Do not install apps promoted by protected-connect.com scam website

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

How to remove redirects to protected-connect[.]com from Mac?

What is protected-connect[.]com?

Protected-connect[.]com is the address of a deceptive website, which runs various scams. The content presented on this page typically targets iPhone users, yet it is possible that the site may be accessed through other Apple devices. At the time of research, protected-connect[.]com promoted a free VPN app scheme. However, it may push variants of the "(3) Viruses have been detected on your iPhone", "Your Apple iPhone is severely damaged", or "VPN Update" scams. The goal of such schemes is to endorse untrustworthy software, e.g. fake anti-virus tools, adware, browser hijackers, and other PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications). It is noteworthy that this type of scam may proliferate malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, etc.). Websites like protected-connect[.]com are usually accessed unintentionally via mistyped URLs, redirects caused by intrusive advertisements or installed PUAs.

protected-connect[.]com scam

The VPN scam promoted by protected-connect[.]com simply states the advantages of the free application, and provides instructions on how to download/install it. This approach may seem like ordinary product promotion when compared to other similarly themed scams (e.g., "VPN Update"). These types of schemes often claim that the software in question is outdated or missing and list supposedly present or potential threats/issues due to lack of a VPN. Regardless of the approach, apps promoted on protected-connect[.]com and sites akin to it - are deemed to be unreliable and possibly harmful.

Scams like "(3) Viruses have been detected on your iPhone" and "Your Apple iPhone is severely damaged" use scare-tactics to trick users into downloading/installing and/or purchasing the advertised software. These types claim to have detected various viruses and other threats on visitors' devices. The schemes also tend to indicate what sort of damage the nonexistent infections have caused. However, despite the severity of the fake infection, some product is presented as a miracle solution that will remove the malware and undo the damage. It must be emphasized that no website can detect threats/issues present on visitors' devices; hence, any that make such claims - are scams. To summarize, by trusting protected-connect[.]com and installing the applications it promotes - users can experience system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

As mentioned in the introduction, PUAs are commonly endorsed through online scams. Unwanted apps appear legitimate and offer "useful" features, which are rarely operational. Fake anti-viruses are a prime example of this; they require activation (i.e., purchase) to perform the promised functionalities - yet following activation remain nonoperational. However, PUAs may have unmentioned, heinous abilities. They can force-open questionable, misleading, deceptive/scam, and malicious pages (e.g., protected-connect[.]com). Adware-types deliver pop-ups, banners, coupons, and other intrusive advertisements. Once clicked on, the ads redirect to untrustworthy/hazardous sites and may be able to download/install software stealthily. Another type of PUAs called browser hijackers operate by making modifications to browser settings and restricting/denying access to them - in promotion of fake search engines. The promoted web searchers seldom can provide search results, so they redirect to (or cause a redirection chain ending with) Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other legitimate search engines.

Furthermore, most PUAs can track data. Information of interest includes: browsing and search engine histories, IP addresses, geolocations, and even personally identifiable details. PUA developers monetize the gathered data by sharing it with and/or selling it to third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals). Therefore, it is strongly advised to remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name protected-connect.com pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Mac malware, Mac virus
Fake Claim Scam promotes a dubious VPN app; others may claim that an essential piece of software is outdated/missing or that the device is infected.
Detection Names Cyan (Malicious), Forcepoint ThreatSeeker (Suspicious), Full List (VirusTotal)
Promoted Unwanted Application Various dubious applications
Serving IP Address 178.62.109.227
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.

Wcsoft.linksystem-protection-required.com, and crypt-protection.com are a few examples of webpages similar to protected-connect[.]com. There are thousands of unreliable, deceptive, and malicious sites on the Web. They use different techniques to gain and then abuse users' trust. Regardless of what these websites warn, alert, request, offer, or promise, the end-goal is the same - to generate revenue for the designers. Due to how widespread scams are online, it is highly recommended to exercise caution when browsing.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

PUAs may have "official" promotional/download pages. However, they can also be downloaded/installed together with other products. This false marketing method of packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions - is called "bundling". Rushed download/installation processes (e.g., ignored terms, skipped steps, used pre-set options, etc.) increase the risk of unintentionally allowing bundled content into the system. Intrusive advertisements proliferate PUAs as well. When clicked on, the ads can execute scripts to download/install these applications without user consent.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is important to research products to verify their legitimacy prior to download/installation and/or purchase. Additionally, only official and trustworthy download sources must be used. Dubious download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders) often offer harmful and/or bundled content. Download and installation processes must be approached with care. Therefore, it is recommended to read terms, explore available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and decline downloading/installing additional apps, tools, functions, etc. Intrusive adverts appear legitimate and innocuous; however, they redirect to unreliable and questionable sites (e.g., gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and so on). In case of encounters with ads and/or redirects of this kind, the system must be inspected and all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - removed from it 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.

Text presented in the VPN scam run on the protected-connect[.]com website:

Install Hotspot Shield Vpn App From the Appstore For Free and Protect Your Internet Connection!

 

How to Protect Your Connection:

 

Step 1. Click on the Button “Download” Below and Install the Application from the Appstore (for Free)

 

Step 2. Open the Installed Application and Protect Your Internet Connection


DOWNLOAD

Appearance of the application promoted by this scam:

protected-connect[.]com scam website promoted app

Appearance variants of the "VPN Update" scam:

VPN update scam variant 1 VPN update scam variant 2

Text presented in these scams:

First variant:

 

Install a Secured VPN App From the Appstore For Free and Protect Your Internet Connection!

 

How to Protect Your Connection:

 

Step 1. Click on the Button “Download” Below and Install the Application from the Appstore (for Free)

 

Step 2. Open the Installed Application and Protect Your Internet Connection


DOWNLOAD

 

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

 

Second variant:

 

VPN Update

 

Please download VPN App to continue watching in safe mode

 

Install

Appearance of the "(3) Viruses have been detected on your iPhone" scam:

Pop-up displayed by 3 viruses have been detected on your iPhone scam Background page of the 3 viruses have been detected on your iPhone scam

Text present in this scam:

Pop-up:

 

(1) SYSTEM NOTIFICATION
Please Read Important Notification
Regarding Your iOS Device.


OK

 

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

 

Background page:

 

(3) Viruses has been detected on your iPhone and battery has been infected and damaged.

 

If you do not remove this malware now, it may cause more damage to your device. How to fix this:

 

Step 1: Tap the button below & install the recommended virus protection tool free from the AppStore.

 

Step 2: Run the app to remove malware and repair your phone to 100%

 

1 minutes and 50 seconds

 

Download and Install
Detected By Apple.

Appearance variants of the "Your Apple iPhone is severely damaged" scam:

Your Apple iPhone is severely damaged scam variant 1 Your Apple iPhone is severely damaged scam variant 2 Your Apple iPhone is severely damaged scam variant 3

Text presented in these scam variants:

First variant:

 

Your Apple iPhone is severely damaged by 19 viruses!

 

We have detected that your Browser is (59%) DAMAGED by BROWSER TROJAN VIRUSES picked up while surfing recent corrupted sites.

 

Immediately install Connection Defender or sensitive data like your Facebook account, WhatsApp messages, photos and private applications will be infected and stolen.

 

[Install] [Cancel]

 

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

 

Second variant:

 

WARNING! Your Apple iPhone is severely damaged by 13 viruses!


We have detected that your Browser is (62%) DAMAGED by BROWSER TROJAN VIRUSES picked up while surfing recent corrupted sites.
Immediate action is required to prevent it from spreading and infecting sensitive data like your Facebook account, Whatsapp messages photos and private applications.

 

Here is how you can solve this in just a few seconds (Step by Step)

 

Step 1: Tap REMOVE VIRUS to install VPN from the App Store.

 

Step 2: Open the app to activate the latest update and remove any older (Infected) versions.

 

1 minutes and 53 seconds

 

Remove Virus
Detected By Apple.

To enable pop-up blocking, fraudulent website warnings, and remove web browsing data in mobile Apple devices, follow these steps:

First, go to "Settings", and then scroll down to find and tap "Safari".

remove pop-ups and clear cache step 1

Check if the "Block Pop-ups" and "Fraudulent Website Warning" toggles are enabled. If not, enable them immediately. Then, scroll down and tap "Advanced".

disable pop-ups and clear cache step 2

Tap "Website Data" and then "Remove All Website Data".

disable pop-ups and clear cache step 3

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-connect.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-connect.com pop-up removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove protected-connect.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-connect.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-connect.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.

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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.

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