"Will Damage Your Computer" Mac Warning Pop-ups

There is a certain message that some users might see on their Mac screens that cause concern. You may have seen "XYZ will damage your computer. You should move it to the Trash", where XYZ can be the name of any application.

Those messages are not legitimate and are caused by the presence of adware, potentially unwanted apps, or browser hijackers on your Mac. Research shows that those will commonly appear on systems that have been updated to a more recent version of macOS at a point in time where the unwanted software was already on the system.

Messages similar to "XYZ will damage your computer" are almost always connected to a piece of unwanted software on your Mac. It may be difficult to tell whether this is a browser hijacker or some other form of adware, but what matters is that those messages always indicate an existing issue.

The type of unwanted software causing those messages usually ends up on your Mac through shady websites, rogue advertising networks, or bundle installers. Bundle installers are commonly distributed through free download websites of less than ideal repute. In a bundle installer, there would usually be a single legitimate application that is packaged with one or more potentially unwanted apps.

The bundle installers are notorious for the poor disclosure of their complete contents. This is also why the potentially unwanted apps contained in them end up on so many systems so easily.

The best way to keep your system safe from similar annoyances is to only download applications from trusted, closely-moderated download portals such as the Apple App Store or the official website of the app's publisher.

November 24, 2021

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