How to remove IdeaReference adware

Also Known As: Ads by IdeaReference
Type: Mac Virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

How to remove IdeaReference from Mac computers

What is IdeaReference?

IdeaReference is classified as adware, however, it also operates as a browser hijacker. This app promotes a fake search engine (Safe Finder) by changing browser settings and opening it through akamaihd.net. It also serves advertisements and is capable of reading private, sensitive information. Commonly, users download and install apps of this type (adware, browser hijackers, etc.) inadvertently and, for this reason, they are categorized as potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).

IdeaReference adware

Applications such as IdeaReference serve intrusive advertisements. For example, banners, coupons, pop-ups, surveys, and so on. Commonly, when users click these ads, they inadvertently open various untrusted websites. Sometimes, the ads can be designed to execute scripts to download and install unwanted, potentially malicious software. Adware-type applications often gather browsing data. For example, geolocations, addresses of visited pages, entered search queries, IP addresses and other details. Research shows that IdeaReference can access sensitive information such as passwords, telephone numbers, credit card details, etc. This information could be misused to steal personal online accounts, make fraudulent purchases and transactions, steal identities, etc. It might also be sold to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals). Therefore, users who have IdeaReference installed on their browser and/or computer could become victims of identity theft, lose access to various accounts, suffer monetary loss, experience issues relating to browsing safety, privacy, and so on. Additionally, IdeaReference promotes a fake search engine by modifying browser settings such as the address of the homepage, default search engine, and new tab (the app changes these settings to the fake search engine URL). Commonly, browser settings can be restored only when the app that modified them is no longer installed. Therefore, IdeaReference should never be downloaded or installed. The same applies to all the other apps of this type.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by IdeaReference
Threat Type Adware, Mac malware, Mac virus.
Additional Information This application belongs to Adload malware family.
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 Internet browser tracking (potential privacy issues), display of unwanted ads, redirects to dubious 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 three days free trial available.

IdeaReference is very similar to InterfaceSample, BasicDesktop and TypicalFraction (and many similar apps). These apps feed users with ads, collect data, and hijack browsers. Typically, they are advertised as useful and legitimate, however, adware is designed only to generate revenue for the developers and can cause serious issues. As mentioned, these apps are usually downloaded and installed unintentionally.

How did IdeaReference install on my computer?

Browser hijackers, adware and other PUAs are commonly spread using a marketing method called "bundling". I.e., by including the apps into the download/installation set-ups of other software as 'additional offers'. In most cases, offers to download and/or install potentially unwanted apps are listed in "Advanced", "Custom", or other settings. When users download and install their programs without changing the default settings, they often allow PUAs to infiltrate. These apps are also downloaded and installed through deceptive ads that execute certain scripts when clicked.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

Do not download software or files from untrusted, unofficial websites, through torrent clients, eMule (and other Peer-to-Peer networks), third party downloaders, etc. Third party installers should also be avoided. These tools and channels are often used to promote dubious, even malicious files and apps. Software and files should be downloaded only through direct links and from official websites. Check all "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar settings, and decline offers to download or install additionally-included unwanted apps. Do not click intrusive ads, since they tend to open untrusted/potentially malicious websites and can cause unwanted downloads and installations. Commonly, such ads appear on dubious websites, however, they sometimes also appear on legitimate site. Remove any suspicious extensions, add-ons, and plug-ins installed on the browser, and programs of this kind that are installed on the operating system. If your computer is already infected with IdeaReference, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

Pop-up window displayed once IdeaReference installation is complete:

pop-up displayed once IdeaReference installation is done

IdeaReference redirecting users to the Safe Finder website via akamaihd.net:

IdeaReference redirecting users to Safe Finder website via akamaihd.net

IdeaReference installation folder:

ideareference adware contents folder

IdeaReference installed on Safari:

ideareference adware safari extension

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 three days free trial available.

Quick menu:

Video showing how to remove IdeaReference adware using Combo Cleaner:

IdeaReference adware removal:

Remove IdeaReference-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 ads by ideareference 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.

Ads by IdeaReference removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by ideareference 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 ads by ideareference 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 ads by ideareference 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.

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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.

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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.

QR Code
Ads by IdeaReference 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 Ads by IdeaReference on your mobile device.
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