How to remove XCSSET malware from the operating system?

Also Known As: XCSSET virus
Type: Mac Virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Severe

How to remove XCSSET malware from Mac?

What is XCSSET?

XCSSET is a piece of malicious software, designed to steal a variety of information and capable of operating as ransomware. Some of the main functionalities of this malware include: modification of displayed websites, stealing of log-in credentials (i.e. usernames and passwords) as well as other data related to browsing activity, collection of information from certain messaging platforms, data encryption for the purpose of making ransom demands for the decryption, and so on. XCSSET is a high-risk malicious program, its infections pose a significant threat to both device and user safety. This malware has been observed being distributed unknowingly by various developers - sharing their Xcode projects, which have been stealthily compromised and injected with malicious code.

XCSSET malware detections on VirusTotal

XCSSET malware can exfiltrate files from the infected system. It can also steal information of interest from Notes and Evernote - note taking, organizing and archiving applications. QQ, Skype, Telegram and WeChat messaging apps are similarly targeted by this malicious program. XCSSET can take screenshots of the current screen and visited websites. As mentioned in the introduction, this malware can operate as ransomware as well. Which means that it can encrypt files and display ransom-demanding messages, which promise data recovery if a certain sum is paid. Browsers are not exempt from XCSSET's list of targets. The potential abuse over the development version of the Safari browser - is particularly varied (theoretically, limitless). To elaborate, the malicious program can: alter the displayed webpages; extract browser cookies; prevent users from changing their passwords and if that fails - recording the newly set ones; steal credentials of amoCRM, Apple ID, Google, Paypal, SIPMarket and Yandex accounts; obtain credit card details (specifically, from the Apple Store); interfere with cryptocurrency transactions by switching addresses of cryptowallets, and so forth. To summarize, XCSSET infections can cause both data and financial loss, lead to severe privacy issues and identity theft. If it is suspected or known that XCSSET (or other malware) has already infected the system - an anti-virus must be used to eliminate it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name XCSSET virus
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Mac malware, Mac virus
Detection Names Avast (Other:Malware-gen [Trj]), BitDefender (Trojan.MAC.XCSSET.D), ESET-NOD32 (OSX/Spy.Xcsset.A), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan.OSX.Xtesc.gen), 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 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
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GmeraTarmacNUKESPED and AppleJeus are some examples of other Mac-specific malware. Malicious programs can have a wide variety of purposes and abilities - to carry them out. However, regardless of how they operate - all malware is deemed to be a threat to device and user safety. Furthermore, as such - these infections necessitate immediate removal.

How did XCSSET infect my computer?

At the time of research, distribution of XCSSET malware was dependent on its victims - specifically, affected users that develop software. The malicious code would insert itself into Xcode projects (Xcode being a software development file, resource and information repository) and when the projects would be shared (e.g. uploaded to GitHub) - the malware would be distributed to other systems. However, it is not unlikely that XCSSET is spread using other techniques as well. In general, malware is proliferated via trojans, spam campaigns, illegal activation tools ("cracks"), fake updaters and untrustworthy download sources. Trojans are malicious programs, some types of which can cause chain infections (i.e. download/install additional malware). Scam emails are sent by the thousand, during large-scale operations called "spam campaigns". These letters contain download links of infectious files and/or the files are simply attached to the emails. Virulent files can be in various formats, (e.g. archives, executables, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc.) and when they are opened - the infection process is initiated. Rather than activate licensed product, "cracking" tools can download/install malware. Fake updaters infect systems by exploiting flaws of outdated products and/or by installing malicious software instead of the promised updates. Malware can also be unintentionally downloaded from untrustworthy channels, e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders.

How to avoid malware infections?

It is recommended to only use official and trustworthy download sources. It is just as important to activate/update products with tools or functions provided by legitimate developers. Illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third party updaters are strongly advised against use - as they are commonly employed to spread malware. Suspicious and/or irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links found in them - as that can result in a high-risk infection. To ensure device integrity and user safety, it is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus suite installed. This software must be kept up-to-date, used to run regular system scans and to remove detected/potential threats. If your computer is already infected with malware, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate it.

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 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 xcsset 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.

XCSSET virus removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove xcsset 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 xcsset 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 xcsset 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
XCSSET 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 XCSSET virus on your mobile device.
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