How to Remove Mac Defender PUP from Mac

George Herman
George Herman
IT Security Expert

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What is Mac Defender

Mac Defender is a program known for aggressive advertising activity on the device it’s installed on. Malware researchers categorize it as a Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP). This software may use scare tactics in order to trick users into installing more shady programs on their computers. It will also make sure to flood your screen with all sorts of ads, pop-ups and banners that redirect to unreliable third-party websites or promote other software by the company that has developed Mac Defender.

How it is distributed

The most common delivery methods include freeware and bundled software. This PUP can also get distributed via fake update messages, torrent files and spam email attachments. Users unknowingly install such unwanted programs. Usually, malware is disguised as additional software that gets automatically installed on the computer along with the main program, unless the user decides otherwise. In order to make sure that no unwanted software gets installed without your authorization, you need to pay close attention to the installation process. If you find any optional bonus installations, it is best to opt out of them. Just uncheck the boxes next to such unfamiliar programs and carry on with the installation of the program you actually want on your device.

How it operates

While Mac Defender is advertised as an anti-malware program, what it actually does is this – it promotes other unreliable software, and displays a huge amount of fake alerts and shady adverts. This PUP is known to use a convincing version of the OS X dialog message box, to make you think that it is necessary to install a specific kind of software on your Mac. And, it also points to a link where you can download the program in question. Often, the promoted programs will have a valid Apple developer certificate, easily macOS to not show any warning or notification about a possible danger of installing them. Mac Defender can also be seen under the following names: Mac Security, Mac Protector, Mac Guard, Mac Shield and FakeMacDef. This malicious software will even lie to you that it has detected virus activity on your Mac, which is not true. We advise against downloading, installing, or purchasing this programs or any kind of software it promotes. Don’t give them any personal information like name, address, bank account and credit card credentials, etc. In general, if your Mac has been infected by this Potentially Unwanted Program, you may notice the following symptoms: lagging, unresponsive browser, slow internet connection, frequent web app crashes, abnormal quantity of advertisements, unauthorized installation of browser extensions, toolbars, add-ons, etc. The longer this malicious software is allowed to stay on your Mac, the worse your situation will get. You may even put your personal information in jeopardy! Act now and get rid of the Mac Defender program!

Staying safe from Mac Defender PUP

Apart from having a reliable AV software installed on your Mac, there are other things you can do to ensure your device’s safety. We highly recommend you to:

  • Pay close attention when you install third-party software, especially torrent files, so you don’t install shady additional applications that you don’t want. In most cases, that’s how malicious parasites are able to infect your computer;
  • Read any Terms and Conditions you see, so you know exactly what you agree to. The last thing you want is to unknowingly give permission to a nasty virus to infiltrate your Mac;
  • Follow links that lead to trustworthy sites only;
  • It is best to visit only reliable and official websites. You never know what dangers might lurk behind an unfamiliar site;
  • No matter how attractive an ad is, if you are not familiar with the website it redirects to, it might be best to steer clear of it and not click;
  • Always check the sender’s email address before opening a message. If it states that it’s from an official company, compare the email with the one given in their official page. If there is no match, delete the message, since it most likely is fake and has malicious aims;
  • Don’t open email attachments from unknown senders. More often than not, such files carry infections that can seriously damage your computer.

How to manually remove Mac Defender PUP from Mac

If you’ve had the misfortune of getting your Mac infected with the Mac Defender PUP, the instructions below can help you to remove it manually. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Go to Utilities. You can do that by using the ⇧+⌘+U key combination, or by going to Finder and choosing Utilities from the Go main menu at the top.

2. Find Activity Monitor and double-click it.

3. A list will be displayed. Find any processes that seem suspicious to you and use the ‘Force Quit‘ option to quit them completely.

4. Open Finder. Click on the Go button from the main menu at the top, and choose Applications. An alternative way is to use the ⇧+⌘+A key combination.

5. Look for any suspicious applications, especially ones with a name similar to Mac Defender. If any are found, right-click on them and select the ‘Move to Trash‘ option.

6. Remove any related left-over files by going to Finder‘s search bar and typing the name of the app you want to remove. Make sure to modify the two drop down menus above to ‘System Files‘ and ‘Are Included‘, so that any hidden files are visible for you to remove. Once you find the files you want to remove, simply drag them to Trash.

7. All that’s left for you to do is remove any related extensions to Mac Defender from your Mac browsers.

For Mozilla Firefox extensions:

  • Open the Firefox browser and from the ‘burger’ menu in the top right corner of the window select ‘Add-ons’.
  • Select any suspicious extensions that may be related to the virus and click ‘Remove’.

For Google Chrome extensions:

  • Open the Chrome browser and select Tools > Extensions from the menu (the three dots in the top right corner of the browser window).
  • Locate any suspicious extensions that may be related to the virus and remove them.

For Safari extensions:

  • Open the Safari browser. From the Safari menu choose Preferences. Select Extensions from the options at the top.
  • Find any extensions you think are related to the virus, select them and click ‘Uninstall’. A new window will show up asking for confirmation. Click Uninstall again, for the extension to get deleted permanently from your browser.

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