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How to remove the DiscoveryUnit adware?

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

How to remove DiscoveryUnit from Mac?

What is DiscoveryUnit?

DiscoveryUnit is the name of an advertising-supported application that generates unwanted advertisements. Also, this app promotes changes browser settings to promote a fake search engine (its address). Therefore, DiscoveryUnit functions not only as adware but also as a browser hijacker. It is important to mention that DiscoveryUnit is likely to be designed to gather information relating to browsing habits or other data. Another detail about apps like DiscoveryUnit is that most users download and install them unknowingly. For this reason, they are called potentially unwanted applications (PUAs). It is known that this particular app is distributed using a fake Adobe Flash Player installer.

DiscoveryUnit adware

Most adware-type applications generate revenue for their developers by displaying pop-up ads, banners, surveys, coupons, and other advertisements while users browse the web. The problem with those ads is that they tend to be deceptive and used to promote questionable websites (if clicked, they open shady pages). In some cases, those ads can be used to distribute (designed to download or even install) unwanted software. Those ads cause unwanted downloads, installations by executing certain scripts. In one way or another, it is not recommended to click on ads that apps like DiscoveryUnit generate. Furthermore, this app modifies browser settings. It hijacks a browser by changing its settings such as the address of a default search engine, homepage and new tab to an address of a fake search engine. Very often, fake search engines show results generated by Google, Yahoo, Bing, or some other legitimate search engine. In other words, most of them do not generate their own results. Although, there are fake search engines that generate misleading results, display ads, redirect users to shady addresses/websites. Another issue with having a browser hijacker installed on a browser or the operating system is that apps of this type do not allow users to undo the changes that were made by them after their installation. Therefore, users can remove the address of a fake search engine from the browser settings only when an app like DiscoveryUnit is not installed anymore.

One more reason not to have DiscoveryUnit or any other app of this type installed is that it may be capable of accessing sensitive information such as credit card details, logging credentials (usernames, email addresses, passwords), or other personal, confidential details. Such information can be misused to steal identities, personal accounts, make unauthorized transactions, purchases, etc. Although, it is unknown what data DiscoveryUnit may be collecting. It is possible that it targets details relating to browsing activities only. For example, geolocations, URLs of visited websites, entered search queries, IP addresses.

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

More examples of similar adware are DominantCommand, EssentialType, and RecordMapper. All these apps have three things in common: they generate ads, promote a certain address (fake search engine) and get downloaded and installed by users without their knowledge. Typically, apps like DiscoveryUnit are completely useless to their users and can be the reason behind serious issues like identity theft, monetary loss, or other problems. Therefore, users who have the DiscoveryUnit or another similar app installed on a browser or the operating system should remove it as soon as possible.

How did DiscoveryUnit install on my computer?

Research shows that the installer for the DiscoveryUnit app is disguised as the installer for Adobe Flash Player. As a rule, fake, deceptive installers are promoted through untrustworthy websites. It is important to know that fake installers can be used to distribute malware (like ransomware, Trojans). Also, users often download and install adware and via deceptive ads or together with some free software. There are deceptive ads that can run scripts designed to download, or even install unwanted apps. Although, most users download or install PUAs when those apps are bundled with other programs. As a rule, unwanted offers can be declined using "Custom", "Advanced", or other settings, or via checkboxes that those downloaders, installers have. If users leave those settings unchanged, they allow for bundled apps to be downloaded or installed too.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Downloaders and installers that have "Manual", "Custom", "Advanced" or other settings, or include checkboxes, tend to be bundled with potentially unwanted applications. For this reason, those settings should be checked and changed before finishing downloads or installations. Applications, files should be downloaded only from official websites and through direct links. it is not advisable to use other channels for downloading files, programs. They can be used to distribute unwanted, potentially malicious programs. It includes various third-party downloaders, unofficial pages, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), free file hosting pages. Third-party installers can be used to proliferate malware too. Also, it is recommended not to click on advertisements if they appear while visiting shady pages. It is common that ads of this kind are designed to promote untrustworthy websites or cause unwanted downloads, installations. Unwanted, unknown or suspicious extensions, add-ons, or plug-ins installed on a browser (or programs of this kind installed on the operating system) should be uninstalled. If your computer is already infected with DiscoveryUnit, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

Text in the pop-up window that may appear while DiscoveryUnit is installed:

"DiscoveryUnit" will damage your computer.
 
This file was downloaded on an unknown date.
 
OK
 
Show in Finder

Deceptive installer promoting DiscoveryUnit adware (first step):

Delusive installer used to promote DiscoveryUnit adware

Deceptive installer promoting DiscoveryUnit adware (second step):

discoveryunit adware installer step 2

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

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

IMPORTANT NOTE! In some cases malicious applications like DiscoveryUnit 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 DiscoveryUnit adware using Combo Cleaner:

DiscoveryUnit adware removal:

Remove DiscoveryUnit-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 discoveryunit 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 DiscoveryUnit removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by discoveryunit 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 discoveryunit 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 discoveryunit 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 DiscoveryUnit 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 DiscoveryUnit on your mobile device.
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