Controversial MacKeeper security program opens critical hole on Mac computers

The program's developers are urging users to update to its latest version as soon as possible

A critical vulnerability in MacKeeper, a controversial security program for Mac computers, could let attackers execute malicious commands on Macs when their owners visit specially crafted Web pages.

MacKeeper's developers acknowledged the recently discovered problem and released a fix for it Friday, saying in a blog post that users should run MacKeeper Update Tracker and install version 3.4.1 or later.

MacKeeper registers itself as the handler for a custom URL scheme, allowing websites to automatically call the application through the browser.

Researcher Braden Thomas found an issue in the program's validation of such URLs that makes it possible for attackers to execute arbitrary commands with root privilege when MacKeeper users visit a specially crafted website in Safari. As a proof of concept, he posted a link on Twitter that automatically executes a command to remove MacKeeper when clicked.

If users have already been asked by MacKeeper for their password during the normal operation of the program, the rogue command will execute automatically. If not, the program will prompt them for their password, but the text on the dialog window can also be altered by the exploit, SecureMac reported.

MacKeeper has been surrounded by controversy for years. Its previous owner, a Ukrainian-based company called ZeoBIT, was accused by Mac users of using aggressive advertising and scare tactics to push its product.

The company is close to settling a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. that sought $5 million in damages because MacKeeper warned users about fake security and performance problems to convince them to pay for the full version. If the settlement is reached, ZeoBIT will put $2 million into a fund for refunds, but won't admit any fault.

In April 2013, ZeoBIT sold MacKeeper to another company called Kromtech Alliance. The program has been downloaded over 20 million times and recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, according to Kromtech.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitypatch managementpatchesExploits / vulnerabilitiesZeoBitKromtech Alliance

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?