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How to remove FormatBoost adware and the ads it delivers

Also Known As: Ads by FormatBoost
Type: Mac Virus
Damage level: Medium

What is FormatBoost?

FormatBoost is untrusted software that operates by running intrusive advertisement campaigns and promoting fake search engines by making changes to browser settings. Due to this, FormatBoost is classified as adware with browser hijacker traits.

Since most users download/install this app inadvertently, it is also categorized as a Potentially Unwanted Application (PUA). These apps typically also collect browsing-related information.

FormatBoost has been observed being distributed via fake Adobe Flash Player updates. Note that rogue software updaters/installers are sometimes used to proliferate trojans, ransomware, and other malware.

Pop-up displayed when FormatBoost adware is present

Adware delivers pop-ups, surveys, banners, coupons, and other intrusive ads. The delivered ads diminish the browsing experience by overlaying web page content and limiting browsing speed, however, these advertisements are more than just a nuisance. Once clicked, they can redirect to various dubious/malicious websites and some can stealthily download/install software (e.g., PUAs). Therefore, adware poses a threat to device and user safety.

Browser hijackers assign fake search engine addresses as the default search engine, homepage, and new tab/window URLs. Therefore, with this software installed, new browser tabs/windows opened and web searches made via the URL bar redirect to the promoted address. Fake search engines are seldom able to generate unique results, and so they redirect to (or cause redirection chains ending with) Yahoo, Bing, Google, and other legitimate sites.

Additionally, browser hijackers can undo any changes users attempt to make to their browsers and restrict/deny access to the browser setting outright. This makes recovering a hijacked browser impossible without removing the software affecting it.

Furthermore, most PUAs (adware and browser hijackers included) have data tracking capabilities. They record browsing activity (visited URLs, viewed pages, searched queries, etc.) and gather sensitive information extracted from it (IP addresses, geolocations, and even personally identifiable details). The collected data is then monetized by sharing with and/or selling to third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals).

In summary, the presence of unwanted software on devices can result in system infections, serious privacy issues, financial loss, and identity theft. To ensure device integrity and user privacy, all dubious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be eliminated without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by FormatBoost
Threat Type Adware, Mac malware, Mac virus
Additional Information This application belongs to the 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 seven days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

OperativeUnit, TechnologyMain, SkilledPanelSearch, and ManagerAnalog are some examples of adware. It may seem normal and innocuous, and offers a broad range of "useful" functionality, however, the functions promised seldom work as advertised, and, in most cases, are nonoperational.

This is true of most PUAs. The sole purpose of these unwanted apps is to generate profit for the developers. Rather than delivering any real value, PUAs run intrusive ad campaigns, cause redirects, hijack browsers, and collect private data.

How did FormatBoost install on my computer?

Browser hijackers, adware-type apps, and other types of PUAs are commonly distributed by integrating them into the download and/or installation set-ups of other programs, so that a proportion of users inadvertently download and install them together with their chosen software. This distribution method is known as "bundling".

Offers to download and install additionally-included apps usually appear in "Advanced", "Custom" and other settings of the set-ups (where they can usually be declined). Many users fail to check and change these settings, thereby granting permission for PUAs to be downloaded and installed by default.

In addition, unwanted downloads and installations are sometimes caused by clicking deceptive advertisements capable of executing certain scripts.

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.

Installed programs must be activated and updated with tools or implemented functions that are provided by the official developers. No other third party, unofficial tools should be used.

Note that it is illegal to activate licensed software with ‘cracking’ tools. Files and programs should be downloaded from official websites and via direct download links. Avoid third party installers and the tools/sources mentioned above.

Do not open website links or files in irrelevant emails that are received from unknown, suspicious addresses. These bogus emails are often disguised as official and important. Regularly, scan your computer with reputable, up-to-date antivirus or anti-spyware software.

If your computer is already infected with FormatBoost, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

Text presented in the pop-up displayed when FormatBoost adware is present:

"FormatBoostd" will damage your computer.

 

This file was downloaded on an unknown date.

 

OK

Show in Finder

Deceptive installer (fake Flash Player updater) promoting FormatBoost adware.

First installation step:

Delusive installer used to promote FormatBoost adware (step 1)

Second installation step:

Delusive installer used to promote FormatBoost adware (step 2)

Files related to FormatBoost adware that need to be removed:

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

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

The redirects are likely to remain even after removing the application itself. Thus, you must 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 assign the settings of each protocol to the 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 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 FormatBoost adware using Combo Cleaner:

FormatBoost adware removal:

Remove FormatBoost-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 adware-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 adware 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 adware - "installmac.AppRemoval.plist", "myppes.download.plist", "mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist", "kuklorest.update.plist", etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the exact same string.

Mac removing related files and folders - step 2Check for adware 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 adware 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 adware - "installmac.AppRemoval.plist", "myppes.download.plist", "mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist", "kuklorest.update.plist", etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the exact same string.

Mac removing related files and folders - step 4Check for adware 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 adware, continue to remove rogue extensions from your Internet browsers.

Remove malicious extensions from Internet browsers

Safari iconRemove malicious Safari extensions:

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.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Safari.

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

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

  • 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

  • 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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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.

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