FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

How to uninstall AthenaSearch adware from your operating system?

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

How to remove AthenaSearch adware from Mac?

What is AthenaSearch?

AthenaSearch is a rogue application, which is classified as adware. It has browser hijacker qualities as well. Following successful installation, this app runs intrusive advert campaigns and modifies browsers to promote fake search engines. Additionally, software of this type typically spies on users' browsing habits. Due to the questionable tactics employed to distribute AthenaSearch, it is deemed to be a PUA (Potentially Unwanted Application). This piece of software has been observed being distributed via fake Adobe Flash Player updates. It is noteworthy that illegitimate updaters/installers proliferate not only PUAs but also trojans, ransomware, and other malware.

AthenaSearch adware detections on VirusTotal

Adware enables the placement of third-party graphical content - usually on any visited website. In simple terms, this software delivers pop-ups, surveys, banners, coupons, full-page, and other intrusive advertisements. They seriously diminish the browsing experience by limiting webpage visibility and browsing speed. Furthermore, intrusive ads are considered dangerous. Once clicked on, these adverts redirect to misleading/malicious sites and some can execute scripts to stealthily download/install software (e.g., PUAs).

Browser hijackers make changes to browser settings in order to promote illegitimate search engines. This rogue software assigns fake web searcher addresses as browsers' homepage, default search engines, and new tab/window URLs. Hence, every new browser tab/window opened and web search done via the URL bar - redirect to the promoted search engine's address. Illegitimate web searchers are rarely able to generate search results, so they tend to redirect (or cause redirection chains leading) to Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other genuine search engines. Browser hijackers can also restrict/deny access to the browser settings and/or undo any permitted changes made. Therefore, without removing the hijacker software - it is impossible to recover the affected browser.

Most PUAs (adware and browser hijackers included) have data tracking abilities. Targeted information includes: URLs visited, pages viewed, search queries typed, IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, geolocations, and even personally identifiable information. The gathered data is then monetized by being shared with and/or sold to third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals). In summary, presence of unwanted apps on devices can lead to system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. To protect device and user privacy, all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be removed immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by AthenaSearch
Threat Type Adware, Mac malware, Mac virus
Detection Names Avast (MacOS:Adload-AD [Trj]), BitDefender (Gen:Variant.Adware.MAC.AdLoad.7), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of OSX/TrojanDownloader.Adload.AD), Kaspersky (Not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.OSX.Cimpli.l), 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.

ProtocolPort, InitialSkill, OriginalModule, and ElementaryOptimizer are some examples of apps within the adware classification. They appear ordinary and harmless. Users are lured into download/installation with offers of various "useful" and "advantageous" functionalities. However, the features seldom work as promised, and in most cases - they do not work at all. This applies to nearly all PUAs. The only purpose of unwanted software is to generate profit for the developers; hence, functionality and device/user safety are irrelevant. PUAs are designed to deliver intrusive advertisement campaigns, hijack browsers, cause redirects, and collect private information.

How did AthenaSearch install on my computer?

PUAs are distributed through downloaders/installers of other software. This deceptive marketing method of packing regular products with unwanted or malicious additions - is called "bundling". Rushed downloads/installations (e.g., ignored terms, skipped steps and sections, used pre-set options, etc.) increase the risk of inadvertently allowing bundled content into the device. Intrusive adverts proliferate PUAs as well. Upon being clicked, the advertisements can execute scripts to download/install these applications without user consent. PUAs may also have "official" promotional webpages from which they can be downloaded and/or purchased.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is recommended to research products before download/installation and/or purchase. Furthermore, all downloads must be done from official and trustworthy sources. Dubious download channels, e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders - commonly offer harmful and/or bundled content. When downloading/installing, it is important to read terms, explore possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out from supplementary apps, tools, features, etc. Intrusive ads appear legitimate; however, they redirect to various unreliable and questionable sites (e.g., adult-dating, gambling, pornography, and so on). In case of encounters with such advertisements and/or redirects, the system must be inspected and all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - immediately removed from it. If your computer is already infected with AthenaSearch, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

Pop-up window displayed when AthenaSearch adware is installed:

AthenaSearch adware warning pop-up

Text presented in this pop-up:

"AthenaSearchd" will damage your computer.

This file was downloaded on an unknown date.

 

OK

Show in Finder

Delusive application installer (fake Flash Player updater) promoting AthenaSearch adware;

First installation step:

Delusive installer used to promote AthenaSearch adware (step 1)

Second installation step:

Delusive installer used to promote AthenaSearch adware (step 2)

Files related to the AthenaSearch adware that need to be removed:

  • ~/Library/Application Support/.[random_string]/Services/com.AthenaSearch.service.app
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.AthenaSearch.service.plist
  • /Library/Application Support/.[random_string]/System/com.AthenaSearch.system
  • /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.AthenaSearch.system.plist

IMPORTANT NOTE! In some cases malicious applications like AthenaSearch alter system proxy settings, thereby causing unwanted redirects to a variety of questionable websites.

The redirects are likely to remain even after removing the application itself. Thus, you'll have to restore them manually.

Step 1: Click on the gear icon in the Dock to navigate to the system settings. If the icon is not present in the Dock, you can find it in the Launchpad.

Changing proxy settings - navigate to the system settings

Step 2: Navigate to the Network settings.

Changing proxy settings - navigate to the network settings

Step 3: Select the connected network and click "Advanced...".

Changing proxy settings - select the connected network and click Advanced...

Step 4: Click on the "Proxies" tab and untick all the protocols. You should also set the settings of each protocol to default - "*.local, 169.254/16".

Changing proxy settings - untick all the options and set their settings to default

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 AthenaSearch adware using Combo Cleaner:

AthenaSearch adware removal:

Remove AthenaSearch-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 athenasearch 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 AthenaSearch removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by athenasearch 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 athenasearch 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 athenasearch 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.

Click to post a comment

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.

Our malware removal guides are free. However, if you want to support us you can send us a donation.

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 AthenaSearch 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 AthenaSearch on your mobile device.
We Recommend:

Get rid of Mac malware infections today:

▼ REMOVE IT NOW
Download Combo Cleaner for Mac

Platform: macOS

Editors' Rating for Combo Cleaner:
Editors ratingOutstanding!

[Back to Top]

To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited three days free trial available.