Adware-like infection. How to detect and remove it from Firefox?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by P Goo, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. P Goo, Aug 15, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2012

    P Goo macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2012
    I have seen a few threads on adware and Macs, and didn't see any solutions to my problem. I was also overwhelmed by the overlying discussions on Macs and viruses/trojans/malware/adware. I'm sorry if this has been answered elsewhere.

    There is something wrong with my Mac regarding ads.
    When using YouTube on Firefox, I receive pop-up like ads that obscure the video I am watching as well as some of the video controls. It is extremely inconvenient and is ruining YT for me.

    I really don't think I'm just experiencing ads. For one, why would ads be popping up over the product (the video) AND other ads? I can open the ads, but I can't ever pop out of them (without closing the window). Also, this is only happening on Firefox.

    There's obviously a quick fix to this: change browsers. However, I don't want to just ignore this problem.

    I understand that adware/malware is extremely rare, and I am reading many posts that say viruses and trojans don't exist.

    I'm admittedly not computer savvy, and I don't have a great understanding of the differences between trojans/malware/adware/botnets/etc. I'm not making any value statements on Macs susceptibility to viruses and the like. But I have something.

    I haven't torrented software before, but earlier this summer I did dl an episode of a TV show because I missed part of it when someone came to my door. It took several tries, and I might have enabled a java applet or something, and I think I remember wondering why two files seemed to come up on my computer for a single video.

    So I already screwed up
    ...I'm guessing that's where I caught whatever this is (I only just now realized that the problem I'm having isn't normal on YT, when I used a friends computer and asked why he didn't have those obnoxious ads covering the other ads).

    So having already let the problem in, where can I go from here? I tried deleting some plug ins and downloads. I have been using FFMpegx and MacTheRipper without incidient for over 6months, so I don't think these are the problems, but it's possible I absent-mindedly allowed other codecs on my computer. I really can't pinpoint when the trouble started, as it was a few months ago.

    I tried erasing Mozilla and reinstalling, but that didn't help. Safari has no problem, even after I ran YT with java enabled for a brief test.

    I'd prefer not to use an ad blocker as the solution because it will just cover up the symptoms and I don't mind well placed ads that don't render a website useless.

    Thank you for reading the thread.

    ADDED: I forgot to mention that around when I think this started, someone left a message on my YT account which was flagged as spam.
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Get some good adblockers installed. Whether you like them or not, that's the only way you're going to effectively restrict ads from displaying. They have nothing to do with malware.
    Mac OS X viruses do not exist in the wild. Trojans and other malware does exist.

    Macs are not immune to malware, but no true viruses exist in the wild that can run on Mac OS X, and there never have been any since it was released over 10 years ago. The only malware in the wild that can affect Mac OS X is a handful of trojans, which can be easily avoided by practicing safe computing (see below). Also, Mac OS X 10.6 and later versions have anti-malware protection built in, further reducing the need for 3rd party antivirus apps.
    1. Make sure your built-in Mac firewall is enabled in System Preferences > Security > Firewall

    2. Uncheck "Open "safe" files after downloading" in Safari > Preferences > General

    3. Disable Java in your browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox). This will protect you from malware that exploits Java in your browser, including the recent Flashback trojan. Leave Java disabled until you visit a trusted site that requires it, then re-enable only for the duration of your visit to that site. (This is not to be confused with JavaScript, which you should leave enabled.)

    4. Change your DNS servers to OpenDNS servers by reading this.

    5. Be careful to only install software from trusted, reputable sites. Never install pirated software. If you're not sure about an app, ask in this forum before installing.

    6. Never let someone else have access to install anything on your Mac.

    7. Don't open files that you receive from unknown or untrusted sources.

    8. For added security, make sure all network, email, financial and other important passwords are long and complex, including upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

    9. Always keep your Mac and application software updated. Use Software Update for your Mac software. For other software, it's safer to get updates from the developer's site or from the menu item "Check for updates", rather than installing from any notification window that pops up while you're surfing the web.
    That's all you need to do to keep your Mac completely free of any Mac OS X malware that has ever been released into the wild. While you may elect to use it, 3rd party antivirus software is not required to keep your Mac malware-free.
  3. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    Adblock Plus is pretty good and invisible (i use this add-on, do not know, 3 or 4 years). NoScript is also necessary, for some sites.
  4. P Goo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2012
    Thank you both.

    The adblock is a great suggestion if the problem were in-site ads, but that is not what is bothering me. This would be a great solution, I think, for most people, who don't want to see any ads. I do want to see ads.

    I was troubled because around the time of being lax with security, a website was more or less inoperable and something just wasn't right. I had that same feeling I used to get way back when those pop up ads would beget more pop up ads until you had to shut down your computer.

    I should have included a screenshot, to better express how obvious it was that these were not normal ads.

    I did find a way around it (while keeping Firefox). Looking at one of the responses, posted by somebody who obviously knew a lot more about malware than I did, I could concede that I didn't have an ad/malware problem, but knew something was wrong. It prompted me to look into the patch for the Flashback problem (which I knew I didn't have), and in the process stumbled upon a solution.

    I hadn't disabled Java on my Mac, just on Safari and Firefox. Once I went to Applications->Utililites>Java Preferences and unchecked everything, Firefox went back to showing only the normal ads.

    Thank you for time. While I'm not satisfied that I haven't made myself very vulnerable on the internet, I feel better having found a systemic cure that I wouldn't have come up with without the posts in this thread.

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