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One of the best things about macOS is that it’s incredibly secure and gets far fewer viruses than other operating systems. However, that doesn’t mean it’s immune. There have been plenty of incidents of malware harming Macs in recent years. Thankfully, though, it’s still relatively rare for Macs to be infected with spyware, and when it happens, it’s not too difficult to get rid of it.
The controversy over Cambridge Analytica accessing the Facebook profiles of tens of millions of users has made the importance of our private data headline news. However, while Facebook providing access to your data to third parties may be undesirable and possibly unethical, it’s not illegal. On the other hand, using spyware to access information about you is illegal in many countries.
- Aug 21, 2020 To protect your web browsers from ads, you should employ an ad-blocker. There are plenty of free options available, and you will be able to be safe while browsing YouPorn, RedTube, PornHub, Xvideos, and many others. Nonetheless, it is important to note that ad-block cannot prevent 100% of the ads from being displayed.
- Although spyware authored for the Mac has similar behaviors as the Windows variety, most of the Mac spyware attacks are either password stealers or general-purpose backdoors. In the latter category, the spyware.
- Avira Free Security is an all-in-one security tool for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS that that keeps your devices free of viruses, ransomware, and spyware. Powered by a smart scan, it scans your devices for threats, unsecure networks, software vulnerabilities, and performance optimizations, then fixes issues with one click.
- AdGuard can block domains known to spread malware, protecting your computer against viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spyware and adware. AdGuard really lowers the risk of virus infections and prohibits.
What is spyware?
Spyware is malicious code that finds its way onto your computer and then sucks up personal data — that could be personal information about you, financial details, keystrokes, web browsing habits, or even images from your webcam.
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There are four main types of spyware:
Adware is probably the most common type of spyware. It’s also the most obvious because the information gathered by the spyware is used to display adverts or pop-up windows. It’s very frustrating and hugely inconvenient, though it’s unlikely to do real damage to you or your Mac.
This is what adware actually looks like
As you can see, it executes commands to 'download offers' that a user will see on their computer.
Trojans are files that look legitimate, like software updates or movies, and they’re designed to fool users into downloading them. Once you’ve done that, they will access your personal data and could do serious harm to your Mac.
3. Cookie trackers
Cookie trackers are similar to adware in that they are used to track your browsing habits and web searches. That information can then be used to display adware or for any other reason the hacker chooses.
A keylogger is a piece of code, usually installed without the user’s knowledge or permission, that tracks what keys are pressed. By doing that, the keylogger can gain access to personal data such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information.
How to remove spyware from Mac
Thankfully, while spyware is very annoying and potentially damaging, it’s usually not too difficult to remove.
1. Scan your Mac with CleanMyMac X
Use a dedicated tool like CleanMyMac X to find and neutralize spyware on your Mac. CleanMyMac removes spyware and all other malware threats, such as ransomware, worms, and cryptocurrency miners. Therefore, when you scan your system with CleanMyMac X, you may be sure that all vulnerabilities will be identified.
Here’s how to use it:
- Download the free version of CleanMyMac and launch the app.
- Choose the Malware Removal tab.
- Click Scan.
- Click Remove.
Talking about CleanMyMac X, I can't recommend its Malware Monitor feature enough. Checking your Mac in real-time, CleanMyMac X notifies you when there is a risk of spyware infecting your machine. What it does exactly is monitor Launch Agents and other places on your Mac for any unauthorized presence. That's a bit like a gatekeeper.
2. Update your Mac to the latest version
macOS has built-in tools to remove known malware, including spyware.
- Go to the Apple menu and click About this Mac.
- Click Software Update. If you’re not running the latest macOS version, you’ll see a software update waiting to be installed. Click Update and follow the instructions.
- If you are running the latest version of macOS and no update is available, restart your Mac. When it restarts, it will scan for known malware and remove it.
3. Check your Applications folder
Go to the Applications folder on your Mac and look for applications you don’t recognize. If you see any, you should uninstall them. However, don’t just drag them to the Trash, that won’t uninstall them properly and will leave potentially harmful files behind. Instead, use an app like CleanMyMac X to uninstall them.
CleanMyMac uninstalls applications completely, removing all traces of it from your Mac. You can download it free here. Once you’ve downloaded and installed it, do the following:
- Launch it from your Applications folder.
- Click on Uninstaller in the Utilities section.
- Scroll through the list of applications until you find the one you want to get rid of.
- Check the box next to it.
- Click Uninstall.
3. Get rid of browser extensions you don’t need
Some spyware is installed in the form of browser extensions. These are mini-programs that run alongside web browsers like Safari and Chrome and provide additional features. They can be very useful, but they can also be troublesome if they’re installed without your knowledge or permission.
Here’s how to get rid of Safari extensions you didn’t install or don’t need:
- Launch Safari.
- Click on the Safari menu and choose Preferences.
- Click on the Extensions tab and look through the list of extensions. If you see one you didn’t install or don’t want, click on it and press the Uninstall button.
- Repeat for every extension you want to uninstall.
The process is similar for Chrome:
- Enter this
chrome://extensions/into the search bar and press Enter.
- Review your extensions.
- Click Remove to delete those you don't need.
Along with browser extensions, it’s also worth getting rid of cookies you don’t want as well. And the app we’ve mentioned above, CleanMyMac X, can help you with that:
- Click on the Privacy tool.
- Click Scan.
- Click on the name of the browser.
- Click the drop-down arrow next to Cookies.
- Check the box next to the cookies you want to get rid of.
- Click Remove.
The last resort is to restore from a backup, either Time Machine or a third-party backup tool. Assuming you’ve been running a regular backup schedule, you can just choose a snapshot from just before you noticed the spyware and restore from that. You should copy any documents you created or updated since the snapshot to another storage drive or online service first.
Spyware sounds scary, and it can potentially damage both you and your Mac. However, in most cases, getting rid of it is not too difficult. And with the help of CleanMyMac X it could actually be very easy.
Ads are the cornerstone of the digital economy. That’s why blocking them becomes more difficult each year. And, sadly, ad blockers cannot eliminate all ads that keep popping up on your screen. In this article, we’ll teach you a few methods of reducing web pop-ups, and we’ll take a look at some of the best Mac ad blocking options.
Yes, Macs might be safer from viruses and malware, but not from ads, adware, pop-ups, and cookies that help advertisers retarget ads at you wherever you go. Digital adverts are everywhere. The more time you spend online, the more you will see, even embedded in apps and Facebook messenger.
But first, what are the sources of ads on Mac?
- Extensions & plugins
- In-app notifications
- Google Display Network
- Browser hijackers
A more effective way to remove ads on Mac is to clear out potential web pop-ups that continue to direct ads to your Mac. Unfortunately, what this usually means is you are infected with malware. Some signs of this include:
- More pop-ups and ads than you would normally expect when browsing the web;
- Suddenly getting redirected away from a page, you were visiting;
- ‘Recommended updates’ and other indicators that you need a certain piece of seemingly legitimate software.
Why remove ads?
Blocking ads don't just improve your browsing experience. It could also prevent malware and other viruses from gaining a foothold in your Mac. Cybercriminals are getting smarter. They need to find clever ways to steal data, find your payment details, passwords, and sell or make use of this online.
It is worth installing anti-virus to add another layer of protection to your Mac. Adware scripts (that you may not be aware of) drain your browser memory. This renders even a new Mac unbearably slow. The good news is Mac anti-viruses are too getting smarter these days.
For example, CleanMyMac X by MacPaw has found a niche in removing macOS-specific viruses. Its anti-virus database lists a few hundred of the latest adware infections.
Now, onto the issue of finding the most suitable solutions for blocking ads.
How to remove ads on Mac?
- Block ads in Safari
Safari users have huge control over pop-ups in this browser. Safari lets you manage the list of websites allowed to show pop-ups and then blocks pop-up windows on those particular sites. To set these restrictions, go to Safari Preferences, choose the Websites tab, and block pop-ups on the currently open websites.
Safari does all it can to prevent pop-ups and any fraudulent website warnings. These are ads that use phishing techniques to make you think you need to download something from Apple or other legitimate software companies. We will outline ways to remove these nasty pieces of software further down this article.
Another way to remove pop-ups in Safari is to check Extensions. You should find this menu option in the same place and should have the same option to remove any browser extensions that you don't want or need. You should recognize every extension because, at one point, you would have had to agree to download and install (Safari doesn't let it happen any other way); malware and other viruses hide in other places across your Mac, so they are unlikely to appear with other browser extensions.
When you are browsing the web, and a pop-up appears, Apple recommends going to a new browser tab and closing the original. This is because interacting with a pop-up could cause you to click through to it or accidentally download malicious software. Many pop-ups are legitimate adverts; however, some are there to trick people, with ‘close’ buttons that send web visitors through to the link, with some of them ending up in a rough neighborhood of the web.
Destroying hidden adware extensions
Some extensions behave more covertly than that. For example, there are entities called launch agents that play a supporting role for other apps on your Mac. And after you’ve deleted the main app, its launch agent could still be bombarding you with notifications.
To find such hidden extensions on your Mac, you may use a free version of CleanMyMac X.
- Install the CleanMyMac X and open it.
- Open the tab called “Extensions.”
- Find all suspicious items and click Remove.
Look through the tabs under Internet Plugins and Preference Panes. Be vigilant: adware may have perfectly innocent names.
Common adware extensions
Some of the most common include VSearch, Conduit, Genieo, GoPhoto, Jollywallet, Savekeep, MacShop, Yontoo, Shopper Helper Pro, Slick Savings, PallMall, and Awesome Screenshot. These malicious pieces of tech are bundled into other seemingly legitimate downloads or email attachments, even social media images, and videos, and once you've clicked accept, most anti-virus programs believe the Mac user approves them.
2. How to remove ads from Google Chrome
Always make sure you are using the most up-to-date version of Chrome. Security updates prevent some of the latest viruses and cyber threats, making it always worthwhile to click 'yes' to an update.
To manage pop-ups in Chrome, enter
chrome://settings into the browser address bar and go to 'Privacy and security.' Here, click 'Site Settings.' Next, make sure the 'Pop-ups and redirects' are blocked.
Now, let's check your extensions and make sure there are no adware-related ones.
- Launch the Chrome browser.
- Enter this line into the address bar:
If you find any extension you either don't need or don't recognize, click the Remove button.
Now, we'll reset settings to refresh your Chrome
- Click Chrome > Preferences... (in the top menu).
- Click on Advanced > Reset settings.
Now everything that was causing pop-ups and unwanted ads to appear, including software that uses phishing tactics and browser extensions that are a cover for malware, should be removed.
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3. Block ads in Firefox
Make sure you are using the latest version of Firefox. Preventing the latest cyber threats is one of the main reasons software companies insist on so many updates.
To make sure pop-ups are disabled in Firefox, enter
about:preferences the browser address bar. Then, go to Privacy&Security. Here, check the box next to 'Block pop-up windows.'
To check for malicious extensions in Firefox, you can follow this set of steps:
- Launch Firefox.
- Enter this line into the address bar and press Enter:
- This takes you to the Add-ons Manager page. In the left-hand side pane, you will find Extensions. If you find anything suspicious or that you don't need anymore, click the three-dot icon and select Remove.
- To reset Firefox, go to Help and select Troubleshooting Information.
- On this page, click Refresh Firefox.
With that done, all add-ons and extensions will be automatically removed, which should remove a lot of the problems caused by unwanted ads and pop-ups.
Remove adware with CleanMyMac X
So far, we've been using the built-in security tools of your browser. But to fully eliminate ads, you'll likely need a dedicated ad cleaner. Most ad blockers block ad offers proactively, and this is fine. But to deal with adware infections, you will need to detect their existing presence on your Mac somehow.
CleanMyMac X is a tool that has been notarized by Apple. You can use it in 3 ways:
- To delete browser extensions (including the hidden ones)
- Uninstall apps that could contain ads
- Detect malware and viruses
According to 'Objective by the Sea' (a security conference), 20% of Macs contain PUPs or potentially unwanted applications. This type of malware is exactly what CleanMyMac X detects. It also checks for hidden cryptocurrency miners, spyware, and worms that are also found on Macs.
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- Launch CleanMyMac X.
- Choose Malware Removal in the sidebar.
While you are in CleanMyMac X, choose Uninstaller in the sidebar. It will dig out all software that is installed on your Mac. This includes normally hidden and unused apps.
You may also want to download ad-blocking software, so here are a few that are recommended.
Use third-party Ad blockers
1. AdBlock Plus (ABP) is a popular option to block ads in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. It comes with custom filters, including a “non-intrusive advertising” whitelist, so you can keep helping media and websites you like while not seeing ads and pop-ups you don’t.
2. AdBlock - not related to ABP - has Safari, Chrome, and Opera options. Ads are blocked from known ad servers, and you can add others to your blacklist while maintaining a whitelist, similar to ABP.
3. AdBlocker Ultimate comes with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and is proud to have taken no money from media companies and blocks everything it possibly can. AdBlocker Ultimate also blocks known malware, adware, and tracking domains.
There are, of course, dozens of more options for how to remove ads on Mac. Safe to say, your browser should be an ad, pop-up, and malware-free if you take the steps outlined in this article.
Frequently asked questions
Malware Blocker For Mac
How to find out what app is causing pop-ups?
It’s not often apparent what app is showing pop-ups on your Mac. The best way to detect malicious app or programs is to scan your Mac with antivirus software. For example, you can run a malware scan with CleanMyMac X. It identifies the malicious agents and offers immediate removal.
How to get rid of Google ads?
Google ads are usually displayed on various websites, and unfortunately, you can’t completely close or control them manually. However, you could use some of the ad blockers we listed above. They block all pop-ups and banners that appear on most websites.