Adware alert: Pop-up ads impersonate system messages
By Larry Barrows
Apple creates award-winning and well-built hardware as well as excellent software that tends in general to be more secure and safer than most competitors. For several years I ran Eset antivirus software on my Mac, but in all that time I was never infected with a single virus and, to the best of my knowledge, never have been for well over a decade.
So though Mac users may overall be relatively safe from viruses, the latest bane of Mac (and other computer) users is a pop-up ad (known as “adware”) that looks like some type of actual system warning. (One thing to note is that these pop-up ads typically look more like a Microsoft Windows system warning than one that looks like the Mac interface, and they often warn of viruses which tend NOT to be a problem on a Mac.)
Macs and other computers have been quite susceptible in recent years to adware, along with certain types of malware. Malware are apps or sometimes browser/internet plugins that tend to monitor a user’s activities and open pop-up ads with language that is often scary or threatening. The worst of these will even take full control of the screen and not allow you to exit out of your browser or application without a hard shutdown of the computer.
The bad news is that adware and malware threats are likely to become more prevalent and potentially more severe. The good news is that Apple is constantly working to help prevent these kinds of malicious apps from spoiling the carefully-curated Apple experience, and there are safeguards that you as a user can take to prevent adware and malware from spoiling your computing experience. Apple has written a useful article (read more):
In a nutshell, Apple’s primary advice is to ensure that the operating system on all of your iOS devices (iPads, iPhones, as well as your laptop or desktop computers) is always up-to-date. I’ve seen instances where simply running the latest Mac OS upgrade will completely clean a system that was infected in ways that even my favorite Malwarebytes Anti-malware app could not clean.
The other useful tip I can recommend is to use a pop-up blocker, such as Adblock and Adblock Plus, in your Mac’s browser software. These free (or donation based) invaluable browser plugin tools sometimes will block useful pop-ups (such as ones from your bank or some other relevant website), but on pages with a lot of ads it can block 10 or 12 various pop-ups or inline ads. They’ll make your browsing experience much more pleasurable and far less cluttered.
The best thing these pop-up blockers do, however, is completely prevent the display of any malicious ads of this kind which are impersonating system alerts. These pop-up ads will try to scare you with messages claiming your system is infected and tell you to call a particular 800 number which the ads claim is the ONLY way to remove a virus, malware, or other serious problem.
However, if you see messages like this while you’re browsing, and you’re not sure how best to respond to or resolve the issue, Connectech is here and ready to help not only solve these issues but proactively monitor your computer to help catch these kinds of issues before they become a problem. If you’d like to schedule a system checkup with us, or if you’re experience issues with adware or malware, please give us a call or contact us.