No Panic Necessary: Here’s How to Remove Mac Malware and Ransomware

The media is putting the fear of God into Apple users today, dramatically informing them that Apple’s operating system, which is famously immune to most internet virus attacks, was infiltrated by ransomware. Today’s headline is about KeRanger, which is thought to be the very first ransomware attack on Mac. Ransomware is a malware that has repeatedly plagued the PC. It was reported that KeRanger affected OS X through a BitTorrent client known as Transmission. Ransomware is particularly malicious because it encrypt the files on your computer so you can’t use them. It then asks you to force you to pay $400 worth of bitcoins to un-encrypt the files. Apple has taken steps to block KeRanger.

What is Malware

Malware is not like a virus, which infiltrates your machine without your knowledge. Malware is software that is disguised to look like legitimate software. It is able to trick users into installing it and then it gathers information about the user. The typical purpose of malware is to then take that information, usually things like bank information, and pass it on to a third party to steal your identity.

So far, most Mac malware arrives as a program looking like it is anti-virus or anti-malware software. No one has a complete list of things to watch out for, but here are three names you should be wary of:

  • MacDefender
  • MacProtector
  • MacSecurity

Any program similarly named also should be avoided. If your computer is suddenly redirected to a site that purports to scan your Mac for malicious software, then you should immediately stop from downloaded anything or entering your Apple ID and password. The ransomware that is making headlines lies dormant for three days while it gathers information and then sends it to scammers.

How to Remove Malware and Ransomware for Free

You don’t need to pay to remove malware. Never put your credit card details to a program or site online that says it will clean your machine. The same is true of sudden phone calls alerting your to malware on your computer.

If you are on the internet and a site claims it has detected malicious software, a virus, or malware, then take the following steps.

First, quit whatever web browser you are using. Choose Safari > Quit. If Safari will not quit, then use the Force Quit option on the Safari icon.

Second, go to the device’s Downloads folder and drag any install files, or files that you don’t recognize, to the Trash.

Third, empty the Trash by Control-Clicking the Trash icon and choosing Empty Trash. This way you will rid yourself of the problem, since you will have avoided installing software or giving your banking or credit card details to anyone.

What If It’s Already Installed?

If you think that malware has already been installed on your Mac, follow these steps to rid yourself of the malicious software.

If the app is open, note the name and then close the app window.

Open your Utilities folder (use Command Shift-U) and choose open Activity Monitor.

Choose All Processes and then go to Applications>Utilities and launch the Activity.

Search for an app called MacDefender, MacSecurity or MacProtector, or the name you noted above.

Click the Quit Process button (top-left) and select Quit.

Then Quit Activity Monitor, open the Apps file and find the malicious App.
Drag that bad App to the Trash and Empty Trash.

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  1. 1

    Nice tips on detecting the malware, i can’t stress this enough – don’t ever buy into anything that suddenly says “detecting malware” or “scanning” your machines. Exit out immediately.

  2. 2

    This story even ended up on our local evening news and I was like seriously? It only affected a few thousand. Guess the newsroom were panicking over their iPads.

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