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What Is Mac Virus and How to Remove It? [Mac Malware Guide]

What Is Mac Virus?

is-your-mac-virus-free-remove-mac-viruses-sensorstechforumIs there such a thing? Contrary to common belief that MacOS systems are immune to viruses, the statistics show that the average number of threats detected on a Mac is not only on the rise but has surpassed Windows for the last year.

Popular “infections” that could affect macOS include Google Redirects to Yahoo, Yahoo Redirect virus, Safari Redirect Virus, Bing Redirect virus, and Your computer is low on memory. There are various tricks that might be used for the spread of unwanted programs connected with a Mac virus redirect, which should leave footprints on your Mac that will be able to help you detect and remove them.

If you are wondering how to remove malware from your Apple device, this blog post will assist you through this process. Here you will find how to check your macOS for viruses, isolate malware on macOS and remove malicious strains. You can now secure your system by removing present viruses from it.

The so-called Mac virus has seen a spike in 2018 and continues to diversify in types in 2022, driving the need in the average user to be well-prepared in detecting and spotting such threats. As a security blog which cares about protection, we provide you with free instructions on how to identify and remove any Mac virus that may be currently residing on your machine. Since the viruses are from different types, we recommend that you do a decent backup on your Mac before proceeding with any detection and removal.

If you suspect you have a threat on your Mac, check out our macOS viruses removals (select Threat Removal from the menu above and then Mac Viruses) for your issue.

Software bundles are the main cause. By definition, software bundling is the process of including the install files of a program to the setup wizard of another program as a form of advertising. The installers of these programs usually present optional deals or totally free extras, which are selected to be installed by default.

So, perhaps you didn’t notice the presence of an unwanted program throughout the installation, and ultimately permitted it to access your device. After the implementation of a potentially undesirable program on your device, your Safari might start rerouting your default online search engine (Google for instance) to Bing.

How to Check Your Mac for Viruses in Activity Monitor?

Activity Monitor is located in the Applications -> Utilities folder. It is very useful for performing troubleshooting, including issues related to system sluggishness.

Furthermore, Activity Monitor can be used to determine if your computer has sufficient resources, such as CPU, RAM, and free space on your startup disk. If you are not satisfied with your device’s performance, your system may not have sufficient amount of these resources, or it could be dealing with a malware-related issue. You can learn more about how to use Activity Monitor at the end of our article where our instructions are situated.

Malware or Virus on Mac Summary

Name Mac Virus
Types Browser Redirect / Potentially Unwanted Program / Adware / Browser Hijacker / Spyware / Trojan / Cryptominer / Ransomware
Symptoms Ad-supported search results, pop-ups and redirects appear in the browser. The default search engine is changed. A lot of ads flood the affected browser. The device performs slower than usual. Important files are inaccessible.
Distribution Methods Software Bundles, Corrupted Installers, Fake Flash Player Updates, Spam emails, Hacked websites, Torrent files, etc.
Detection Tool See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware

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User Experience Join Our Forum to Discuss Mac virus.

This article is based on our own detailed research. We also considered user complaints shared on forums such as Apple Discussions.

What Are the Symptoms of Having Mac Malware?

Usually the symptoms of infection with the so-called Mac virus vary, based on the type of malware that has infected your device. Here is a list of the types of malware usually targeting macOS:

  • Rogue Antivirus programs.
  • Adware and hijackers.
  • Trojan horses and other spyware.
  • Ransomware and screen-lockers.
  • Cryptocurrency miner malware.

Signs Your Mac Is Infected With a Virus (Malware)

Based on these malware types, there are several very important symptoms that you must be aware of:

Symptom #1: Poor Performance

One of the main symptoms of having a Mac virus is the performance issues the machine experiences. Usually, some devices tend to slow down when a lot of programs are opened all at once or if their memory is full. But if your machine is generally freed up of space and is still lagging, this may be a sign of a type of malware that is utilizing the resources of your CPU. Identifying the source of the CPU usage is the key to removing the malware related to this.

Symptom #2: Toolbars or Add-ons on Your Browser that You Did Not Remember Adding

If you see a new browser extension or toolbar, be advised that it may have been added by a so-called PUP (potentially unwanted program) that may currently be residing on your computer. Here is how to remove browser extensions and toolbars manually for different web browsers. You can see the instructions underneath as they can help you remove all toolbars and browser add-ons.

Symptom #3: Ad-Supported Search Results, Pop-ups and Redirects

This type of symptoms are usually characterized by having a very aggressive browser hijacker that takes over the spaces of your search engine by replacing them with sites that lead to some site you have not even seen before. These types of fake search engines are cleverly disguised to appear like the original search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo search, Ask, etc.) and they often lead to harmful, scamming and even phishing websites.

Another symptom of having such a hijacker is the browser redirects on your Mac. These redirects often appear randomly while you are browsing. They often lead to harmful pages and may even lead to tech support scam sites, the aim to deceive you that your computer is infected:

Such sites often aim to get you to either download a suspicious program such as fake antivirus software, or call a tech support number, which leads you directly to the scammers themselves.

To make sure you remove these scams, you should clear up your web browser of any cache and also remove any browser extensions as mentioned in the step above. Here is a list of several annoying redirect “viruses” and ad-supported programs that are currently plaguing Macs:

Let’s pay closer attention to the Search Marquis redirect which has been plaguing Mac users for nearly 2 years. It is an excellent example of a Mac threat that turns out to be persistent, even though it is not technically malware. Search Marquis is related to a hoax site that triggers a browser redirection chain on your Mac. The main goal is to redirect you to its web page and flood you with ad-supported results. These results may lead to third-party websites that are dangerous to your macOS.

The good news is that we have also prepared a separate article specifically designed to remove unwanted ads associated with redirects.

Symptom #4: A Hoax Antivirus for Mac

Sometimes, when users Google a random fix for the problems on their Macs, they often end up downloading programs that only pretend to fix device Issues. We have been gathering more information concerning such programs and so far the main ones that are downloaded by victims according to our research are the following:

These types of fake optimizing programs and fake antivirus programs usually aim to get victims to pay their licensed versions, supposedly to fix any issues that they have detected. Please note that any issues detected by such programs should be ignored, as they are only triggered to make you buy a suspicious product. By revealing your personal and payment details, you may put yourself at further risk.

Symptom #5: Suspicious Processes Running as Administrator

This symptom is likely the most dangerous one, ranging from an adware program to a Trojan or a Spyware residing on your macOS. Usually, these processes tend to be ran with administrative privileges and they are very invasive.

What could these processes do to my machine?

  • Your files may be stolen from your macOS.
  • >The malware may have access to your Apple ID and passwords.
  • Your social media and other accounts may be hijacked.
  • Some malware can activate your Microphone and camera to monitor your activity.
  • Your device may become crippled by a rootkit or other destructive malware that may attack your drive.

There are many different forms of malicious software for macOS. Apple Scan Macbook Live, Weknow.ac and Search Baron are from the less harmful type and they are considered potentially unwanted programs. More harmful threats include OSX.Trojan.Gen, Kaseya Agent, KeRanger Mac Ransomware, Padlock Ransomware.

Distribution methods for such a threat can be the following:

  • Malicious e-mail attachments.
  • Malicious documents, containing Macros.
  • Malicious files, disguised as portable programs, installers, key generators or any other software uploaded on websites with low reputation.
  • Malicious web links that either lead to a direct JavaScript infection or a drive-by download infection.
  • Infection as a result of another infected device on the network (worms).

Be careful when downloading and install software especially freeware from informal sites. It is suggested to avoid installing third-party apps from undependable websites too. If you do, make sure to inspect all details available in the Custom/Advanced setup option. There you may discover a method to opt-out the installment of additional deals as well as at some point maintain your device clean from potentially undesired/harmful programs.

An example of a recent malware threat targeting macOS systems is the so-called SysJoker backdoor trojan. If you suspect that your machine is compromised, you can check whether it is affected by this backdoor by following our removal guide.

Most Common Virus Threats on Mac

mac-virus-alert-sensorstechforumThe most common issues include redirects such as Yahoo Search Virus, Your Computer Is Low On Memory, and Qsearch.

As for the most popular adware family targeting Mac users, it is the AdLoad family. AdLoad is a popular, still active adware and bundleware loaders family which has been targeting macOS users since at least 2017. The threat installs a backdoor on the system to drop adware and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs), and also collects information. It has many iterations, and 150 new variants were detected in August 2021 alone. OriginalScheduler is one of the latest variants detected in May 2022.

Note. When your default search engine, such as Google, keeps on rerouting your searches to Bing, it is most likely that your computer is contaminated with a potentially unwanted program.

Yet another problem that may be noticed when your device is affected is unsolicited data collection. By turning on different modern tracking technologies like cookies, web beacons, javascript, and even Trojans, the nasty application may obtain a lengthy listing of sensitive information including:

  • Visited Links and also internet sites.
  • Web browser’s web page.
  • Search queries.
  • Browsing activity.
  • Running system type.
  • IP address.
  • Geographical place.
  • The domain of current Access provider (ISP).

Data records are likely to be utilized for the launch of targeted ad campaigns based on your preferences. They could be released on dark internet markets.

If you notice some of the above-mentioned symptoms on your Mac or believe that its OSX has been contaminated by some kind of malicious or unwanted program, then we recommend that you complete the whole set of steps listed in our Mac virus removal guide. In the event that you don’t feel comfortable passing through the removal process manually, you can navigate to the automatic approach and help yourself with a reliable anti-malware tool. This tool will not only delete any form of unwanted software and malware on your device but also guarantee the protection of your Mac system.

What Is the Best Removal Software for Mac?

get-mac-anti-malware-sensorstechforumAs we already discussed, macOS is not immune to the various threats circling the Web. In other words, your Mac needs to be protected by an anti-malware program that will also remove unwanted software, malware, and viruses. How can you make the best choice of such a program? What are the most important features of an anti-malware tool for Mac?
Some of the most crucial capabilities include the following:

  • Adware and malware scanner.
  • Memory cleaner.
  • Duplicate file finder.
  • Privacy issues scanner.
  • Large files finder.
  • Unnecessary items remover.

As you can see, these capabilities will not only detect any malware-related problem on your Mac but will also help optimize its performance.

The malware scanner, in particular, is quite crucial as it locates any type of Mac malware. The scanner can also detect PC-related malware, as its virus data source updates its definitions regularly to make sure you are protected against the most recent malware.

The program you choose should also be user-friendly, with an interface that is easy to navigate. However, the most important factor in choosing your Mac anti-malware would be its malware detection. The best removal software should be kept up-to-date with all the current virus definitions.

Such a diverse program that offers all these capabilities in one place is SpyHunter for Mac.

How to Remove a Virus from Mac?

Before you begin with a thorough Mac virus removal process, you should do one very important step – BACKUP YOUR FILES. If you have such malware running on your system, no one knows how long it will take until the virus wrecks the system completely and eliminates all your files in the process as well. So it’s best to stay safe.

Mac Malware Removal Essential Steps

Removal Step #1: Securing Your Accounts

If you have had your computer affected by such an infection, follow these steps towards securing your computer.

1 – Disconnect from the web and try to stay offline when possible until the issue is resolved.
2 – Do not type any passwords on your device, because malware may be logging your keystrokes to obtain passwords.

Removal Step #2: Perform a Malware Check

If your computer is infected and you have located the source of the infection, make sure to first stop it and then remove it by following the steps below:

1 – Open Activity Monitor and then locate the malciious process. When you locate it, click on it’s name and then quit it by tapping CMD+Q.
2 – Remove the app from the Utilities folder of the Applications list. Over there, you can use the search box to type in the same app’s name. When you find it, the app may still be running so select it and then click the X icon on top left of it. Then select Force Quit.
3 – Uninstall the program, if it is added on your Applications by following the mini-steps in dark-gray below:


Bonus: Video containing step-by-step removal and file recovery instructions for threats, like Mac virus:

Ventsislav Krastev

Ventsislav is a cybersecurity expert at SensorsTechForum since 2015. He has been researching, covering, helping victims with the latest malware infections plus testing and reviewing software and the newest tech developments. Having graduated Marketing as well, Ventsislav also has passion for learning new shifts and innovations in cybersecurity that become game changers. After studying Value Chain Management, Network Administration and Computer Administration of System Applications, he found his true calling within the cybersecrurity industry and is a strong believer in the education of every user towards online safety and security.

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OFFER
REMOVE IT NOW (MAC)
with SpyHunter for Mac
Mac virus may remain persistent on your system and may re-infect it. We recommend you to download SpyHunter for Mac and run free scan to remove all virus files on your Mac. This saves you hours of time and effort compared to doing the removal yourself.
Free Remover allows you, subject to a 48-hour waiting period, one remediation and removal for results found. Read EULA and Privacy Policy

About the Mac virus Research

The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this Mac virus how-to removal guide included, is the outcome of extensive research, hard work and our team’s devotion to help you remove the specific macOS issue.

How did we conduct the research on Mac virus?

Please note that our research is based on an independent investigation. We are in contact with independent security researchers, thanks to which we receive daily updates on the latest malware definitions, including the various types of Mac threats, especially adware and potentially unwanted apps (PUAs).

Furthermore, the research behind the Mac virus threat is backed with VirusTotal.

To better understand the threat posed by Mac malware, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.

References

1. macOS More Susceptible to Adware and PUPs than Windows
2. XLoader Malware-as-a-Service Now Available for macOS for Only $49
3. XCSSET Mac Malware Targets Apple’s M1-Based Macs and macOS 11
4. macOS Backdoor Malware Linked to OceanLotus Hackers
5. The State of Apple’s Privacy So Far in 2021


Preparation Phase:

Before starting to follow the steps below, be advised that you should first do the following preparations:

  • Backup your files in case the worst happens.
  • Make sure to have a device with these instructions on standy.
  • Arm yourself with patience.

Step 1: Uninstall Mac virus and remove related files and objects

OFFER
Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your Mac with SpyHunter for Mac
Keep in mind, that SpyHunter for Mac needs to purchased to remove the malware threats. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter’s EULA and Privacy Policy

1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:


2. Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:


3. In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to Mac virus:

Tip: To quit a process completely, choose the “Force Quit” option.


4. Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.


5. In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to Mac virus. If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.


6. Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference. Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to Mac virus. Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.


7. Remove any left-over files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:

  • Go to Finder.
  • In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
  • Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
  • If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.

In case you cannot remove Mac virus via Step 1 above:

In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:

Disclaimer! If you are about to tamper with Library files on Mac, be sure to know the name of the virus file, because if you delete the wrong file, it may cause irreversible damage to your MacOS. Continue on your own responsibility!

1. Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:

2. Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:

3. Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as Mac virus. If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.

You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:

→ ~/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons

Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.


Step 2: Remove Mac virus – related extensions from Safari / Chrome / Firefox

Remove an extension from Safari and reset it.Remove a toolbar from Google Chrome Remove a toolbar from Mozilla Firefox

1. Start Safari

2. After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.

3. From the menu, click on "Preferences"

stf-safari preferences

4. After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab

stf-safari-extensions

5. Click once on the extension you want to remove.

6. Click 'Uninstall'

stf-safari uninstall

A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the Mac virus will be removed.

How to Reset Safari
IMPORTANT: Before resetting Safari make sure you back up all your saved passwords within the browser in case you forget them.

Start Safari and then click on the gear leaver icon.

Click the Reset Safari button and you will reset the browser.

1. Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu

2. Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"

3. From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the add-on and click on the garbage bin icon on the right of it.

4. After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" in the top right corner and start it again.


1. Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window

2. Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.

3. Select the Extension and click "Remove"

4. After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" in the top right corner and start it again.


Step 3: Scan for and remove Mac virus files from your Mac

When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts and programs such as Mac virus, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. SpyHunter for Mac offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.


Click the button below below to download SpyHunter for Mac and scan for Mac virus:


Download

SpyHunter for Mac



Quick and Easy Mac Malware Video Removal Guide


Step 4: How to Make Your Mac Run Faster?

Mac machines maintain probably the fastest operating system out there. Still, Macs do become slow and sluggish sometimes. The video guide below examines all of the possible problems that may lead to your Mac being slower than usual as well as all of the steps that can help you to speed up your Mac.


Mac virus FAQ

What is Mac virus on your Mac?

The Mac virus threat is probably a potentially unwanted app. There is also a chance it could be related to Mac malware. If so, such apps tend to slow your Mac down siginficantly and display advertisements. They could also use cookies and other trackers to obtain browsing information from the installed web browsers on your Mac.

The creators of such unwanted apps work with pay-per-click schemes to get your Mac to visit risky or different types of websites that may generate them funds. This is why they do not even care what types of websites show up on the ads. This makes their unwanted software indirectly risky for your MacOS.

Can my Mac get a virus?

Yes. As much as any other device, Apple computers do get viruses. Apple devices may not be a frequent target by malware authors, but rest assured that the following Apple devices can become infected with a virus:

  • iMac
  • Mac Mini
  • Macbook Air
  • Macbook Pro
  • iPhone
  • iPad

What are the symptoms of Mac virus on your Mac?

There are several symptoms to look for when this particular threat and also most Mac threats in general are active:

Symptom #1: Your Mac may become slow and has poor performance in general.

Symtpom #2: You have toolbars, add-ons or extensions on your web browsers that you don't remember adding.

Symptom #3: You see all types of ads, like ad-supported search results, pop-ups and redirects to randomly appear.

Symptom #4: You see installed apps on your Mac running automatically and you do not remember installing them.

Symptom #5: You see suspicious processes running in your Mac's Activity Monitor.

If you see one or more of those symptoms, then security experts reccomend that you check your Mac for viruses.

What types of Mac threats are there?

According to most malware researchers and cyber-security experts, the threats that can currently infect your Mac can be the following types:

  • Rogue Antivirus programs.
  • Adware and hijackers.
  • Trojan horses and other spyware.
  • Ransomware and screen-lockers.
  • Cryptocurrency miner malware.

What to do if I have a Mac virus, like Mac virus?

Do not panic! You can easily get rid of most Mac threats by firstly isolating them and then removing them. One reccomended way to do that is by using a reputable malware removal software that can take care of the removal automatically for you. There are many Mac anti-malware apps out there that you can choose from. SpyHunter for Mac is one of the reccomended Mac anti-malware apps, that can scan for free and detect any viruses, tracking cookies and unwanted adware apps plus take care of them quickly. This saves time for manual removal that you would otherwise have to do.

How to secure my passwords and other data from Mac virus?

With few simple actions. First and foremost, it is imperative that you follow these steps:

Step 1: Find a safe computer and connect it to another network, not the one that your Mac was infected in.

Step 2: Change all of your passwords, starting from your e-mail passwords.

Step 3: Enable two-factor authentication for protection of your important accounts.

Step 4: Call your bank to change your credit card details (secret code, etc.) if you have saved your credit card for online shopping or have done online activiites with your card.

Step 5: Make sure to call your ISP (Internet provider or carrier) and ask them to change your IP address.

Step 6: Change your Wi-Fi password.

Step 7: (Optional): Make sure to scan all of the devices connected to your network for viruses and repeat these steps for them if they are affected.

Step 8: Install anti-malware software with real-time protection on every device you have.

Step 9: Try not to download software from sites you know nothing about and stay away from low-reputation websites in general.

If you follow these reccomendations, your network and Apple devices will become significantly more safe against any threats or information invasive software and be virus free and protected in the future too.

More tips you can find on our MacOS Virus section, where you can also ask any questions and comment about your Mac problems.

6 Comments
  1. Caya

    HELP! Kind of Mac malware has infected my system and now it displays different pop up windows. Those windows show various message, all of which are very annoying!! On top of that yahoo take over my search engine on Safari. What could you recommend me to do?

    Reply
  2. Luka

    i was trying to download a planner for free but downloaded a virus instead. filthy scenario. steps here helped me a lot, thanks

    Reply
  3. jack

    I’m trying to get rid of a yahoo redirect on my mac.. I think I have something else installed that is causing it but can’t seem to find what.. can you help me figure it out?

    Reply
  4. Jan

    I’ve recently just noticed that when using Safari, it always redirects to Yahoo. Although my default search is set to Google. Have tried everything I could find online but it doesn’t work. Tried looking for the application but it is not on the applications folder. Could you recommend any additional specific manual steps?

    Reply
  5. Debra

    You saved me from spending $350 dollars on fixing my Mac. I was dealing with browser pop ups and frequent connection interruptions. My Mac was extremely slow. I was surprised to find out that my Mac is finally CLEAN from malicious apps after the completion of all the steps above. Thank you so much for the help! Cheers

    Reply
  6. Justin

    I thought that I’ve been acting carefully by visiting reputable sites and downloading apps from official sources but the other day I faced the annoying QSearch browser redirect. I’ve tested your guide and now I can say that my Mac is free from all malicious software.

    Reply

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