My Freedom app mimicked a registry hack

TLDR: If you think you have PUM.bad.proxy malware, and you have the Freedom website blocker, try uninstalling or deactivating Freedom.

Carsten Linke Flickr CC copy.jpg
Original image by Carsten Linke on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons licence. It’s our second Carsten in August!

Long version: I’ve had shonky internet for close on a month. I’d be good for about an hour, and then my Mac would set web proxies to – its own internal LAN address. This meant I lost the ability to use my browser. I’d have to manually untick the proxies, apply the change, and then I had about 25 seconds to go to the website I wanted before the proxies reapplied themselves.

It turns out this exact problem is caused by a well-known piece of malware which appeared on Macs in 2011, bringing to an end the era in which Mac owners could chuckle lightheartedly at the despair of malware-ridden PC owners.

I wasted a lot of hours trying various solutions to detect and remove the malware, which was stressful because I have very few skills. Nothing helped. I kept having to reset my Mac every hour, and it sucked. I finally bit the bullet and called a technician to come and solve the problem for me, for $125.

To prepare for the technician’s visit I deactivated my Freedom website blocker. I love Freedom. I rely on it to substitute for will power. I set it so I can’t go on YouTube or Twitch except from 00:00 to 00:10. I can only watch them from my PS4, so I don’t get tempted to waste time while I’m writing.

The second I removed Freedom my malware issue disappeared. There was no malware. I was happily paying for a service that was doing this to me. I’ve used Freedom for years and never had this problem before, so I guess there was a recent update that fucked with my whole internet, not just the sites I had it set to.

I didn’t find any hint of this when I googled to solve the problem, so I’m sharing in case anyone else encounters the same issue.

Now my problem is that there’s nothing stopping me watching YouTube ALL THE TIME. I’m listening to a video right now. It’s  12.22pm. Here’s an actual photo of my productivity for the day.

Desert by Martin on Flickr CC.jpg
Photo by Martin on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons licence

Maybe I should reinstall Freedom and embrace the isolation of no internet, just so I can make some work. If you don’t hear from me for a month, you’ll know I’ve fallen into the bottomless pit of Dead By Daylight playthroughs and the strangely hypnotizing calm of Plan With Me‘s.

7 thoughts on “My Freedom app mimicked a registry hack

  1. no, there’s nothing. I cannot find a single other person linking Freedom to this problem. I need to contact Freedom support, but I am all out of energy for the day. My Rescue Time app has a built in Focus Time thing that blocks websites, but that requires me to actually push the button, and I’m all “Five more minutes,” “Just one more thing.” With Freedom I make the decision to advance so I don’t have to make any effort. I am utterly spineless.

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