How to get rid of PUP malware on a Mac?

PUPs are potentially unwanted programs that you do not want to have on your Mac. There are PUPs, such as the PUP.Optional.Mindspark malware, acting like viruses. Others, take over web browsers and act as a gateway for other more serious malware or adware.

Oftentimes, you agree to download PUPs on the promise that this new program will make your Mac run faster. Or give your browser stunning and handy new features. Exaggerated and crazy promises are always that; crazy, and full of lies. 

In reality, PUPs cause problems and take up your Mac processing power. It spams your browser with advertising posing serious security risks. In this article, we take a closer look at PUPs and how to save your Mac from these unwanted and potentially dangerous programs. 

What can PUPs do? 

Firstly, PUP is a virus and most anti-virus systems will also classify them as viruses to save web browser users from unwanted stress. 

A recent example of a PUP virus is PUP.Optional.Mindspark. Produced by IAC/InterActiveCorp, an online media company that generates revenue from advertising, it claims to provide a web browser toolbar and browser start pages that give users the chance to win money through sweepstakes or online games. 

If you've installed something like that — then some of the following might sound familiar: 

  • More offers of games and advertising than you would normally see on a web browser
  • Adverts and popups that take over web pages prevent you from accessing content
  • Popups advertising free games or software to try, along with high-stakes and low-risk gambling offers
  • Adverts suddenly appear when you fill out forms or enter a passwords 

what is megabackup

Now, this is all pretty annoying, but is it really that dangerous? 

Potentially, yes, a PUP is putting your Mac at risk. If you are experiencing any of the above it means your browser has been hijacked. Even if it is not doing any harm right now, it could still act as a backdoor into your Mac, a way for cybercriminals to steal sensitive details. 

A PUP can also hijack the CPU and GPU (the processing power your Mac needs) to use your computer as part of an illegal cryptocurrency mining operation. PUP.Optional.Mindspark I've mentioned a couple of times already is just one example of dozens of similar PUPs or potentially dangerous online viruses. 

How to remove PUP.Optional.Mindspark from Mac? 

There are two ways you can remove a PUP, such as PUP.Optional.Mindspark on a Mac: manually, or with a little help. 

Option 1: The quick way 

  1. Download CleanMyMac X (do this here, for free)
  2. Click on the Malware Removal tab 
  3. Let CleanMyMac X scan for viruses and unwanted programs (PUPs)
  4. It will alert you what it has found, so now you can safely delete them. 

Option 2: Manually 

PUPs are almost always found within the plugins section of web browsers. That is how they create new toolbars for themselves and take over browsers. To remove them, follow these steps: 

Uninstall from Safari 

  1. Go to Safari > Preferences 
  2. Click on Extensions 
  3. Pick the Extension that you don't recognize to delete 
  4. Click Uninstall. Confirm that you want to Uninstall the extension 

Remove from Chrome

  1. Open Chrome 
  2. Go to the Menu in your browser > Settings > Extensions
  3. Pick the Extension that you don't recognize to delete 
  4. Click Remove. Confirm that you want to remove the extension

Remove from Firefox

  1. Open Firefox 
  2. Go to the Menu in your browser 
  3. Click on the Add-ons and themes > Extensions. Select the Extension you want to remove.
  4. Click Remove. Confirm that you want to delete it 

Now that you’ve removed the extension from your browsers, you need to search through several files to clear out any trace of it.

  1. Open Finder and choose Go > Go to Folder.
  2. Now you can paste in the following locations on your Mac:
    • /Applications
    • /Library/Internet Plug-Ins
    • /Library/LaunchAgents/
    • /Library/ScriptingAdditions/

      Always be careful when looking for plugins and PUPs. How they're labeled in one folder might not always be the same in another. Be careful not to delete anything important by mistake. 

      Whether you go the manual route or download an app to help, the good news is PUPs are fairly easy to remove, unlike other more dangerous viruses. The main mistake is leaving PUP for too long on your Mac. Why? Because through it the more dangerous viruses can crawl in. So removing it sooner rather than later is a great idea. 

      There are many apps that fight potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). You may try Malwarebytes or CleanMyMac X. Both have a pretty solid PUP database. Here you can download a free copy of CleanMyMac X, which also comes with a handy and time-saving Malware Removal tool.

      Laptop with CleanMyMac
      CleanMyMac X

      Your Mac. As good as new.