3 Replies Latest reply: Jan 26, 2012 5:14 AM by Klaus1
Kristin288 Level 1 (0 points)

Am concerned about virus and spyware on my Apple iMac.  I understand that MacDefender is malware but what about MacKeeper?

iMac, Mac OS X (10.7.2)
  • Klaus1 Level 8 (47,782 points)

    MacKeeper is highly invasive malware that can de-stablize your operating system. It is also unethically marketed and a rip-off.


    Further opinion on it and how to uninstall MacKeeper malware:




    This is also worth reading:






    No viruses that can attack OS X have so far been detected 'in the wild', i.e. in anything other than laboratory conditions.


    It is possible, however, to pass on a Windows virus to another Windows user, for example through an email attachment. To prevent this all you need is the free anti-virus utility ClamXav, which you can download for Tiger from:




    and for Leopard, Snow Leopard and Lion from here:




    Note: If you wish to uninstall ClamXav: keep a copy of the disk image from when you downloaded it, or download it again - the uninstaller is included with the application. To uninstall, quit ClamXav Sentry (if you use it) and make sure it's not set to launch at log in. The uninstaller will remove the engine and any schedules you've got set up, then just drag ClamXav.app to the trash.


    If you are already using ClamXav: please ensure that you have installed all recent  Apple Security Updates  and that your version of ClamXav is the latest available.


    Do not install Norton Anti-Virus on a Mac as it can seriously damage your operating system. Norton Anti-Virus is not compatible with Apple OS X.




    Do not be tricked by 'scareware' that tempts computer users to download fake anti-virus software that may itself be malware.


    Fake anti-virus software that infect PCs with malicious code are a growing threat, according to a study by Google. Its analysis of 240m web pages over 13 months showed that fake anti-virus programs accounted for 15% of all malicious software.


    Scammers trick people into downloading programs by convincing them that their PC is infected with a virus.

    Once installed, the software may steal data or force people to make a payment to register the fake product.

    Beware of PDF files from unknown sources. A security firm announced that by its counting, malicious Reader documents made up 80% of all exploits at the end of 2009.:


    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9157438/in which Rogue_PDFs_account_for_80_of_all_exploits_says_researcher




    The appearance of Trojans and other malware that can possibly infect a Mac seems to be growing, but is a completely different issue to viruses.


    If you allow a Trojan to be installed, the user's DNS records can be modified, redirecting incoming internet traffic through the attacker's servers, where it can be hijacked and injected with malicious websites and pornographic advertisements. The trojan also installs a watchdog process that ensures the victim's  (that's you!)  DNS records stay modified on a minute-by-minute basis.


    You can read more about how, for example, the OSX/DNSChanger Trojan works (by falsely suggesting extra codecs are required for Quicktime) here:




    SecureMac has introduced a free Trojan Detection Tool for Mac OS X.  It's available here:




    First update the MacScan malware definitions before scanning. You can also contact their support team for any additional support - macsec@securemac.com


    The DNSChanger Removal Tool detects and removes spyware targeting Mac OS X and allows users to check to see if the trojan has been installed on their computer; if it has, the software helps to identify and remove the offending file. After a system reboot, the users' DNS records will be repaired.


    (Note that a 30 day trial version of MacScan can be downloaded free of charge from:




    and this can perform a complete scan of your entire hard disk. After 30 days free trial the cost is $29.99. The full version permits you to scan selected files and folders only, as well as the entire hard disk. It will detect (and delete if you ask it to) all 'tracker cookies' that switch you to web sites you did not want to go to.)


    A white paper was published on the subject of Trojans by SubRosaSoft, available here:


    http://www.macforensicslab.com/ProductsAndServices/index.php?main_page=document_ general_info&cPath=11&products_id=174


    Also, beware of MacSweeper and MacDefender (also goes under the name of MacProtector, MacGaurd, MacSecurity or MacShield) :


    These are malware that misleads users by exaggerating reports about spyware, adware or viruses on their computer in an attempt to obtain payment.


    Mackeeper is equally worthless and should also be avoided. Again, the developer seeks to obtain payment for an application that does nothing that free utilities do not also offer, and in many cases it will also mess up your system.


    You can keep up to date, particularly about malware present in some downloadable pirated software, at the Securemac site:






    Adding Open DNS codes to your Network Preferences, should give good results in terms of added security as well as speed-up:


    Open System Preferences/Network. Double click on your connection type, or select it in the drop-down menu, and in the box marked 'DNS Servers' add the following two numbers:



    (You can also enter them if you click on Advanced and then DNS)


    Sometimes reversing the order of the DNS numbers can be beneficial in cases where there is a long delay before web pages start to load, and then suddenly load at normal speed:




    There may be other ways of guarding against Trojans, viruses and general malware affecting the Mac, and alternatives will probably appear in the future. In the meantime the advice is: be careful where you go on the web and what you download!




    If you think you may have acquired a Trojan, and you know its name, you can also locate it via the Terminal:


    http://theappleblog.com/2009/04/24/mac-botnet-how-to-ensure-you-are-not-part-of- the-problem/


    Although any content that you download has the possibility of containing malicious software, practising a bit of care will generally keep you free from the consequences of anything like the DNSChanger trojan.

    1. Avoid going to suspect and untrusted Web sites, especially p'orn'ography sites.


    2. Check out what you are downloading. Mac OS X asks you for you administrator password to install applications for a reason! Only download media and applications from well-known and trusted Web sites. If you think you may have downloaded suspicious files, read the installer packages and make sure they are legit. If you cannot determine if the program you downloaded is infected, do a quick Internet search and see if any other users reported issues after installing a particular program.


    3. Use an antivirus program like ClamXav. If you are in the habit of downloading a lot of media and other files, it may be well worth your while to run those files through this AV application.


    4. Use Mac OS X's built-in Firewalls and other security features.


    5.  Peer-to-peer sharing applications and download torrents (such as the now defunct LimeWire) supplying pirated software, movies etc are hotbeds of potential software issues waiting to happen to your Mac. Everything from changing permissions to downloading trojans and other malicious software can be acquired from using these applications. Similar risks apply to using Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and similar sites which are prone to malicious hacking:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8420233.stm


    6. Resist the temptation to download pirated software. They can contain Botnet Trojans.  SecureMac offer a simple and free tool for the removal of the iBotNet Trojan available here:




    YOUR PRIVACY ON THE INTERNET and the latest risks to look out for:


    There is the potential for having your entire email contact list stolen for use for spamming:




    And if you are using iPhone Apps you are also at risk of losing all privacy:


    http://www.engadget.com/2010/10/03/hacker-claims-third-party-iphone-apps-can-tra nsmit-udid-pose-se/


    The advent of HTML5  may also be a future threat to internet privacy:




    Security of OS X generally:






    Security Configuration for Version 10.5 Leopard:




    NOTE: Apple's Snow Leopard and Lion operating systems silently update the malware protection built into Mac OS X to protect against a backdoor Trojan horse that can allow hackers to gain remote control over your treasured iMac or MacBook: Macs running Snow Leopard or Lion now check for new malware definitions daily, allowing Apple to quickly deploy protection from threats before they have a chance to spread.

    Few malicious titles actually exist for Mac OS X, and those that do rely almost entirely upon duping users to install software that pretends to be legitimate.




    However, if you are running Lion Server:


    Apple's new server operating system -- OS X Lion -- is so inherently insecure that Stamos recommends keeping it off the network altogether and using Macs only as standalone machines connected to IP or Windows networks, not those designed for Macs.

    The Mac Server's networking protocols -- especially DHX User Authentication -- are designed for ease of use, not security. It is trivial, Stamos said, for hackers to set up a Mac user to download a file that will overflow the buffer protecting the heap segment of the server's memory, allowing the file's malicious payload to run uncontrolled in the server's memory and give itself whatever access rights it wants.


  • Kristin288 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you Klaus1 for taking so much time to provide us with such useful and helpful information.  I removed MacKeeper and have forwarded your email to my friends who recently converted to Macs (because of me).  You've saved a bunch of us!


    I am wondering now about the virusbarrier express?  Do I need that on my Mac?  Is it in the same category as MacKeeper?


    Again, thanks!

  • Klaus1 Level 8 (47,782 points)

    Good news!



    Kristin288 wrote:


    I am wondering now about the virusbarrier express?  Do I need that on my Mac?  Is it in the same category as MacKeeper?


    I don't know about Virusbarrier, but as you don't need it - don't install it!