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How to avoid installation of AdLoad malware

Also Known As: AdLoad virus
Type: Mac Virus
Damage level: Severe

What is AdLoad?

AdLoad is malicious software that targets macOS operating systems. It is capable of avoiding detection by built-in macOS security tools and a number of third party antivirus programs and other security suites of this type. Furthermore, it prevents victims from removing the software from operating systems.

AdLoad is adware-type malware that hijacks browsers and forces users to visit potentially malicious websites. This enables cyber criminals to generate revenue.

AdLoad scam

AdLoad malware overview

Research shows that AdLoad is not the only name used for this malware. It is also known by Kreberisec, ApolloSearchDaemon, AphroditeResults, NetSignalSearchDaemon, ApolloSearch, and many others. We have provided a list of alternative names below.

This adware-type malware often has "SearchDaemon", "Lookup", "DataSearch" and "Results" within its name. AdLoad stores its files in various directories. Some of these files can be found easily, whilst others are more elusive. In any case, it can only perform these actions when the victim provides the password of an admin account.

This malware stores its two LaunchDaemon files in the local domain Library and the LaunchAgent file in the local user Library. For example, if this malware uses the "DataSearch" name, it stores "com.DataSearch.plist" in "~/Library/LaunchAgents/" and targets the executable file in "~/Library/Application Support/com.DataSearch/DataSearch".

It then stores "com.DataSearchDaemon.plist" in "~/Library/LaunchDaemons/", which targets "~/Library/Application Support/com.DataSearchDaemon/DataSearch" and "com.DataSearchP.plist" in "~/Library/LaunchDaemons/" - this targets a Mach-O executable "DataSearchDaemon" in "/var/root/.SearchQuest/DataSearchDaemon".

The last item calls a python script ("DataSearch.py"), which opens a connection with a remote host. To maintain persistence, DataSearch also creates a hidden directory ("/var/root/.mitmproxy"). Moreover, this malware installs user cronjob and an executable in a subfolder of the victim's Library Application Support folder.

Injected code is designed to run every two hours and thirty minutes. People who have AdLoad installed on their macOS systems involuntary help cyber criminals to generate revenue by being forced to visit various websites, which are preferred by the attackers.

Threat Summary:
Name AdLoad virus
Threat Type Mac malware, Mac virus.
Detection Names (Player(3).dmg) BitDefender (Adware.MAC.Adload.IZ), Emsisoft (Adware.MAC.Adload.IZ (B)), Kaspersky (Not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.OSX.Ketin.d), MaxSecure (Trojan.Malware.74395934.susgen), Full List (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Your Mac becomes slower than normal, you see unwanted pop-up ads, you are redirected to dubious websites.
Distribution methods Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers, torrent file downloads.
Damage Appearance of unwanted ads, redirects to dubious websites.
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.

Manual removal of AdLoad malware can be a difficult task. All components must be removed such as launch agent, daemon, cron job files, and processes in "/var/root".

It is very likely that AdLoad will rewrite/recreate these during its manual removal process, however, repeatedly removing the aforementioned files and processes should eventually eliminate AdLoad malware from the system.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

AdLoad is distributed through various rogue installers of potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) and adware.

For example, via installation set-ups of fake Flash Players. Typically, these installers are distributed through unofficial, deceptive, scam websites - these trick people into downloading and executing a setup file that installs unwanted/malicious software, including adware-type malware such as AdLoad.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

To protect systems from installation of malicious software, do not download software, files, or any content from unofficial websites, using Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule), third party downloaders, and so on. The only safe way to download files and programs is using official websites.

If a download or installation set-ups contains settings such as "Custom", "Advanced", etc., check them carefully and dismiss offers to download and/or install additional (unwanted) software. Do not update software using fake, unofficial updaters that were downloaded from dubious web pages.

We strongly recommend that you update installed software through tools and/or implemented functions designed by official developers. Do not click intrusive ads, especially if displayed on dubious web pages - they often lead to dubious sites that trick people into installing unwanted software, or they run scripts that download and install it.

Scan the operating system with reputable antivirus software regularly and ensure that it is up to date. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.

List of known alternative names used for AdLoad malware:

AlphaLookup AphroditeLookup AphroditeResults
ApolloSearch AresLookup ArtemisSearch
BinarySignSearch CalypsoLookup DataFormatSearch
DataQuest ElementaryDataSearch ElementaryInfoSearch
ElementaryProjectSearch ExpertCharacterSearch ExpertModuleSearch
ExpertProjectSearch FindData GlobalConsoleSearch
GlobalQuestSearch GlobalSearchQuest GoldResults
InetWebSearch KeyWordsSearch Kreberisec
LeadingChannelSearch LeadingSignSearch LookupTool
MainSignalSearch MajorChannelSearch MajorLetterSearch
NetLookupSearch NetToolboxSearch OdysseusLookup
OperativeResults PositiveSearch PublicAdviseSearch
QuickLookSearches ResultSearchManager ResultSync
ResultsSync SearchAdditionally SearchArchive
SearchNetCharacter SearchOptical SearchQuest
SearchRange SimpleBoardSearch SimpleFunctionSearch
SkilledProjectSearch SmartQuestSearch SmartWebSearch
Sorimbrsec TabSearch TechFunctionSearch
TotalAdviseSearch UpgradeSearchView VirtualToolboxSearch
WebSearchStride PoseidonResults

Installer of a Fake Flash Player, which is designed to install AdLoad malware:

AdLoad installation setup

Instant automatic Mac malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT 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:

Potentially unwanted applications removal:

Remove 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 adware-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 adware 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 adware - "installmac.AppRemoval.plist", "myppes.download.plist", "mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist", "kuklorest.update.plist", etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the exact same string.

Mac removing related files and folders - step 2Check for adware 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 adware 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 adware - "installmac.AppRemoval.plist", "myppes.download.plist", "mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist", "kuklorest.update.plist", etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the exact same string.

Mac removing related files and folders - step 4Check for adware 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 adware, continue to remove rogue extensions from your Internet browsers.

Remove malicious extensions from Internet browsers

Safari iconRemove malicious Safari extensions:

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.

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

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

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

  • 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

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is AdLoad malware?

AdLoad is the name of a malware family. Applications belonging to this group usually operate as adware. Furthermore, these apps often have browser-hijacking and data-tracking functionalities.

How does adware operate?

Adware stands for advertising-supported software. It displays ads on visited websites and/or other interfaces. Additionally, this software typically collects private information.

How does browser hijackers operate?

Browser hijackers modify browser settings to promote (by causing redirects to or through) fake search engines. Browser-hijacking software and illegitimate search engines usually gather sensitive data as well.

What harm can AdLoad malware cause?

AdLoad malware can decrease browsing quality and diminish system performance. Since this software typically collects private information - these abilities make it a threat to user privacy. What is more, AdLoad apps deliver advertisements that can be deceptive/malicious and cause serious issues (e.g., system infections, financial losses, etc.).

Will Combo Cleaner remove AdLoad malware?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is designed to scan systems and eliminate threats. It is capable of detecting and removing adware and browser hijackers. Furthermore, Combo Cleaner can eliminate nearly all known malware infections. It must be mentioned that high-end malware tends to hide deep within systems - therefore, performing a full system scan is paramount.

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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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AdLoad virus QR code
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