How To: Mac OS X Hit Again! How to Find and Delete the New SabPub Malware

Mac OS X Hit Again! How to Find and Delete the New SabPub Malware

Just last week, the Flashback trojan scared a lot of Mac users. Now, there's yet another trojan spreading across Mac computers—SabPub. The same Java vulnerability that allowed Flashback in seems to be how this SabPub malware snuck in, along with an Office vulnerability, which was just identified this weekend.

When installed via a drive by download, which occurs when users click on malware-infested URLs in unsuspecting emails, SabPub creates and uses a launcher to keep the malware running. Then, it tries to upload personal data to remote servers.

The name SabPub comes from Backdoor.OSX.SapPub and tries to fool you into thinking it's legit, since there is an actual service called "PubSub" in OS X for syncing RSS feeds among devices (see the picture below). So, if you see something called PubSub or PubSubAgent running in your Activity Monitor, it's cool. If you see PubSab, it's not cool.

These files are OKAY. They are NOT the malware files!

There is also a "MacKontrol" variant of this malware to look for.

How to Check Your Mac for SabPub Malware

To see if you're infected with SabPub, navigate to the two files below in your Finder by opening up your user Library folder. The first plist one is the malware launcher, while the second pfile one is the process.

  • Users/YOURNAME/Library/LaunchAgents/
  • Users/YOURNAME/Library/Preferences/

If they are present, delete them. You can also find and delete them directly from Terminal with these commands:

  • rm ~/Library/LaunchAgents/
  • rm ~/Library/Preferences/

How to Check Your Mac for MacKontrol

There's also another malware to look for called MacKontrol, which can be found in the following places. Delete them if there.

  • /Library/launched
  • Users/YOURNAME/Library/launched
  • Users/YOURNAME/Library/LaunchAgents/

Alternatively, use terminal to delete them directly:

  • rm /Library/launched
  • rm ~/Library/launched
  • rm ~/Library/LaunchAgents/

Now Update Your Mac

Now, before you stop, make sure to update your Mac with the latest Java security update via Software Update, which will remove the most common variants of the Flashback malware. Also, make sure you're Microsoft Office is updated.

Next, log out of your computer and log back in to wipe the slate clean for your user account.

Tip for Time Machine Users

  • If you use Time Machine, make sure to delete all of the questionable files there, too, then perform a fresh backup.

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Photo by Travis Isaacs


Just spotting for easily confused terminal noobs: "Users/YOURNAME/Library/Launch Agents/" should be "Users/YOURNAME/Library/LaunchAgents/"
Not a big thing, but if you don't know what you're doing, you could be getting lost.

Ah... I don't know where that dang space came from! Thanks for pointing it out. I just went ahead and fixed it in the article. :)

"Ah... I don't know where that dang space came from!" - Sounds like every programmer out there! i can't count the time I have done things like that.

Indeed it does! I'm at this very moment hunting down such a slip up somewhere in a program, I'm sure of it...

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