The Macarena virus: Is it dangerous?

What is the Macarena virus, and how to remove it?

Unlike malware designed for Windows devices, in 2006, Macarena was rare enough to catch mainstream media attention, and dozens of antivirus and security analysts dissected it in blogs. Discussion of it even went viral on Digg, which was popular at the time in the tech and startup community in the U.S. and UK.

Macarena was described as a proof-of-concept (POC) macro virus. It fits within the malware or worm family of viruses. It was mainly exciting for the novelty factor, with security experts noting some of its potential capabilities. It can: “Infect other files when they are executed in the current directory, regardless of file name or extension.”

How did Macarena spread?

It is unknown how it spread, although file sharing and torrent websites were popular at the time, and it isn’t uncommon for viruses such as this to last for years in the wild without updates. New versions of it - especially when the source code is public - can be adapted as Apple updates its operating system. In order for your Mac to catch this infection or a modern variant, it already needs to have a virus of some kind, then will attach itself to the infected file.

According to those who analyzed the 672 bytes of source code, the virus includes the creator's digital signature: “MachoMan - roy g biv” - with a date - 26/10/06. Within the code was a comment by the developer: “To build this thing, I use Xcode, but it is really very buggy, and it needed lots of help to produce working code. So many problems for so little code.”

What does it do to Mac devices?

After examining this code, Sophos notes that “This is a proof-of-concept virus with minimal spreading ability. Frankly, you're more likely to be struck by lightning than troubled by Macarena,” says Graham Cluley, a Sophos senior technology consultant. “No-one should panic, and while this is an indication that hackers are showing an increased interest in targeting the Mac OS X platform, it is still a lot safer place to be than Windows.”

No reports existed outlining the impact of the infection. Indicating that this was a little virus that couldn’t, and it did not at the time pose a serious risk to Mac owners. There were also no reports of any contact with a command and control server; again, indicating that it was probably too early-stage in its development to cause a serious infection or steal and copy and data or passwords.

However, it doesn't mean that - if you had a Mac in 2006 - an early-version of this may not be lurking in the shadows (when data and settings are transferred over from one Mac to another). If that is the case, then it still needs removing. Even POC malware viruses can be a gateway for more robust, more dangerous, and modern malware viruses.

How to remove Macarena malware?

Unlike more modern malware viruses, this one does not come with dozens of complex executable files. If you are infected, it won’t be hiding in multiple places, which means it won’t be difficult to find.

It is worth searching from your Applications and Library folders. Look for anything that seems out of place. If you can take a glance into the source code, perhaps using Terminal or third-party software, it should show traces of those notes mentioned above.

Once you are sure this is the malware you seek - or another virus hiding within your Mac - drag the relevant files to Trash. Empty your Trash and for safety, restart your Mac. Always be careful when removing anything manually. Malware can be tricky, but you also run the risk of removing something you actually need.

Another way to remove malware, spyware, adware, and other viruses with CleanMyMac X.

CleanMyMac X is a powerful malware removal tool. It also works to improve the performance of a Mac, clearing out unwanted files and duplicates. Mac users often have up to 62GB of data they don't need, slowing down overall performance. 

CleanMyMac X - Smart Scan

With CleanMyMac X, your Mac runs as good as new and if you’ve got any malware infections, here is how you remove them:

  1. Download CleanMyMac X here.
  2. Click on the Malware Removal tab.
  3. Click Scan to scan for Macarena and any other infection.
  4. CleanMyMac X will show you what your Mac is infected with.
  5. Click Remove, and they will vanish for good.

CleanMyMac X is a powerful Mac malware removal tool. We keep a close eye on safety issues and update our Malware Database with the latest cyber threats, malware, adware, and viruses and ensure that Mac users can remove them as soon as they appear.

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.