Mac OS X is the operating system of choice used by Apple Corporation in all of their products. By design the Mac OS X is much more restrictive than its Windows counterpart – and this adds a great deal to its security. Unfortunately, no what man can create another man can destroy – or in the context of the IT industry – crack. There have already been released a number of Malware threats written specifically for the iPhone and iPad. The purpose of this article is to give you information, as well as the instructions needed to remove Malware on the iPhone and iPad.
None of the known Malware has been able to penetrate the core system and imbed itself into system files, but that will be of little consolation to people whose iOS device and specifically the Safari browser was infected by them. The different types of Malware can be broken down into several categories:
- Phishing scams that will report fake problems and demand that you contact a number to receive support.
- Pop-Ads that attached to Safari much like a Windows Adware virus would.
- Ads that may interfere directly with your apps – such as automatically opening the Appstore on a specific item.
- Malicious apps that will hijack your home page and your default search engine.
Needless to say clicking on any of the Ads Is never a good idea. Removing any Malware from your iPhone or iPad should be your top priority.
The Apple store is mostly safe, just not always
More often than not the reason behind iPhone/iPad malware infections are malicious websites. Apple maintains a tight control over the content uploaded to the App store and most content found there can be generally regarded as safe. Of course, there could always be some exceptions of the norm, but they are just that – exceptions that don’t happen that often. People who need instructions on how to remove malware from their iPhone usually installed some kind of foreign App on their device or visited an infected site.
Users who choose to jailbreak their iOS devices are in much greater risk than people who use their iPhone or iPad as is. Any App found outside the official store maintained by Apple could be infected with malware. Sometimes even safe Apps are stolen from the people who created them and redistributed in many more places with the malware added to them. Jail braking your iOS device definitely has some benefits, but Malware is definitely one of the risks attached to it.
An overview of the different types of Malware that plague iOS
The phishing scams appear to be the most common type of scamming scheme employed on the iPhone or iPad. This scam involves loading a pop-up message on your Safari browser. It will report some kind of problem – the specifics hardly matter because it’s fake anyway – and you will be asked to immediately contact Apple support for help. The number provided is actually serviced by the scammers. There are multiple ways through which you could get fleeced – added phone toll tax being the most common one.
- If you suspect your computer really has a problem and you’d prefer to call the real Apple support please visit the official Apple support page, where you can get the appropriate local number of your location!
There are actually two variations of pop-up Ads that have been spotted. One is a classical advertisement variation and it can be mildly annoying. The other way is much nastier – it involves redirecting you to various websites or linking to specific items on the App store. The redirection could be triggered on loading the home page, searching for anything online, visiting your email and other triggers. This type of Malware can have a very negative impact on the performance of your iOS device and also tend to be the most difficult to get rid of.
Here is a list of some of the commonly known Malware affecting iPhones and iPads. Note that Adware such as this tends to get released many times over by keeping the same functionality under a different name. Using the same removal method should work for all future version of the Malware.
- VSearch, Trovi, Conduit, MyBrand, Buca Apps, Search Protect, Downlite and many more operate on this principle.
Another very annoying type of Malware are the programs that are known as product recommenders. Actually this type of software may already be familiar to Windows users as PUP – Potentially Unwanted Programs. In reality it is a well-masqueraded Ads generating software that pretends to recommend you the best Apps. In reality they are recommending only Apps whose developers are paying them a fee and often these are the worst products on the market that cannot get any sales through conventional advertisement. Many of these are created by a conglomerate of companies involving the Israeli-based Genieo, Somoto and many others. Some of their products include:
- Genieo, InstallMac, OnlySearch, MacShop Ads Weknow.ac and more
How to get rid of pop-up Ads on iPhone and iPad
For a manual removal, first you need to close all pop-ups that are currently open.
- If the pop-up has a checkbox named “Don’t show more alerts from this webpage” click on the checkbox before closing the Ad.
- If a Block Alerts button happens to appear after you shut down a pop-up on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch tab that button to stop receiving alerts from the same page.
In case that a pop-up fails to close after performing the above operations:
- On your Mac you should make your Safari browser close forcibly by pressing Command-Option-Esc. Select Safari from the list of Apps and force close it. After you force close it you need to restart Safari, but please hold the shift button while it starts. This will prevent any pesky Ads from opening automatically.
- On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch you can do the same by pressing the home button twice in a quick succession. You’ll then see a preview of all apps that have been recently used. Swipe left to find Safari and then swipe up on the app’s preview to close it forcibly In order to prevent Safari from opening unwanted windows on startup go to Settings->Safari and Clear History, as well as Website Data. This will also clear your browser history and cookies so keep that in mind and export them if you want to keep them.
How to fortify your device against Adware infections?
The first step involves choosing Preferences from the Safari menu. Then do the following:
- Select the Security icon and then click on “Block pop-up windows”. This should stop many types of pop-ups from appearing.
- Next check on your homepage and the settings for the search engines. Adware likes messing with those.
- Select the General icon and look at the Homepage field. It should either be empty or filled with the address of the Homepage you want.
- Follow up on the Search icon. Again it should be either the default search engine or any that you have set for yourself. Note that in some versions of Safari these settings are found in the General panel/
Removing unwanted extensions on Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Open Safari and click on the Extensions button. Note that Adware uses extensions almost exclusively to inject the pop-up Ads into your browser. Any extension on this list that you do not remember installing yourself is likely planted there by the Adware. Remove ALL extensions you are unfamiliar with. Extensions currently known to cause unwanted pop-up ads include:
- Amazon Shopping Assistant by Spigot Inc.
- Shopy Mate
- Cinema-Plus Pro or variations such as Cinema + HD, Cinema + Plus, and Cinema Ploos
- Ebay Shopping Assistant by Spigot Inc.
- Slick Savings by Spigot Inc.
- Searchme by Spigot, Inc