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How to remove the FlexibleProtocol adware from your operating system?

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

How to remove FlexibleProtocol adware from Mac?

What is FlexibleProtocol?

FlexibleProtocol is an adware-type application with browser hijacker traits. It operates by delivering intrusive advertisement campaigns and making changes to browser settings - in order to promote fake search engines. In addition, this app has data tracking abilities, which are used to collect browsing-related information. Due to the questionable techniques employed in FlexibleProtocol's distribution, it is also classified as a PUA (Potentially Unwanted Application).

FlexibleProtocol adware

Adware enables the placement of various banners, pop-ups, banners, coupons and other intrusive advertisements - typically, on any visited website. The delivered ads overlay webpage content and slow down the browsing speed, thereby seriously diminishing the browsing quality. Furthermore, upon being clicked intrusive adverts redirect to a variety of untrustworthy, misleading, compromised and malicious websites. Some of the advertisements can even be triggered (by being clicked on) to stealthily download/install software (e.g. PUAs).

Browser hijackers assign the addresses of fake web searchers as browsers' homepage, default search engine and new tab/window URLs. Hence, with such a piece of software installed: every single new browser tab/window opened and web search done via the URL bar - redirect to the promoted address. Illegitimate search engines are seldom able to provide search results, so they tend to redirect to Google, Bing, Yahoo and other genuine ones. Browser hijackers can undo any changes users attempt to make to their browsers and/or limit/deny access to the browsers' settings outright. Therefore, recovering a hijacked browser is impossible without removing the software affecting it.

What is more, most PUAs (adware and browser hijackers included) can track data. They can monitor browsing activity (URLs visited, pages viewed, search queries typed, etc.) and collect sensitive information extracted from it (IP addresses, geolocations and other details). The gathered data usually contains personally identifiable information. PUA developers monetize such data by sharing it with and/or selling it to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals). In summary, presence of unwanted apps on devices can result in system infections, financial losses, serious privacy issues and even identity theft. To ensure device and user safety, all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be eliminated immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by FlexibleProtocol
Threat Type Adware, Mac malware, Mac virus
Detection Names Avast (MacOS:Adload-AG [Adw]), Fortinet (Adware/Synataeb!OSX), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of OSX/Adware.Synataeb.F), Kaspersky (Not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.OSX.Adload.j), Full List (VirusTotal)
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.

SmartSearchMicroLookupSmartControl and AdminLink are some examples of other applications within the adware classification. They appear legitimate and offer various "handy" functionalities. However, the advertised features are rarely operational. In fact, this is true of nearly all PUAs. The only goal of unwanted software is to generate revenue for the developers. Therefore, instead of delivering on any promises, PUAs can run intrusive advert campaigns, cause redirects, hijack browsers and collect private data.

How did FlexibleProtocol install on my computer?

PUAs are distributed via download/installation setups of other products. This false marketing method of packing ordinary software with unwanted or malicious additions - is termed "bundling". Rushed download/installation processes (e.g. ignored terms, skipped steps and sections, etc.) increase the risk of inadvertently allowing bundled content into the system. Intrusive advertisements proliferate PUAs as well. Upon being clicked, the ads can execute scripts to download/install these applications without user consent. PUAs may also have "official" download sites.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is recommended to research software before download/installation and/or purchase. Only official and verified download channels must be used. Untrustworthy download channels, e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders - commonly offer deceptive and/or bundled content. When downloading/installing, it is advised to read terms, explore all available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out from additional apps, tools, features, etc. Intrusive ads appear legitimate, however they redirect to highly questionable webpages (e.g. gambling, adult-dating, pornography, and so on). In case of encounters with adverts and/or redirects of this kind, the system must be checked and all suspect appliscations and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - removed from it without delay. If your computer is already infected with FlexibleProtocol, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

Pop-up window displayed once FlexibleProtocol adware's installation is over:

Pop-up displayed once FlexibleProtocol installation is complete

FlexibleProtocol adware's installation folder:

FlexibleProtocol adware install folder

FlexibleProtocol adware installed onto the Safari browser:

FlexibleProtocol adware installed onto Safari

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 FlexibleProtocol adware using Combo Cleaner:

FlexibleProtocol adware removal:

Remove FlexibleProtocol-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 flexibleprotocol 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 FlexibleProtocol removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by flexibleprotocol 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 flexibleprotocol 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 flexibleprotocol 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.

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
Ads by FlexibleProtocol 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 FlexibleProtocol on your mobile device.
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