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Remove Apple Security Alert Scam from iOS and macOS

If you use an Apple device, you may have heard about the Apple security alert some users experience. Despite this, do not input personal information if you receive the alert. The Apple security alert is a usually a scam and you may put your personal information at risk if you take it seriously. Similarly, an Apple virus warning pop up is a scam too. 

Don’t worry, though. We’ll tell you everything you need to know to stay safe, and what to do if you see the alert. 

Woman stressed about apple security virus

What is the Apple Security Alert Scam?

While Apple will send you security threat alerts when it detects a problem, the Apple security alert scam is different. It shows as a pop-up message, saying you’ve been hacked and are at risk for having your important personal data stolen. This usually has a phone number or contact information to rectify the situation. Problem is, this is where the scammers ask you for that very same personal info that’s at “risk.” In other cases, they may urge you to click a link or download something, which is usually some form of malware. 

How to Tell if the Apple Security Alert is Fake

Are Apple security alerts real? Yes, in the sense that they will sometimes send you real “threat notifications,” such as if there is a state-sponsored attack from cybercriminals (thankfully rare), if someone is trying to get into your iCloud account, or if you’re about to visit a suspicious website. In the case of the suspicious website, you’ll see a message in your Safari browser saying, “Not Secure.” In other cases, they will use your email or iMessage to get a hold of you. Pop-up security alerts, however, are a big red flag that an attempted scam is taking place. Apple doesn’t use pop-ups to make alerts.

Here are some other red flags to look for. Be on guard if the notification wants you to do any of the following: 

  • Click a link 
  • Install an app 
  • Open files
  • Download files
  • Give your Apple ID password or verification code
  • Call a phone number
  • Give personal information, such as your address, social security number, passwords, etc. 
  • Give financial information, such as your banking or credit card number

To determine if your Apple threat notification is real, sign into your account at https://appleid.apple.com/. You’ll see the same threat notification on the top of the screen if it’s valid. It looks like this: 

Apple threat notification

If you don’t see it, that’s a big warning you’re dealing with a scam. 

How to get rid of Apple Security Virus on macOS

The Apple security alert could have been triggered by simply visiting an untrustworthy site, in which case exiting it will solve your problem. Or, it could be more sinister, such as the accidental installation of a malicious app. We’ll go through all the methods to help you get things back to normal. 

Uninstall Questionable Apps

There are several ways to uninstall apps on your macOS. Here’s the top 3: 

Launchpad: 

You can uninstall apps you downloaded from the App Store via Launchpad. Note, for the most part, apps obtained from the official App Store are heavily vetted for malware. Even so, if you’re worried something slipped through the cracks, you can use the Launchpad feature to remove them: 

  1. Open Launchpad from the Dock or your Applications folder
  2. Find the suspicious app in Launchpad or type the name in the search option at the top of the screen
  3. Click and hold the app until they wiggle, or press and hold the Option key
  4. Click the small x on the app you want to get rid of, then click Delete

Apple Launchpad screen

Finder:

Finder is a great way to access apps, especially ones not downloaded from the App Store: 

  1. Click the Finder icon 

MacOS Finder icon

  1. Choose the app to delete from your Applications folder or wherever you have it stored
  2. Drag the app to the Trash on the bottom right of the screen. You can also select the app and use your keyboard to press Command-Delete

Mac trash icon

  1. Use Finder to Empty Trash to completely delete the app

CleanMyMacX (or other such utilities)

macOS cleanup utilities like CleanMyMacX may be a solution if you want a fast, intuitive way to uninstall suspect apps. That said, while most reviewers love the app, some say it isn’t the most thorough for full out malware protection, so do your research and make sure your needs are covered. Here’s how to use it: 

  1. Install and open CleanMyMacX
  2. On the left sidebar you’ll see Uninstaller, select it
  3. Find the apps you want to delete
  4. Select the boxes next to the apps you want to get rid of and click Uninstall

Use an Antivirus to Scan your System

When in doubt, lean on your antivirus and perform a full system scan, following the instructions specific to the brand of antivirus you have. You should be able to use their website for instructions if you need a place to start.

Remove Suspicious Browser Extensions

Safari is macOS’s default browser, so here are steps to see if this is the culprit. Here’s how to check the Extensions: 

  1. Open Safari
  2. Click Safari then Settings (in the top left corner)
  3. Open the Extensions Tab
  4. If you see anything suspicious in the sidebar you can choose to Uninstall

Note: If you’re using a different browser, steps may differ slightly.

Delete Stored Cookies/Cache

Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Safari browser
  2. Go to Settings (top left of screen)
  3. Click Privacy
  4. Click Manage Website Data
  5. A pop-up window will appear and you can either select Remove All or individually choose which website cookies you want to delete

Another way to empty your cache is:

  1. Open Safari
  2. Go to Preferences
  3. Go to Advanced
  4. Check the option for Show Develop Menu in Menu Bar
  5. From there, scroll down to Empty Caches

Mac caches menu

Remove Notification Permissions from Websites

You may have picked up the security alert pop-up from an untrustworthy website. To prevent this in the future, you can take away notification permissions: 

  1. Open Safari
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Go to Websites
  4. Go to Notifications
  5. Choose the sites you want to block notifications from, then select Remove
  6. Un-select the Allow websites to ask for permissions to send notifications option

How to get rid of Apple Security Alert on iOS

If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, here’s how to get rid of the security alert:

Clear Website Data

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Scroll to find Safari
  3. Select Clear History and Website Data

iPhone clear history screen

  1. It will require you to confirm this choice and will affect all your devices that are signed into Apple

Remove Suspect Apps

  1. Find the app/s that look questionable
  2. Tap and hold the app icon on your screen
  3. Choose Remove App and then choose Delete App

iPhone remove app screen

Eliminate Questionable Extensions

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Find Safari
  3. Go to Extensions

iPhone extensions screen

  1. Turn off any extensions you don’t want

While you’re in Safari’s settings, you can tighten up security options like fraudulent website warnings, preventing cross-site tracking, and blocking pop-ups.

Conclusion

Take preventative measures against malware and scams. With Apple products, especially, it’s vital to keep current with updates. There are so many system vulnerabilities discovered every day. Updates help patch these so don’t skip them. Other tips: 

  • Only install trusted apps, such as from the App Store
  • Use secure passwords
  • Don’t download attachments or click links from untrusted sources
  • Two-factor authentication is best
  • Have a good antivirus in place
  • Never give personal information if you’re not 100% sure they’re trustworthy

In extreme cases where you’re worried about being targeted for cyber-attacks (very uncommon), you can always activate Lockdown Mode on your Apple device. 

Frequently asked questions

What are the signs my iPhone has a virus?

Tip: Jailbroken phones are far more likely to get viruses than stock ones, so think twice before jailbreaking yours. In general, here are some common iPhone virus symptoms to look out for: 

  • Your phone crashes frequently
  • Your phone runs slow
  • The battery drains abnormally fast
  • Lots of pop-up ads
  • Unauthorized charges from your financial accounts (could mean your financial info was hacked)
  • Increased data usage (malware takes up a lot of phone data)
  • Unexpected apps appearing that you didn’t install 

Is the Apple Security pop-up a virus?

The Apple virus warning pop-up isn’t a virus, itself. It’s more of a lure, trying to get you to give up personal data or unwittingly download malware, which can include viruses. The pop-up has no power over your device so long as you don’t pursue the actions it’s trying to get you to do. 

How do I know if a security alert on my iPhone is real?

When you get a security alert from Apple, they usually term it as “threat notifications,” not security alerts. That’s an indicator right there. The best way to know if the alert is real is to log on to your Apple I.D. account. If the threat notification shows up on your account, there’s a good chance it’s valid. If you don’t see anything upon sign in, it’s likely a scam.

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