How (Not) to Install Adware on Mac?

Many detestable adware creators use deceitful tactics to lure unsuspecting Mac users into installing harmful browser modifications that make casual browsing completely impossible. This user guide has been created to help Mac owners avoid the hidden threat of adware lurking in virtually every corner of the Web. After reading the article, the members of Apple family will know how malicious adware gets downloaded on the Mac. The article also describes the most common red flags to look for during browsing.

Unsolicited Apps

unsolicited apps
Source: pcrisk.com

The recognition and avoidance are two pillars of the adware security, which prevent your Mac from being bombarded by endless adds. To avoid browser hijacking, be on the lookout for unsolicited installers for apps.

If you are not trying to download a video player, windows such as the one above that spontaneously pop-up in your browser are sure signs of an attempt to enter a Mac with the intent of barraging a user with adds. Under no circumstances it is wise to click on the Next button, thereby initiating the installation of the adware that hides behind the guise of an innocuous video player.

In case a user is not sophisticated enough to get out of harm’s way and clicks the Next or Install button. What happens next is that an installation file gets downloaded on a computer.

Such installers often come in the form of .exe files, which should raise a red flag. It has to do with the fact that .exe files are Windows executable; therefore, they don’t run on Macs.

exe files
Source: securelist.com

Another red flag that every Mac user should be aware of is the differences in file names requested through the web search and those downloaded through unscrupulous websites. For example, a user is presented with the window below after trying to install MPlayerX.dmg.

Notice that the window’s title reads Install Optimizer instead of MPlayerX, which has to raise suspicions of cautious users. Usually, Mac’s security system gets triggered by the intruder and warns a user of the potential harm by presenting them with a confirmation dialog. It has to be kept in mind that there are exceptionally loathsome developers of adware who include detailed instructions for circumventing the built-in system integrity protection. Such instructions are a sure sign of the impending adware intrusion the impact of which is difficult to foresee.

mplayerx
Source: discussions.apple.com

Those who unaware of this method of tricking unsuspecting users into installing harmful apps click on the Open button in the warning message produced by Gatekeeper. Afterwards, they are presented with an installation window featuring terms and agreements, the Next button, and a checkbox. The checkbox is already preselected. Moreover, it cannot be unchecked, which should raise another red flag.

mplayerx installer
Source: discussions.apple.com

After clicking the Next button, the hapless user won’t be able to quit the installer. If they were careless enough to click the button, all that is left to do is to stop the installation of the adware app by force quitting the installer. To this end:

  1. In the Apple Menu, select the Force Quit option (alternatively, use the Command + Option + Esc combination);
  2. Choose the installer in the window that opens and click the Force Quit

If the user doesn’t stop the installer, it might show them a window that is indiscernible from the authentication dialog of macOS. Under no circumstances should one enter the administrator’s username and password in the window.

 

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