Lurking around the interwebs the past few years is a scam; a browser-based pop-up window scam which tells you that your Mac has been infected with a virus and you need to call a specific phone number for assistant. Can you imagine how many unwitting Mac users may have done just that? Why? Because the pop-up window cannot be closed. Here’s a fixe and a prevention.
They Shoot Scammers, Don’t They?
The actual fix– the one that doesn’t cost money– should be to close the pop up because the warning is a scam. There is no virus. But the pop up window won’t close and you can’t use Safari; pages just won’t load. You’re stuck. There are some cumbersome, non-intuitive ways around the pop up window, but the easiest way is ScamZapper, a free Mac utility which prevents the bogus technical support pop up from locking up Safari.
The pop up warnings that infect Safari are blocked before they activate. ScamZapper is not an ad blocker, though because it blocks pop ups, might also block some ads. The way the app works is straightforward. It’s actually an app that installs an extension in Safari that blocks the scam pop ups.
That also means that if one pop up gets through and locks up Safari, the app can be used to walk you through a solution to rid your browser of the offending script.
All of this protection is free and even runs on older Macs using PowerPC chips. It also detects when a website tries to redirect Safari to an offending website and then lets you know even that page has been blocked.
Why is this free utility so valuable?
I work as a Mac and PC system administrator and support tech for a private school in Chicago and we have many hundreds of computers in use during the day– Macs, Windows PCs, Chromebooks, plenty of iPads, and even a few Samsung Galaxy Tab tablets (by the way; Chromebooks don’t do much, but they’re also mostly trouble and support free, while students and staff have little finding ways to infect their PCs). It doesn’t take long for one online mishap to translate into dozens of copycat problems, so a simple script like ScamZapper that zaps the problem before it gets far is a godsend.