Prevent mac-cleaner.space from installing fake Mac cleaners

Also Known As: mac-cleaner.space pop-up
Type: Mac Virus
Damage level: Medium

What is mac-cleaner[.]space?

Mac-cleaner[.]space is a scam website, similar to apple.com-mac-optimization.xyzapple.com-shield-guard.liveapple.com-mac-optimizer.icu and many others. It is designed to lure users into downloading various nonfunctional cleaning tools for the MacOS (Mac operating system).

The advertised software can supposedly remove various system invasions/infections, however it is most likely illegitimate and therefore nonoperational. It should be mentioned, that this site may also proliferate PUAs (potentially unwanted applications) with different "features" from Mac cleaners, though any such would also be fraudulent.

What is also noteworthy, is that visitors to mac-cleaner[.]space rarely access it intentionally and in most case are redirected by intrusive ads or adware-type PUAs already present in their device. The latter of which, require no express user permission to invade their systems.

Mac-cleaner[.]space scam

Once accessed, mac-cleaner[.]space offers to download/install some sort of Mac cleaner (usually, with advertised features, such as: file protection and organization, system memory optimization and similar). Relevant examples of such include: Cleanup My MacMacOptimizerAdvanced Mac Cleaner and others.

After clicking the download/install button, maccleaner.pkg file is downloaded. This file is used for installation of unwanted software (like the examples given above) onto the MacOS.

This file (and others of its kind) are spread through various scam websites, which can present innocuous looking products or warn of present dangers and offer software capable of removing them. Additionally, maccleaner.pkg can be downloaded along with fake Flash Player updaters, the latter - also nonfunctional.

It can also be disguised as the installation file for other software, however instead of installing the desired content, it installs unwanted apps. All PUAs are designed to appear highly legitimate. Fake Mac cleaning tools are designed to look similar to actual cleaning software.

When opened they display long lists of various issues (e.g. an abundance of unused additions or an excess of temporary files, a variety of system infections and etc.), however all the problems they show are not actually present. It must be emphasized, that these cleaning tools are fraudulent - in other words, they do not have any system scanning or threat-removal capabilities.

In general, undesirable applications are rarely functional. Instead, they generate unauthorized redirects to untrustworthy and malignant sites, run intrusive advertisement campaigns (e.g. pop-ups, surveys, banners, coupons, etc.) and some can even gather vulnerable information.

By spying on users' browsing activity (URLs visited, pages viewed, search engine history), they can attain personal information (IP address, geolocation and real-life user identity details). This data is then sold to third parties (possibly, cyber criminals) and it can end up serving criminal purposes.

Therefore, PUAs can cause serious system invasions/infections and lead to severe privacy issues (even culminate in identity theft). To ensure device and user safety all dubious applications must be removed immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name mac-cleaner.space pop-up
Threat Type Mac malware, Mac virus
Serving IP Address
Detection Names Spamhaus (Phishing), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
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.
▼ Download Combo Cleaner for Mac
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited seven days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

There are thousands of scam websites out there, all advertising "useful' products and/or warning of "present" threats. Such sites should not be trusted and no content presented there installed. Sites like mac-cleaner[.]space spread PUA installer files and by extension unwanted apps themselves.

These applications are also released by the thousand. They can wear various disguises, offer wide varieties of features - however, they always operate in similar fashion. In most cases, the promised features rarely work as advertised, if they are functional at all.

It must be stressed that the only purpose of these rogue apps is generating revenue for their developers; to users they have no genuine value. PUAs cause redirects, run invasive ad campaigns and track data.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

PUAs can be installed by users themselves or without their consent and/or knowledge. They can be downloaded/installed under the guise of a legitimate application, as well as together with ordinary software. "Bundling" is a false marketing tactic, by which desired programs are packed together with PUAs.

When installing, by ignoring terms and possible options, users can miss the presence of these apps and how they intend to function. Step skipping and usage of installation pre-sets are also reasons for various system invasions. Clicking on intrusive advertisements can trigger them to execute scripts, designed to autonomously download/install PUAs.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is highly recommended to use only official and verified sources for downloading (ideally, via direct downloads). As opposed to third part downloaders, which are more likely to offer content bundled with PUAs. Installation advices include: reading terms and exploring possible options, using "Custom/Advanced" settings and opting-out/declining additional apps/features.

When browsing, users should avoid suspicious sites and adverts. Intrusive advertisements can appear ordinary and harmless, however the untrustworthy sites they redirect to (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, etc.) can be used a sign of their inauthenticity.

After encountering such ads/redirects, users should check their system and remove all suspect applications and/or browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.

Appearance of "Mac-cleaner[.]space" scam (GIF):

Appearance of Mac-cleaner-space

Screenshot of maccleaner.pkg installer used to spread Cleanup My Mac unwanted application:

Installer for a fake Mac cleaner app example

Screenshot of Cleanup My Mac unwanted application:

Fake Mac cleaner app appearance example

Instant automatic Mac malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT 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:
▼ DOWNLOAD Combo Cleaner for Mac By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited seven days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

Quick menu:

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:

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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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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