How to avoid installation of AdLoad malware

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

How to remove AdLoad from Mac computers

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

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.
Removal

To eliminate malware infections our security researchers recommend scanning your Mac with Combo Cleaner.
▼ Download Combo Cleaner for Mac
Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Combo Cleaner.

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

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 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. Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Combo Cleaner.

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 adload virus related files and folders:

Finder go to folder command

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

step1Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/LaunchAgents folder:

removing adware from launch agents folder step 1

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

removing adware from launch agents folder 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 same string.

step2Check for adware generated files in the /Library/Application Support folder:

removing adware from application support folder step 1

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

removing adware from application support folder 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.

step3Check for adware-generated files in the ~/Library/LaunchAgents folder:

removing adware from ~launch agents folder step 1


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

removing adware from ~launch agents folder 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 same string.

step4Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/LaunchDaemons folder:

removing adware from launch daemons folder step 1
In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/LaunchDaemons

removing adware from launch daemons folder 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.

step 5 Scan your Mac with Combo Cleaner:

If you have followed all the steps in the correct order you Mac should be clean of infections. To be sure 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 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 it's virus definition database and click "Start Combo Scan" button.

scan-with-combo-cleaner-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.

scan-with-combo-cleaner-2

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

AdLoad virus removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove adload virus related Safari extensions:

safari browser preferences

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

safari extensions window

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 normal browser operation.

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

firefox browser iconRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Remove adload virus related Mozilla Firefox add-ons:

accessing mozilla firefox add-ons

Open your Mozilla Firefox browser. At the top right corner of the screen, click the "Open Menu" (three horizontal lines) button. From the opened menu, choose "Add-ons".

removing malicious add-ons from mozilla firefox

Choose the "Extensions" tab and look for any recently-installed suspicious add-ons. When located, click the "Remove" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Mozilla Firefox browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

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

chrome-browser-iconRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Remove adload virus related Google Chrome add-ons:

removing malicious google chrome extensions step 1

Open Google Chrome and click the "Chrome menu" (three horizontal lines) button located in the top-right corner of the browser window. From the drop-down menu, choose "More Tools" and select "Extensions".

removing malicious Google Chrome extensions step 2

In the "Extensions" window, look for any recently-installed suspicious add-ons. When located, click the "Trash" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Google Chrome browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

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

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
AdLoad virus QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of AdLoad virus on your mobile device.
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