaner is a one-stop tool to detect and remove Propprethosnis 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 Propprethosnis 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 an update of the 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 Propprethosnis 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.