How to remove apps that open protected-connection.com and similar web pages

Also Known As: protected-connection.com pop-up
Type: Mac Virus
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Medium

How to remove apps that open protected-connection[.]com and similar pages from Mac computers

What is protected-connection[.]com?

protected-connection[.]com is one of many deceptive, untrusted websites that often tricks visitors into downloading and installing software. These web pages display notifications stating that the device (computer, mobile telephone or other device) is infected with viruses and encourage visitors to remove threats with various applications. Websites such as protected-connection[.]com should never be trusted, even if they advertise legitimate software. They are commonly opened through dubious ads/web pages or installed potentially unwanted apps (PUAs).

protected-connection[.]com scam

There are at least two versions of pop-up notifications that protected-connection[.]com displays. In one version of the protected-connection[.]com notification, visitors are encouraged to encrypt web traffic and change the IP address, since someone might be monitoring their web browsing activities. Another pop-up is disguised as a system notification regarding a critical threat. It attempts to trick visitors into believing that their devices are infected with 27 viruses, which apparently infected the system through an adult website. It states that the viruses must be removed immediately, otherwise they will damage the device, SIM card, and delete contacts. Both notifications attempt to deceive visitors into installing Virtual Private Network (VPN) software. At the time of research, protected-connection[.]com led to a download page of the app named iNinja VPN. This app is available for download on Apple App Store and is not a potentially malicious or harmful app, however, all applications should be downloaded from official pages. Note that web pages such as protected-connection[.]com can never be trusted. If the browser opens web pages such as protected-connection[.]com (or other dubious sites) automatically, it might have a PUA installed.

Generally, PUAs display various ads such as coupons, banners, surveys, pop-ups, etc. If clicked, they often open untrusted pages. In some cases, they can execute scripts designed to download or even install unwanted software. PUAs also track and record information such as IP addresses, URLs of visited pages, entered search queries, geolocations and other browsing data. Some target confidential information. The developers sell the data to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) who misuse it to generate revenue in other ways. These actions can lead to problems with privacy, browsing safety or even identity theft. Therefore, remove any installed PUAs immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name protected-connection.com pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Mac malware, Mac virus.
Fake Claim This page claims that the device is infected with viruses, or browsing activity might be monitored by other parties.
Serving IP Address 104.31.82.197
Promoted Application iNinja VPN
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.
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 three days free trial available.

More examples of similar deceptive web pages are apl-def[.]com, safariosso-aplosso[.]com and vpnshieldplus4[.]com. They attempt to deceive visitors into downloading and installing rogue applications - typically, a potentially unwanted or malicious app. These websites cannot be trusted and should be ignored.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Generally, people do not download or install these PUAs intentionally. It usually happens when they click deceptive ads that execute certain scripts or when the apps are distributed by including them into various download/installation set-ups. This distribution method is known as "bundling" and is used by developers who seek to trick users into downloading and installing PUAs together with regular software. Typically, information about additionally-included apps can be found in settings such as "Advanced", "Custom", "Manual" and other similar settings. Many users download and install programs without checking and changing these settings, thereby often agreeing by default with offers to download and install additional apps included in the set-ups.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

Files and programs should not be downloaded or installed through third party downloaders, installers, Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule), dubious websites, or other channels - this can lead to download/installation of unwanted, potentially malicious apps. Files and programs should be downloaded only from official websites and through direct links. Set-ups that contain settings such as "Custom", "Advanced" should be checked for offers to download or install potentially unwanted applications. Decline these offers before completing the process. Do not click advertisements that appear on dubious web pages, since they can open untrusted websites or download/install unwanted apps. Remove any unwanted, suspicious apps (extensions, plug-ins or add-ons) installed on the browser immediately. The same should be applied to software of this kind that is installed on the operating system. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.

Text in the protected-connection[.]com pop-up window:

Someone May Be Watching
What You Browse
Your IP 104.243.238.154 could be exposed.
Someone may know your Apple iPhone
Follow three steps to encrypt your web traffic and change your IP address:
    
Click below to download VPN.
Open app, click connect button.
Browse web and apps anonymously.
Install Now Cancel

 Screenshot of another version of protected-connection[.]com pop-up:

protected-connection.com scam another variant

Text in this pop-up:

Critical threat

Your device has been infected with 27 viruses after visiting an Adult website. If the problem is not resolved immediately, viruses will damage your device, harm the SIM card and delete all your contacts. To protect your device from the viruses, click the button "Remove all viruses" below, install VPNcurity app from the AppStore, open it and run cleaning procedure.

Remove all viruses

Screenshot of iNinja VPN on App Store:

protected-connection.com promoted application

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:
▼ 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 three days free trial available.

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 protected-connection.com 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.

protected-connection.com pop-up removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove protected-connection.com 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 protected-connection.com 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 protected-connection.com 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 malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
protected-connection.com 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 protected-connection.com pop-up on your mobile device.
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