Virus Found POP-UP Scam (Mac)
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What is Virus Found?
"Virus Found" is a fake pop-up error message displayed by a malicious website. Users often visit this website inadvertently - they are redirected by various potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). Research shows that PUPs infiltrate systems without consent (the "bundling" method).
As well as causing unwanted redirects, PUPs deliver intrusive online advertisements and continually record information relating to users' Internet browsing activity.
This fake error states that there is high-risk computer infection and that a system scan must be run. The computer scan results claim that the system is infected with the Tapsnake virus. Victims are then encouraged to download an anti-virus suite, which is supposedly capable of removing the aforementioned malware.
As mentioned above, however, "Virus Found" is fake and there is no infection. Cyber criminals attempt to trick users into downloading a fake anti-virus suite (a PUP) called "Mackeeper". You can remove this error message simply by closing the web browser. Be aware that PUPs employ a "virtual layer" to generate pop-up, coupon, banner, and other similar advertisements.
The virtual layer enables placement of third party graphical content on any site. Therefore, displayed ads often conceal underlying web content, thereby significantly diminishing the Internet browsing experience. In addition, they might redirect to malicious websites and even accidental clicks can result in high-risk computer infections.
Furthermore, PUPs continually track users' Internet browsing activity by gathering IP addresses, URLs visited, pages viewed, and other information that might contain personal details.
This collected data is later shared with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) who generate revenue by misusing private information. Thus, the presence of information-tracking apps can result in serious privacy issues or even identity theft. We strongly advise you to uninstall all potentially unwanted programs immediately.
|Name||"Virus Found" pop-up|
|Threat Type||Mac malware, Mac virus|
|Symptoms||Your Mac became slower than normal, you see unwanted pop-up ads, you get redirected to shady websites.|
|Distribution methods||Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake flash player installers, torrent file downloads.|
|Damage||Internet browsing tracking (potential privacy issues), displaying of unwanted ads, redirects to shady websites, loss of private information.|
|Malware Removal (Mac)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your Mac with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
There are dozens of virtually identical fake pop-up errors. As with "Virus Found", pop-ups such as IOS CRASH REPORT, Your Device Has Been Blocked, Critical Security Warning!, and many others, also claim that the system is infected, missing files, or damaged in other similar ways. None should be trusted.
The only purpose of fake error messages is to generate revenue for the developers. By offering various 'useful features', these PUPs attempt to give the impression of legitimacy, however, once infiltrated, they cause unwanted redirects, deliver intrusive advertisements, and collect various user-system information.
How did Virus Found install on my computer?
As mentioned above, PUPs are distributed using a deceptive marketing method called "bundling" - stealth installation of third party applications with regular applications. Developers hide bundled apps within the "Custom/Advanced" settings of the download or installation processes. Rushing these procedures and skipping steps often leads to inadvertent installation of PUPs.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?
To prevent system infiltration by PUPs be cautious when downloading and installing software. Closely analyze each step using the "Custom/Advanced" settings, decline offers to download/install additional applications and cancel those already included.
Text presented within "Virus Found" error:
VIRUS DETECTED The last website has infected your device with a virus. Press OK to begin the repair process.
A website you have visited has infected your device with a virus. A full system scan is now required to find and remove harmful files or applications.
Virus Tapsnake detected.
Please download the Mackeeper application to remove Tapsnake from your device.
Virus Name: Tapsnake
REMOVE VIRUS NOW
"Virus Found" scam error GIF:
Another variant of "VIRUS FOUND" scam targeted at Mac computer users (this one promotes MacKeeper PUP):
Text presented in this POP-UP scam variant:
A website you have visited today has infected your Mac with a virus. A full system scan is now required to find and remove harmful files or applications from your Mac OS X 10.13 device.
Instant automatic Mac malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of Mac malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is "Virus Found" pop-up?
- How to identify a pop-up scam?
- How do pop-up scams work?
- How to remove fake pop-ups?
- How to prevent fake pop-ups?
- What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?
How to identify a pop-up scam?
Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.
While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.
Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:
- Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
- Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
- Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
- Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
- Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.
Example of a pop-up scam:
How do pop-up scams work?
Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.
Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.
How to remove fake pop-ups?
In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.
In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.
How to prevent fake pop-ups?
To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.
To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS.
What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?
This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.
- If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
- If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
- If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
- Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.
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