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Cultsearch.pw Redirect (Mac)

Also Known As: cultsearch.pw browser hijacker
Type: Mac Virus
Damage level: Medium

What is cultsearch.pw?

cultsearch.pw is a fake search engine that is virtually identical to weknow.ac and smartsearch.pw. This site supposedly enhances the browsing experience by generating the most accurate search results.

On initial inspection, cultsearch.pw may seem legitimate and useful, however, developers promote this site using browser-hijacking download/installation set-ups designed to modify options without permission. In addition, cultsearch.pw continually records information relating to browsing activity.

cultsearch.pw browser hijacker on a Mac computer

Rogue set-ups target popular browsers such as Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome. Following successful infiltration, they assign the new tab URL, homepage, and default search engine options to cultsearch.pw. These changes may seem insignificant, however, set-ups stealthily install a number of "helper objects" - third party applications or browser plug-ins.

"Helper objects" reassign browser options when attempts are made to change them. Therefore, users are unable to return browsers to their previous states and are forced to visit cultsearch.pw when they open a new browser tab or search via the URL bar. This significantly diminishes the browsing experience.

Another important downside is information tracking - cultsearch.pw and "helper objects" continually record information such as IP addresses, search queries, URLs visited, pages viewed, and other similar details relating to browsing activity.

Collected information might contain personal details that developers share with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) to generate revenue.

These people generate revenue by misusing private information. Thus, information tracking can lead to serious privacy issues or even identity theft. We strongly recommend that you eliminate all potentially unwanted applications immediately and never return to cultsearch.pw.

Threat Summary:
Name cultsearch.pw browser hijacker
Threat Type Mac malware, Mac virus
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.

The internet is full of fake search engines, all of which are virtually identical. They claim to enhance the browsing experience by providing "useful features" (e.g., improved search results, quick access to popular websites, weather forecasts, currency exchange rates, etc.), however, fake search engines have just one purpose: to generate revenue for the developers.

Rather than giving any real value for regular users, these sites cause unwanted redirects and gather information, thereby posing a direct threat to your privacy and browsing safety.

Some even feed users with misleading results and intrusive advertisements, most of which redirect to dubious (potentially, malicious) websites. Therefore, using fake search engines might lead to various system infections.

How did cultsearch.pw install on my computer?

As mentioned above, cultsearch.pw is promoted using rogue downloaders/installers. This deceptive marketing method is called "bundling". Developers know that users often rush download/installation procedures and skip steps.

Therefore, all information regarding modification of browser settings is hidden within "Custom/Advanced" options (or other sections) of the download/installation processes. Furthermore, many users often rush these procedures and skip steps.

In doing so, they inadvertently grant set-ups permission to modify settings, expose their systems to risk of various infections, and compromise their privacy.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Unwanted applications are promoted using the "bundling" method and intrusive advertisements. Therefore, to prevent infiltration by these apps, be very cautious when browsing the internet and downloading/installing software. Carefully analyze each step of the download/installation processes using the "Custom" or "Advanced" settings.

In doing so, opt-out of additionally-included programs and decline offers to download/install them. Avoid using third party downloaders/installers, since developers monetize them by promoting ("bundling") unwanted apps. Intrusive advertisements usually redirect to dubious websites or execute scripts designed to download/install rogue applications.

Most of these apps seem legitimate, however, once clicked, redirect to dubious websites (pornography, gambling, adult dating, etc.). Most are delivered by adware-type applications. Thus, if you encounter suspicious redirects, immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser plug-ins.

If your computer is already infected with browser hijackers, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.

IMPORTANT NOTE! Rogue setups/apps that promote the cultsearch.pw website are designed to create a new device profile. Therefore, before taking any further removal steps, perform these actions:
1) Click the "Preferences" icon in the menu bar and select "Profiles".

cultsearch.pw preferences step 1

2) Select the "AdminPrefs" profile and delete it.

cultsearch.pw preferences step 2

3) Perform a full system scan with Combo Cleaner anti-virus suite.

After performing these actions, you can proceed with further removal steps for this browser hijacker.

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 browser redirects to cultsearch.pw using Combo Cleaner:

cultsearch.pw redirect removal:

Remove cultsearch.pw-related potentially 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 the potentially 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.

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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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Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
cultsearch.pw browser hijacker QR code
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