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How to remove software causing redirects to and from searchnets.xyz

Also Known As: searchnets.xyz browser hijacker
Type: Mac Virus
Damage level: Medium

What is searchnets.xyz?

searchnets.xyz is the address of a bogus search engine. These fake search engines are usually promoted by rogue software called browser hijackers, which make modifications to browser settings. Browser hijackers have data tracking capabilities, which are employed to monitor users' browsing activity.

Due to the dubious methods used to proliferate browser hijackers, they are also classified as Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs).

searchnets.xyz browser hijacker on a Mac computer (GIF)

Browser hijackers typically target Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and other popular browsers with large user bases. This software operates by assigning the addresses of bogus search engines as the homepage, default search engine and new tab/window URLs.

These seemingly minor alterations diminish the browsing experience. To elaborate, with a browser hijacker promoting searchnets.xyz installed, each new browser tab/window opened and search made via the URL bar redirects to searchnets.xyz.

Fake search engines are seldom capable of providing search results, and so they redirect (or cause redirection chains leading) to Google, Yahoo, Bing and other legitimate sites. At the time of research, searchnets.xyz redirected to smashapps.net and then to the Yahoo (search.yahoo.com) search engine.

Furthermore, browser hijackers can also reset any changes users attempt to make to their browsers and/or restrict/deny access to the browser settings outright. Therefore, recovering a hijacked browser is impossible without removing the software affecting it.

As mentioned, most browser hijackers can track data. They can monitor browsing activity (URLs visited, pages viewed, search queries typed, etc.) and collect personal information extracted from it (IP addresses, geolocations and other details). The gathered data is then monetized by sharing with and/or selling to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals).

In summary, the presence of data-tracking software on devices can result in serious privacy issues, financial loss and even identity theft. To ensure device integrity and user safety, it is crucial to remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name searchnets.xyz browser hijacker
Threat Type Browser hijacker, Mac malware, Mac virus.
Serving IP Address 104.18.37.59
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 browsing tracking (potential privacy issues), displaying 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 seven days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

cybersearch.xyzd2sri.com6v5f3l.com, and search.locatorunit.com are some examples of other fake search engines, whilst MovieFinder365Bright Start, and NiceTab StartPage are examples of browser hijackers. This software may seem legitimate and offers a wide variety of "useful" features, however, the advertised features are rarely operational.

In fact, this applies to most PUAs. The sole purpose of these unwanted apps is to generate revenue for the developers. Regular users receive no real value and can experience serious issues. Rather than delivering any real value, PUAs hijack browsers, cause redirects, run intrusive advertisement campaigns (adware), and collect private data.

How did searchnets.xyz install on my computer?

PUAs are often downloaded/installed together with other products. This deceptive marketing technique of pre-packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions is called "bundling".

By rushing through download/installation of software (e.g. ignoring terms, skipping steps and sections, using "Quick/Express" settings, etc.) many users risk unintentionally allowing bundled content into their devices. Intrusive advertisements proliferate PUAs as well.

When clicked, the ads can execute scripts to download/install these applications without users' permission. Some PUAs have "official" download web pages from which they can be downloaded.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

You are advised to research all software before download/installation. Use only official and verified download channels. Unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (BitTorrent, Gnutella, eMule), and other third party downloaders commonly offer harmful and bundled content, and are therefore untrusted and should be avoided.

When downloading/installing, read the terms, study all possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out of additional apps, tools, features, and so on. Intrusive advertisements typically seem legitimate, however, they can redirect to dubious and malicious sites (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and many others).

If you encounter ads or redirects of this kind, inspect the system and remove all dubious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately. If your computer is already infected with browser hijackers, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.

Browser hijacker promoting searchnets.xyz asking to be permitted to track browsing activity:

searchnets.xyz promoting browser hijacker asking for permissions

Browser hijacker promoting searchnets.xyz installed on the Google Chrome browser:

searchnets.xyz promoting browser hijacker installed onto Chrome

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 adware and browser hijackers from a Mac computer:

searchnets.xyz redirect removal:

Remove searchnets.xyz-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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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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