Technology

A Wave of Emerging AdLoad Targets macOS Systems

A new family of notorious macOS adware is unleashing to target and attack macOS systems in 2021 specifically. The adware, known as “AdLoad,” has been around for a while, first detected as early as 2017. However, in late 2020 – early 2021 alone, it has released more than 150 new and unique samples that act as a loader for adware and bundleware.

The major problem is that this adware has already managed to slip past Apple’s on-device malware scanner and detector. In addition, some of these adware samples even succeeded in getting signed and notarized by Apple.

A few of these new samples were detected in the late months of 2020, but most of the attacks took place in July and August of this year (2021).

This drives us to the realization that adware is rapidly developing to be able to evade and slip past malware detection software which is extremely worrisome for Mac users as it can affect the smoothness of their workflow.

According to SentinelOne threat researcher Phil Stokes, the new versions of “AdLoad” target Mac users who completely rely on Apple’s built-in security control XProtect for malware detection.

The way this adware goes around Apple’s built-in malware scanner is by using different file extension patterns (e.g., .system , .service). This usage of certain extension patterns results in the installation of a persistence agent, which, consequently, triggers a chain of attacks to array malicious dispensers that cover up as a fake Player.app to install malicious software.

But how can you tell that a “AdLoad has infected your Mac device?”

There are various signs that your device was attacked by malware; here, we list out some of the most prominent ones.

Issues that Could Result from Malicious Adware

Adware could install malicious software on your device without you taking notice of it. That is why you should keep an eye out for these signs to know whether adware has infected your device or not:

  • Web pages not being displayed correctly.
  • Losing the copy and paste feature and getting the message Fix Sorry No Manipulations with Clipboard Allowed on Mac every time you attempt to copy and paste a text, file, or folder.
  • Getting an overwhelming amount of pop-up ads, even when you’re not browsing the internet sometimes.
  • System performance slowing down.
  • Your device crashing all of a sudden for no reason.
  • Internet speed becoming frustratingly slow.
  • Having your internet searches redirected.
  • The random appearance of a new toolbar or browser ad-on.

How to Protect Your Mac Device from Adware?

The newly-developed adware samples are dangerous and cause Mac users trouble that they could do without. But as adware advances, protection software also advances.

There are certain measures that you should take in order to keep your Mac device safe against threats. If you make sure to check all of them, you won’t need to worry about anything.

Some of these measures are:

  • Use a browser with a strong adblocker.
  • Install a reliable Virtual Private Network software (VPN) (we recommend Private Internet Access).
  • Download a MacBook cleaner software like MacKeeper to help you detect any malicious software.
  • Install a strong antivirus to protect your device against malware (you can read more about antiviruses in this comparison article Totalav VS Avast).

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