Avoid installing rogue apps through a Fake Software Update

Also Known As: Fake Software Update pop-up
Type: Mac Virus
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Medium

How to remove "Fake Software Update" from Mac?

What is "Fake Software Update"?

Fake Software Update refers to a deceptive pop-up window, claiming that the Adobe Flash Player is outdated and requires to be updated. This scam is designed to promote various rogue applications (e.g., browser hijackers and adware) and other potentially malicious content - via fake Flash Player updaters/installers. These pop-ups are usually displayed by deceptive/scam websites. Such sites are rarely accessed intentionally, most visitors to them get redirected by PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications) or by intrusive advertisements.

Fake Software Update scam

There are several variants of the Fake Software Update. One of these variants firstly displays a pop-up window claiming that Adobe Flash Player is out-of-date. Its second pop-up states that due to this - the current version does not have the latest security updates and cannot be used until it is updated. It shows another window in the bottom right corner of the webpage, which urges users to install the updates in order to continue using the Flash Player. The background page details that the newest updates are necessary to encode and/or decode audio files in high quality (i.e. play them). It also adds that Adobe Flash Player is a vital browser plug-in, allowing users to view content ranging from videos and animation to playing games online. Due to it being outdated, it has been blocked and will not perform said functions. Much as the pop-up windows, this page also has several buttons for downloading the alleged Flash Player updates. Another variant of the scam, shows a pop-up window telling users that their Adobe Flash Player may be out of date. Additionally, the installed version might not have the latest security updates, therefore may be currently nonoperational. This pop-up reassures users that these updates do not require a system reboot. Despite legitimate appearances, these alerts are illegitimate and fraudulent. Clicking on the "update/download" buttons leads to the download of the supposed updates. The installation setup bears many similarities to the genuine Flash Player updater, however - it is not. Any content installed through these fraudulent setups is rogue and possibly even malicious. It is highly recommended to ignore such alerts and immediately leave any webpage displaying them. Should that be impossible to do by closing the browser tab/window (as some scam sites prevent users from doing so), then the activity monitor should be used to terminate the browser process. Furthermore, next time the browser is reopened - the previous browsing session should not be restored. If that is not done - the deceptive page will be reopened as well (or the website that redirected to it).

PUAs are a type of content that the Fake Software Update scam can end up infiltrating into the system. These applications appear ordinary and offer a broad array of "useful" and "beneficial" features to lure users into installation. Rarely do the functions work as advertised and in most cases - are downright nonoperational. PUAs generate redirects not only to deceptive/scam pages, but also to various sale-based, untrustworthy, compromised and even malicious websites. They can deliver intrusive advertisement campaigns by employing a variety of tools to enable third party graphical content. Hence, delivering undesirable and harmful ads, which diminish browsing quality, cause redirects to likewise dangerous webpages and can stealthily download/install other PUAs. Other types can make unauthorized changes to browsers (hijack them) and promote fake search engines. It is not uncommon for unwanted apps to have data tracking abilities. They record browsing activities (browsing and search engine histories) and collect users' personal information (IP addresses, geolocations and real-life personal details). This sensitive data is then shared with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals), seeking to misuse it for financial gain. In summary, PUAs present on devices can lead to browser and system infiltrations/infections, financial losses, severe privacy issues, even identity theft. To ensure device and user safety - all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be removed immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name Fake Software Update pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Mac malware, Mac virus
Fake Claim Scam claims that the Adobe Flash Player is outdated and recommends to update it.
Detection Names Avast (Other:Malware-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Adware.MAC.Bundlore.DPS), AVG (Other:Malware-gen [Trj]), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-Downloader.OSX.Shlayer.a), Full List (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Your Mac becomes slower than normal, you see unwanted pop-up ads, you are redirected to dubious websites.
Distribution methods Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers, torrent file downloads.
Damage Internet browser tracking (potential privacy issues), display of unwanted ads, redirects to dubious websites, loss of private information.
Removal

To eliminate Fake Software Update pop-up our malware researchers recommend scanning your computer with Combo Cleaner.
▼ Download Combo Cleaner
Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Combo Cleaner.

The Internet is rife with deceptive websites. Scams similar to Fake Software Update include "Your Mac/iOS may be infected with 5 viruses!""Your Mac OS Might Be Infected""You-Have-1-Message-About-Your-Device" and many others. They typically use scare-tactics to push visitors into downloading/installing and/or purchasing untrustworthy applications. For example, they warn users that a crucial piece of software is outdated and offer updates for it. These webpages can also show alarms claiming that the device is infected and promote certain apps for elimination of the fake problem. Users should note that no site can find threats/issues on an operating system; any that make such claims are deceitful and must not be trusted. The same extends to the software they advertise. It is strongly advised against downloading/installing/purchasing content endorsed on these pages.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Some PUAs are have "official" download pages. However, they can be installed alongside other products as well. This false marketing method of packing regular software with unwanted or malicious content is called "bundling". Rushed download/installation processes (e.g. ignored terms, skipped steps and sections, etc.) - increase the risk of unintentionally allowing bundled applications onto devices. Once clicked, intrusive adverts can execute scripts, designed to download/install PUAs without user consent.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is recommended to always research content before downloading/installing. Only official and verified download channels should be used. Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella), unofficial and free-file hosting websites, third party downloaders and similar sources are deemed to be untrustworthy; therefore advised against use. Users are encouraged to use tools/functions provided by legitimate developers to update their software. Download/Installation processes are to be treated with caution. That entails reading terms, studying available options, using the "Custom/Advanced" settings to decline downloading/installing additional apps, tools, features, etc. Intrusive ads rarely appear suspicious, however when clicked - they redirect to questionable sites (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating and others). Should users encounter ads/redirects of this kind, they are urged to inspect the device and remove all suspect applications and/or browser extensions/plug-ins without delay. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.

Screenshot of the initial pop-up window:

Fake Software Update pop-up 1

Text displayed in the pop-up windows:

Initial pop-up:

Update to the latest version of Flash Player. Your current Adobe Flash Player version is out of date.

 

--------------------

 

Second pop-up:

“Adobe Flash Player” is out-of-date

The version of this plug-in on your computer doesn't include the latest security updates. Flash cannot be used until you download an update from Adobe.Update Download Flash..

 

--------------------

 

Bottom-right pop-up:

Flash Player Update
Install latest version of Adobe Flash Player in order to continue watching.

Screenshot of the background page:

Fake Software Update background page

Text displayed in this page:

Latest version of Flash Player is required to encode and/or decode (Play) audio files in high quality. - Click here to update for latest version.

Software update
Adobe Flash Player
Install the latest update
Update Now

"Adobe Flash Player" is an essential plugin for your browser that allows you to view everything from video to games and animation on the web. The version of “Adobe Flash Player" on your system does not include the latest security updates and has been blocked.

To continue using “Adobe Flash Player", download an updated version.
UpdateDownload Flash...
Software update

Screenshot of another variant of the Fake Software Update scam pop-up:

Fake Software Update another variant

Text presented in this pop-up window:

Software update

Software Update
This update is recommended and no restart is needed

macOS Catalina Beta
10.15 - 6.45 GB

Your Adobe Flash Player may be out of date

The version of this plug-in on your computer might not include the latest security updates. Flash might not work until you download an update

Screenshots of the fake Adobe Flash Player installer promoted via Fake Software Update pop-up scam:

Fake Software Update installation 1 Fake Software Update installation 2 Fake Software Update installation 3

Instant automatic removal of Fake Software Update pop-up: 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 Fake Software Update pop-up. 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. Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Combo Cleaner.

Quick menu:

Video showing how to remove adware and browser hijackers from a Mac computer:

Potentially unwanted applications removal:

Remove potentially unwanted applications from your "Applications" folder:

mac browser hijacker removal from applications folder

Click the Finder icon. In the Finder window, select "Applications". In the applications folder, look for "MPlayerX","NicePlayer", or other suspicious applications and drag them to the Trash. After removing the potentially unwanted application(s) that cause online ads, scan your Mac for any remaining unwanted components.

Remove fake software update pop-up related files and folders:

Finder go to folder command

Click the Finder icon, from the menu bar. Choose Go, and click Go to Folder...

step1Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/LaunchAgents folder:

removing adware from launch agents folder step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/LaunchAgents

removing adware from launch agents folder step 2
In the “LaunchAgents” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious files and move them to the Trash. Examples of files generated by adware - “installmac.AppRemoval.plist”, “myppes.download.plist”, “mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist”, “kuklorest.update.plist”, etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the same string.

step2Check for adware generated files in the /Library/Application Support folder:

removing adware from application support folder step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/Application Support

removing adware from application support folder step 2
In the “Application Support” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious folders. For example, “MplayerX” or “NicePlayer”, and move these folders to the Trash.

step3Check for adware-generated files in the ~/Library/LaunchAgents folder:

removing adware from ~launch agents folder step 1


In the Go to Folder bar, type: ~/Library/LaunchAgents

removing adware from ~launch agents folder step 2

In the “LaunchAgents” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious files and move them to the Trash. Examples of files generated by adware - “installmac.AppRemoval.plist”, “myppes.download.plist”, “mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist”, “kuklorest.update.plist”, etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the same string.

step4Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/LaunchDaemons folder:

removing adware from launch daemons folder step 1
In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/LaunchDaemons

removing adware from launch daemons folder step 2
In the “LaunchDaemons” folder, look for recently-added suspicious files. For example “com.aoudad.net-preferences.plist”, “com.myppes.net-preferences.plist”, "com.kuklorest.net-preferences.plist”, “com.avickUpd.plist”, etc., and move them to the Trash.

step 5 Scan your Mac with Combo Cleaner:

If you have followed all the steps in the correct order you Mac should be clean of infections. To be sure your system is not infected run a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus. Download it HERE. After downloading the file double click combocleaner.dmg installer, in the opened window drag and drop Combo Cleaner icon on top of the Applications icon. Now open your launchpad and click on the Combo Cleaner icon. Wait until Combo Cleaner updates it's virus definition database and click "Start Combo Scan" button.

scan-with-combo-cleaner-1

Combo Cleaner will scan your Mac for malware infections. If the antivirus scan displays "no threats found" - this means that you can continue with the removal guide, otherwise it's recommended to remove any found infections before continuing.

scan-with-combo-cleaner-2

After removing files and folders generated by the adware, continue to remove rogue extensions from your Internet browsers.

Fake Software Update pop-up removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove fake software update pop-up related Safari extensions:

safari browser preferences

Open Safari browser, from the menu bar, select "Safari" and click "Preferences...".

safari extensions window

In the preferences window, select "Extensions" and look for any recently-installed suspicious extensions. When located, click the "Uninstall" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Safari browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Safari.

firefox browser iconRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Remove fake software update pop-up related Mozilla Firefox add-ons:

accessing mozilla firefox add-ons

Open your Mozilla Firefox browser. At the top right corner of the screen, click the "Open Menu" (three horizontal lines) button. From the opened menu, choose "Add-ons".

removing malicious add-ons from mozilla firefox

Choose the "Extensions" tab and look for any recently-installed suspicious add-ons. When located, click the "Remove" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Mozilla Firefox browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Mozilla Firefox.

chrome-browser-iconRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Remove fake software update pop-up related Google Chrome add-ons:

removing malicious google chrome extensions step 1

Open Google Chrome and click the "Chrome menu" (three horizontal lines) button located in the top-right corner of the browser window. From the drop-down menu, choose "More Tools" and select "Extensions".

removing malicious Google Chrome extensions step 2

In the "Extensions" window, look for any recently-installed suspicious add-ons. When located, click the "Trash" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Google Chrome browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Google Chrome.

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 virus and spyware activity level today:

Medium threat activity
Medium

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

QR Code
Fake Software Update pop-up QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Fake Software Update pop-up on your mobile device.
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Platform: macOS

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Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Combo Cleaner.