If you think that you’re safe from malware just because you’re using Mac, then you’re in for a nasty surprise. macOS, just like other platforms, is also susceptible to malware infection. There have been previous cases when macOS was particularly targeted by malware and these events highlighted the vulnerabilities that the platform has. Even though macOS may not be as vulnerable as Windows, the threat malware brings is still the same.
One of the most recent threats to macOS is the Libexec virus. Several Mac users have reported encountering this malware on their computers. This malware is quite sneaky because you won’t be able to detect the Libexec Mac virus until you’ve seen some noticeable symptoms. By then, the virus would have already wreaked havoc on your Mac for some time without you even knowing its presence.
When this virus infects a computer, the user might notice annoying ads popping up all over the place or several applications crash for no reason at all. There are also others who notice mysterious programs appearing on their Macs all of a sudden. These are signs that your computer has been infected by the Libexec virus.
What is the Libexec Mac Virus?
Libexec virus is a type of malicious software that belongs to the popular AdLoad malware family. This group of malware targets macOS exclusively, exploiting the operating system’s vulnerabilities. The malware is usually delivered through a third-party app that gets installed together with a freeware acquired from a malware-infected website.
It is possible that the unwanted app has been installed after the user has been tricked into clicking fake app update prompts. These fake update prompts might include Java installations, Adobe Flash Player, or other apps. A message usually pops up asking you to update your current version, when in fact, clicking the ad actually downloads the Libexec virus to your computer.
Once installed, the Libexec takes advantage of the AppleScript feature to execute shell scripts in the background and download additional payloads without your knowledge.
Libexec does its dirty work in the background, making it hard to detect its presence. Because of this, users will only notice some weird symptoms that get worse over time. Here are some of the strange things you might notice when your Mac is infected with the Libexec virus:
- Your browser’s homepage, search engine, add-ons, and other settings might be changed all of a sudden. This applies not only to Safari, but Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera as well.
- You get redirected to websites with a lot of pop-up or banner ads.
- You are asked to purchase a license for some suspicious apps or tools.
- You notice an unusual spike in your network activity.
- Your computer is overheating, which means that there are many processes running on your computer.
- You suddenly get insufficient RAM or storage space even if you aren’t doing anything on your computer.
The Libexec Mac virus affects the /usr/libexec/trustd folder, where the name of the malware comes from. The Libexec folder is a legitimate macOS directory that stores system daemons and system utilities that are executed by other programs. The binaries stored in this folder are designed for the consumption of other apps and are not meant to be executed directly by the user.
The Libexec virus takes advantage of this folder’s purpose to store malicious executable files in the folder to do its dirty deed. Although it might be difficult to detect the Libexec Mac virus, there are several users who reported getting a pop-up message every ten minutes. The error message reads:
Infection: User: _analyticsd Process: /usr/libexec/xpcproxy File: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CoreAnalytics.framework/Support/analyticsd
Keep in mind that not all users get this notification warning them of a malware infection. But if you notice any of these symptoms and you suspect the presence of the Libexec virus on your computer, then you should do all you can to remove it from your computer immediately.
What Does the Libexec Mac Virus Do?
As part of the PUP.Optional.AdLoad family of malware, the main goal of this virus is to generate revenue by delivering unsolicited advertisements to unsuspecting users. These ads are injected directly into the user’s browser through the Libexec extension or the Libexec app.
To do this, the Libexec Mac virus performs multiple changes to the macOS operating system, including implementing some changes to the web browsers. As a result, you may find unexpected add-ons or plugins installed on your browser or your homepage might be set to something different.
Once it is working in the background, the Libexec virus will try to connect to several websites in order to deliver advertisements, based on the user’s preferences, buying habits, interests, and location. For example, a user in the UK will see mostly UK commercial content, while a user in China will be delivered ads in Chinese. Hence, users are usually advised to refrain from clicking pop-up ads as doing so may result in the installation of even more adware or malware.
One of the most dangerous aspects of the Libexec virus is its information-gathering capability. In most cases of adware infections, sensitive data is collected in the background, including the user’s IP address, search history, geo-location websites visited, system information, links clicked, ads interacted with, and installed apps and their versions. Aside from this, Libexec malware also gathers sensitive information, such as credit card details, banking information, and login credentials of various accounts. The virus then transmits this sensitive information to unknown parties or cybercriminals.
How to Remove the Libexec Mac Virus
When you get the Libexec virus on your Mac, it would take some time before you notice anything and by that time, the virus would have embedded itself into your system completely. To remove the virus, you need to follow our Libexec Mac virus removal guide below and execute the steps carefully to avoid data loss or accidental deletion of important files.
If you’re having issues uninstalling the apps or deleting the infected files, you need to do the following steps first to resolve this problem:
- Run your anti-malware software to scan your Mac, not just for the Libexec virus, but for other malware as well. Remove the detected infections using the antivirus, if you can. If you’re having trouble using the anti-malware software, proceed to the next step.
- Boot into Safe Mode by pressing the Shift key when you restart your computer. This should prevent third-party apps from running and enable you to carry out the uninstallation and deletion of the infected files unhindered.
- Use a Mac cleaning software to delete leftover files by the virus and to optimize your system.
These three steps should be able to resolve a simple Libexec Mac virus from your Mac. But if the infection has been entrenched deeply and other apps or folders have been infected, follow our Libexec Mac virus removal steps below.
How to Prevent Future Libexec Mac Virus Infection
You’ve probably realized by now how troublesome and how dangerous the Libexec virus is. To prevent the same thing from happening in the future, here are some security steps you can implement:
- Install new apps from legitimate sources only, such as the Mac App Store. You can also download the installer from the app developer’s website.
- When installing an app, do not rush through steps. Read every step, especially the fine print.
- Keep watch for pre-ticked boxes, suspicious offers, fine print text, glaring buttons, and other misleading elements.
- Choose Advanced/Custom installation instead of Recommended/Basic/Quick when prompted.
- Install a trustworthy anti-malware software that can protect your Mac at all times.
- Get rid of Flash. It has been replaced by HTML5 for a long time now and most websites have switched to this new technology. Adobe will also be phasing out Flash from its apps soon.
And most importantly, be cautious. Practice safe internet browsing protocols to avoid getting infected by the Libexec Mac virus and other types of malware.
A Computer Engineer by degree and a writer by profession, Cathy Trimidal writes for Software Tested and Outbyte. For years now, she has contributed articles focusing on the trends in IT, VPN, web apps, SEO, and digital marketing. Although she spends most of her days living in a virtual realm, she still finds time to satisfy her infinite list of interests.