Randy Singer

As recently as a year ago adware (which is software that serves up unexpected and unwanted ads, usually in your browser) was just about nonexistent on the Macintosh. Recently there has been an explosion of adware for the Mac. I've had to help someone with an adware problem just about every day for the past week or two.

Where does adware come from? That's the really disappointing thing, it comes from a number of sources that you might have thought were safe.

C/Net's serves up adware:

Softonic, previously a legitimate source from which to download Macintosh software, now includes adware with many downloads:

The highly rated, and free, anti-virus program for the Macintosh, Avast, surreptitiously installs adware:
TheSafeMac Web site recommends:
"...strongly recommend that you uninstall Avast, if you have it installed. Be sure to use the most recent Avast uninstaller to properly remove all components of this software."

Unfortunately, most (all?) of the anti-virus utility developers don't consider adware to be "malware". That is, they don't consider adware to be doing anything malicious. Technically, adware doesn't harm you or your Mac in any way. So, their products don't look for or handle adware and so they aren't a solution for avoiding adware.

And Apple has yet to do anything about adware. OS X's built-in anti-virus system, X-Protect, doesn't block most adware at all.

Fortunately, for now, if you do find your Mac infected with adware (which will be obvious, because you will find pop-up ads coming up all the time when you visit certain Web sites in your browser), you can clean your Mac of them quickly, easily, and for free, using:

AdwareMedic (free)

(I recommend that you run AdwareMedic even if you don't suspect that you have adware. You may have it, and have not even realized it. One person told me that they just thought that Safari had gone bad.)

I just worry about what will happen when the flood of adware becomes too much for the small company that developed AdwareMedic to keep up with.

I recommend that everyone contact Apple and request that they update X-Protect to look for and block adware: