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How to get rid of PortalAgent adware?

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

How to remove PortalAgent from Mac?

What is PortalAgent?

PortalAgent displays unwanted advertisements and forces users to visit a certain address (use a fake search engine). It is highly likely that PortalAgent collects information relating to Internet browsing activities or other data as well. One more important detail about the PortalAgent app is that it is distributed through a deceptive installer (a fake installer for Adobe Flash Player). Therefore, it is very unlikely that there are users who have downloaded and installed PortalAgent knowingly. Apps that users download, install without intention to do so are called potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).

PortalAgent adware

It is common for applications like PortalAgent to be designed to serve banners, pop-up ads, surveys, coupons, or other advertisements. In most cases, their ads not only cover contents of opened websites but also can open a variety of untrustworthy web pages or even download, install some potentially malicious applications by executing certain scripts. For these reasons, users are advised to avoid clicking on ads that apps like PortalAgent generate. It is known that PortalAgent promotes a fake search engine (functions as a browser hijacker). More precisely, it changes the browser's settings such as the address of a default search engine, homepage, and new tab to an address of its fake search engine. Moreover, it prevents users from undoing the changes that were made by it. It means that the only way to stop a browser hijacked by PortalAgent from opening a specific address each time a new window or tab is opened or a search query is entered is to uninstall this app.

Fake search engines that apps like PortalAgent (adware-type apps, browser hijackers) promote cannot be trusted. In most cases, fake search engines show results generated by another (typically, a legitimate search engine). However, there are many fake search engines that generate their own results with links to various untrustworthy pages or dubious ads among them. As mentioned in the introduction, apps like PortalAgent can be used by their developers as tools to collect entered search queries, geolocations, addresses of visited pages, Internet Protocol address, other browsing data, or (and) sensitive information like credit car details, passwords. It is common that people behind apps like PortalAgent sell collected details to third parties (potentially cybercriminals), use them for marketing purposes, or choose some another way to monetize them. In one way or another, it is never really safe apps like PortalAgent installed on browsers, or the operating systems.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by PortalAgent
Threat Type Adware, Mac malware, Mac virus
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.

In conclusion, adware is a type of unwanted software that generates revenue for its developer by serving various advertisements. Also, software of this type can be monetized by using it as a data collector. Either way, adware is useless to its users and can cause them certain problems. Therefore, users who have software of this type installed on a browser or computer should get rid of it as soon as possible. More adware examples are RunningUpdater, AthenaSearch and ProtocolPort.

How did PortalAgent install on my computer?

Research shows that the PortalAgent app is distributed via a fake installer that is designed to look like the installer for Adobe Flash Player. It is important to remember that fake installers can be used to trick users into installing ransomware, Trojan-type malware, or other malicious software as well. Downloaders and installers for other programs can be used to distribute PUAs too. In such cases, potentially unwanted apps are bundled together with some free programs. Usually, their downloaders, installers have "Advanced", "Custom", or other settings, or some checkboxes. Users can use them to decline unwanted offers. Although, not all users check downloaders, installers for bundled apps/change the aforementioned setting. Therefore, users who finish downloads, installations without making any changes knowingly or unknowingly agree with unwanted offers too. In some cases, PUAs are distributed via deceptive ads by designing them to run specific scripts. However, users cause unwanted downloads or installations only if they click on those ads.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Applications should never be downloaded via third-party downloaders, eMule, torrent clients (and other Peer-to-Peer networks), from unofficial websites, etc., or installed via third-party installers. Downloads from sources of this kind can be malicious. Files and apps should be downloaded from official websites and via direct links. Furthermore, downloaders and installers that have "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar settings should be analyzed - they should be checked for bundled apps. Ads that appear on shady pages should not be trusted. Quite often, those ads are designed to open dubious pages or even cause unwanted downloads, installations. If there are any suspicious, unknown or unwanted extensions, plug-ins, or add-ons installed on a browser or programs of this kind installed on a computer, then they should be removed. If your computer is already infected with PortalAgent, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

Fake installer used to distribute PortalAgent (first installation step):

portalagent adware installer step 1

Fake installer used to distribute PortalAgent (second installation step):

portalagent adware installer step 2

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

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

IMPORTANT NOTE! In some cases malicious applications like PortalAgent 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...

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 PortalAgent adware using Combo Cleaner:

PortalAgent adware removal:

Remove PortalAgent-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 portalagent 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 PortalAgent removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by portalagent 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 portalagent 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 portalagent 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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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 PortalAgent 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 PortalAgent on your mobile device.
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