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Remove Safe Finder browser hijacker from the system

Also Known As: Safe Finder browser hijacker
Type: Mac Virus
Damage level: Medium

What kind of application is Safe Finder?

Safe Finder is a rogue application designed to promote a number of fake web search engines. It typically infiltrates systems without users' consent. Following infiltration, this app stealthily modifies browser options and stealthily gathers sensitive information. For these reasons, Safe Finder is categorized as an unwanted program and adware.

Safe Finder browser hijacker on a Mac computer

More about Safe Finder

Once infiltrated, Safe Finder hijacks Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome, modifying the new tab URL, default search engine, and homepage options by assigning them to one of the following URLs: search.safefinderformac.com, search.macsafefinder.com, or search.safefinder.com All are presented as legitimate web search engines that significantly enhance the browsing experience by generating improved results.

In fact, none give any real value for regular users. Once a search query is entered, users are immediately redirected to search.yahoo.com and end up searching via Yahoo (a legitimate search engine). Note that all of the listed sites are useless. In addition, Safe Finder reassigns browser settings when attempts are made to change them.

Therefore, as long as Safe Finder is present, returning browsers to their previous states is impossible. Ultimately, users are encouraged to visit one of the above sites when they open a new browser tab or search via the URL bar. These redirects significantly diminish the browsing experience.

As mentioned above, Safe Finder (and its promoted websites) continually gather information relating to browsing activity. Search queries, websites visited, pages viewed, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and other collected information usually includes personal details that developers share with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals).

These people generate revenue by misusing private information. Therefore, information tracking can lead to serious privacy issues or even identity theft.

If you encounter redirects to any of the aforementioned websites, immediately eliminate the Safe Finder browser hijacker, scan the system with a legitimate anti-virus/anti-spyware suite (such as Combo Cleaner), and never return to these sites.

Threat Summary:
Name Safe Finder browser hijacker
Threat Type Browser hijacker, Mac malware, Mac virus
Rogue Apps Promoting Safe Finder Website Search Boosted, Add Upgrade
Promoted Domains search.safefinderformac.com, search.macsafefinder.com, search.safefinder.com
Related Domains search.cachesdata.com, search.commonqueue.com, search.compellingagent.com, search.dominantbrowser.com, search.elemntoptimizer.com, search.enginequeue.com, search.explorerinput.com, search.functionconfig.com, search.helperobject.com, search.locatoreng.com, search.optimalelemnt.com, search.partitioneng.com, search.rotatorbuffer.com, search.skilledconfig.com, search.standartconsole.com, search.toolconsole.com, search.typicalbuffer.com, search.viewanalyzer.com, search.standarttask.com, search.rotatorinput.com
Detection Names (SafeFinder.app) Full list of detections (VirusTotal).
Serving IP Addresses 72.246.56.25 (search.safefinderformac.com), 23.62.239.11 (search.macsafefinder.com), 13.66.51.37 (search.safefinder.com)
Symptoms Your Mac became slower than normal, you see unwanted pop-up ads, you get redirected to shady websites.
Distribution methods Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers, torrent file downloads.
Damage Internet browsing tracking (potential privacy issues), displaying of unwanted ads, redirects to shady websites, loss of private information.
Malware Removal (Mac)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your Mac with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
▼ Download Combo Cleaner for Mac
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited seven days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

Apps of this type in general

There are dozens of browser-hijacking applications such as Safe Finder. Most offer various "useful features", however, the claims are merely attempts to give the impression of legitimacy.

All browser hijackers are designed only to generate revenue for the developers. Rather than giving any real value for regular users, these rogue apps cause unwanted redirects and gather sensitive information.

Furthermore, fake search engines generate misleading search results and intrusive advertisements that lead to malicious websites. Therefore, using them can result in various computer infections.

How did Safe Finder install on my computer?

Developers promote the Safe Finder browser hijacker using intrusive advertisements and a deceptive marketing method called "bundling". Intrusive advertisements redirect to malicious websites and execute scripts that stealthily download and install malware. "Bundling" is essentially stealth installation of unwanted programs together with regular software/apps.

Developers do not disclose these installations properly - the hide "bundled" apps within "Custom/Advanced" settings (or other sections) of the download/installation processes. Furthermore, many users are likely to click various advertisements and skip download/installation steps. In doing so, they expose their systems to risk of various infections and compromise their privacy.

How to avoid installation of unwanted applications?

To prevent this situation, be very cautious when browsing the Internet and downloading/installing software. Bear in mind that intrusive advertisements typically seem legitimate, but once clicked, redirect to gambling, adult dating, pornography, and other dubious websites. Most of these ads are delivered by adware-type apps.

Therefore, if you encounter them, immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser plug-ins. It is also important to select "Custom/Advanced" settings and carefully analyze each window of the download/installation dialogs. In doing so, opt-out of all additionally-included programs and decline offers to download/install them.

Your software should be downloaded from official sources only, using direct download links. Third party downloaders/installers often include rogue software, and thus should never be used.

Deceptive application installer promoting Safe Finder:

Delusive installer used to promote Safe Finder

IMPORTANT NOTE! The Safe Finder browser hijacker is designed to alter Safari's homepage, new tab, and new tab window settings. Therefore, after scanning the system with Combo Cleaner and removing all detected threats, be sure to revert these settings.

Step 1: Open the Safari browser, click "Safari" (left-upper corner of the screen) and select "Preferences":

Safe Finder Safari Options Step 1

Step 2: Set "New windows open with" and "New tabs open with" to "Homepage" (or "Empty page"). Then enter your preferred URL in the "Homepage" field:

Safe Finder Safari Step 2

Official Safe Finder virus promotion website:

Safe Finder virus-promoting website

Another rogue installation setup used to promote Safe Finder browser hijacker (the redirects are caused via akamaihd.net website):

Rogue installer promoting Safe Finder browser hijacker

Example of adware-type application (AddUpgrade from AdLoad adware family) which causes redirects to Safe Finder website via akamaihd.net:

AddUpgrade adware causing redirects to Safe Finder

Appearance of the redirect to Safe Finder website caused by AddUpgrade adware (GIF):

AddUpgrade adware causing redirects to Safe Finder

Update August 14, 2020 - Cyber criminals have recently released a different variant of Safe Finder browser hijacker designed to promote search.getstranto.club - another fake search engine which redirects users to Yahoo.

Screenshot of a deceptive installer promoting this Safe Finder variant:

Deceptive installer promoting Safer Finder browser hijacker (2020-08-14)

Screenshot of this Safe Finder variant's application:

Safer Finder browser hijacker application (2020-08-14)

Screenshot of this Safe Finder variant's extension in Safari web browser:

Safer Finder browser hijacker Safari extension (2020-08-14)

Screenshot of search.getstranto.club assigned as default search engine in Google Chrome web browser:

Safe Finder browser hijacker changing Google Chrome search engine

Screenshot of Safe Finder browser hijacker abusing the "managed by your organization" option in Google Chrome:

Safe Finder browser hijacker abusing Google Chrome

Instant automatic Mac malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of Mac malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Combo Cleaner for Mac By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited seven days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

Quick menu:

Video showing how to remove adware and browser hijackers from a Mac computer:

Safe Finder redirect removal:

Remove Safe Finder-related unwanted applications from your "Applications" folder:

mac browser hijacker removal from applications folder

Click the Finder icon. In the Finder window, select “Applications”. In the applications folder, look for “MPlayerX”,“NicePlayer”, or other suspicious applications and drag them to the Trash. After removing unwanted application(s) that cause online ads, scan your Mac for any remaining unwanted components.

Remove browser hijacker-related files and folders

Mac Go To Folder step

Click the Finder icon from the menu bar. Choose Go, and click Go to Folder...

Mac removing related files and folders - step 1Check for browser hijacker generated files in the /Library/LaunchAgents/ folder:

Mac go to /Library/LaunchAgents - step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/LaunchAgents/

Mac go to /Library/LaunchAgents - step 2

In the "LaunchAgents" folder, look for any recently-added suspicious files and move them to the Trash. Examples of files generated by browser hijackers - "installmac.AppRemoval.plist", "myppes.download.plist", "mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist", "kuklorest.update.plist", etc. Browser hijacker commonly installs several files with the exact same string.

Mac removing related files and folders - step 2Check for browser hijacker generated files in the ~/Library/Application Support/ folder:

Mac go to /Library/Application Support - step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: ~/Library/Application Support/

Mac go to /Library/Application Support - step 2

In the "Application Support" folder, look for any recently-added suspicious folders. For example, "MplayerX" or "NicePlayer", and move these folders to the Trash.

Mac removing related files and folders - step 3Check for browser hijacker generated files in the ~/Library/LaunchAgents/ folder:

Mac go to ~/Library/LaunchAgents - step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: ~/Library/LaunchAgents/

Mac go to ~/Library/LaunchAgents - step 2

In the "LaunchAgents" folder, look for any recently-added suspicious files and move them to the Trash. Examples of files generated by browser hijackers - "installmac.AppRemoval.plist", "myppes.download.plist", "mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist", "kuklorest.update.plist", etc. Browser hijacker commonly installs several files with the exact same string.

Mac removing related files and folders - step 4Check for browser hijacker generated files in the /Library/LaunchDaemons/ folder:

Mac go to /Library/LaunchDaemons - step 1

In the "Go to Folder..." bar, type: /Library/LaunchDaemons/

Mac go to /Library/LaunchDaemons - step 2

In the "LaunchDaemons" folder, look for recently-added suspicious files. For example "com.aoudad.net-preferences.plist", "com.myppes.net-preferences.plist", "com.kuklorest.net-preferences.plist", "com.avickUpd.plist", etc., and move them to the Trash.

Mac removing malware related files and folders - step 5Scan your Mac with Combo Cleaner:

If you have followed all the steps correctly, your Mac should be clean of infections. To ensure your system is not infected, run a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus. Download it HERE. After downloading the file, double click combocleaner.dmg installer. In the opened window, drag and drop the Combo Cleaner icon on top of the Applications icon. Now open your launchpad and click on the Combo Cleaner icon. Wait until Combo Cleaner updates its virus definition database and click the "Start Combo Scan" button.

Mac remove malware with Combo Cleaner - step 1

Combo Cleaner will scan your Mac for malware infections. If the antivirus scan displays "no threats found" - this means that you can continue with the removal guide; otherwise, it's recommended to remove any found infections before continuing.

Mac remove malware with Combo Cleaner - step 2

After removing files and folders generated by the browser hijackers, continue to remove rogue extensions from your Internet browsers.

Remove browser hijackers from Internet browsers

Safari iconRemove Safari browser hijackers:

Removal of malicious extensions in Safari - step 1

Open the Safari browser, from the menu bar, select "Safari" and click "Preferences...".

Removal of malicious extensions in Safari - step 2

In the preferences window, select "Extensions" and look for any recently-installed suspicious extensions. When located, click the "Uninstall" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Safari browser - none are crucial for regular browser operation.

Change your homepage:

Change Safari homepage

In the "Preferences" window, select the "General" tab. To set your homepage, type the preferred website URL (for example: www.google.com) in the Homepage field. You can also click the "Set to Current Page" button if you wish to set your homepage to the website you are currently visiting.

Change your default search engine:

Change Safari default search engine

In the "Preferences" window, select the "Search" tab. Here you will find a drop-down menu labeled "Search engine:" Simply select your preferred search engine from the drop-down list.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Safari.

Google Chrome logoRemove Google Chrome browser hijackers:

Removal of malicious extensions in Google Chrome - step 1

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More Tools" and click "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".

Removal of malicious extensions in Google Chrome - step 2

Change your homepage

Change Google Chrome homepage

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select "Settings". In the "On startup" section, disable the malicious extension (if present), look for a browser hijacker URL below the "Open a specific or set of pages" option. If present, click on the three vertical dots icon and select "Remove".

Change your default search engine:

Change Google Chrome default search engine

To change your default search engine in Google Chrome: Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "Settings", in the "Search engine" section, click "Manage search engines...", in the opened list look for a browser hijacker URL, when located click the three vertical dots near this URL and select "Delete".

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Google Chrome.

Mozilla Firefox logoRemove malicious extensions from Mozilla Firefox:

Removal of malicious extensions in Mozilla Firefox - step 1

Click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window) and select "Add-ons and themes". Click "Extensions", in the opened window locate all recently-installed suspicious extensions, click on the three dots and then click "Remove".

Removal of malicious extensions in Mozilla Firefox - step 2

Change your homepage

Change Mozilla Firefox homepage

To reset your homepage, click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), then select "Settings", in the opened window disable malicious extension (if present), remove the browser hijacker URL and enter your preferred domain, which will open each time you start Mozilla Firefox.

Change your default search engine:

Change Mozilla Firefox default search engine - step 1

In the URL address bar, type "about:config" and press Enter. Click "Accept the Risk and Continue".

Change Mozilla Firefox default search engine - step 2

In the search filter at the top, type: "extensionControlled". Set both results to "false" by either double-clicking each entry or clicking the Mozilla Firefox switch about:config entry button button.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Mozilla Firefox.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the purpose of forcing users to browse the Internet using fake search engines?

Developers of these fake search engines generate more revenue when the number of users/visitors is higher.

Is using a fake search engine is a threat to my privacy?

It is common for fake search engines (and apps promoting them) to be capable of accessing personal information. That information can be misused for malicious purposes.

How did a browser hijacker infiltrate my computer?

Typically, users install/add browser hijackers unintentionally. They cause it via shady ads, websites (or notifications from such websites), or installers containing unwanted apps.

Will Combo Cleaner help me remove a browser hijacker?

Yes, Combo Cleaner will remove any detected browser hijacker. It is worth mentioning that browser hijackers can be designed to reinstall one another. Trying to manually remove multiple browser hijackers can be tricky. Combo Cleaner can remove all of them at once automatically.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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