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How to uninstall WebSearchUpgrade adware from your operating system?

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

How to remove WebSearchUpgrade adware from Mac?

What is WebSearchUpgrade?

WebSearchUpgrade is a rogue application. It is classified as adware, and it has browser hijacker traits. It delivers intrusive advertisement campaigns and promotes fake search engines by making modifications to browser settings. Additionally, most adware-types and browser hijackers collect browsing-related information and sensitive details extracted from it. Due to the questionable techniques used to distribute WebSearchUpgrade, it is also categorized as a PUA (Potentially Unwanted Application). This app has been observed being spread via fake Adobe Flash Player updates. It is noteworthy that illegitimate software updaters/installers proliferate not only PUAs but trojans, ransomware, and other malware as well.

WebSearchUpgrade adware proliferated via fake Flash Player updater/installer

Adware enables the placement of third-party graphical content on any visited website and/or different interfaces. Software of this type delivers pop-ups, banners, coupons, surveys, full-page, and other intrusive advertisements. These ads seriously diminish the browsing experience as they overlay webpage content and slow down the browsing speed. Furthermore, intrusive adverts pose a threat to device and user safety. Once clicked on, the ads redirect to untrustworthy/malicious sites, and some can stealthily download/install software (e.g., PUAs).

Browser hijackers assign fake web searcher addresses as browsers' homepage, new tab/window, and default search engine URLs. Hence, with such a piece of software installed: new browser tabs/windows opened and search queries typed into the URL bar - redirect to the promoted address. Illegitimate search engines are rarely able to provide search results, so they tend to redirect (or cause redirection chains leading) to Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other genuine ones. Browser hijackers can undo any changes users try to make to their browsers and/or restrict/deny access to the browser settings outright. Therefore, recovering an affected browser is impossible without eliminating the software hijacking it.

What is more, most PUAs (adware and browser hijackers included) have data tracking abilities. Information of interest includes: URLs visited, webpages viewed, search queries types, IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, geolocations, and even personally identifiable details. PUA developers monetize the collected data by sharing it with and/or selling it to third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals). In summary, the presence of unwanted software on devices - can lead to system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. To ensure device integrity and user privacy, all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be removed immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by WebSearchUpgrade
Threat Type Adware, Mac malware, Mac virus
Detection Names Avast (MacOS:Adload-AD [Trj]), BitDefender (Adware.MAC.Generic.21504), 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.

TypicalProcessGlobalSearchSystemMainBoardSearch, and DiscoveryUnit are some examples of adware-type apps. They appear ordinary and harmless. Users are enticed into download/installation with offers of various functionalities. However, the promised features are seldom operational. In fact, this applies to practically all PUAs. The only goal of unwanted software is to generate revenue at user expense. Hence, instead of delivering on any promises, PUAs can run intrusive advert campaigns, hijack browsers, cause redirects, and collect private information.

How did WebSearchUpgrade install on my computer?

PUAs are distributed through downloaders/installers of other products. This deceptive marketing method of packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions - is called "bundling". Rushed downloads/installations (e.g., skipped steps, used "Easy/Express" settings, etc.) increase the risk of inadvertently allowing bundled content into the system. Intrusive advertisements are used to proliferate PUAs as well. Upon being clicked, the ads can execute scripts to download/install these applications without user permission. PUAs may also have "official" download websites.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is highly recommended to research products prior to download/installation and/or purchase. Additionally, all downloads must be performed from official and verified sources. Untrustworthy download channels, e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting sites, P2P sharing networks (Torrent clients, eMule, Gnutella, etc.), and other third-party downloaders - often offer harmful and bundled content. Download and installation processes must be treated with caution; that entails - reading terms, studying available options, using the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opting-out from supplementary apps, tools, functions, and other additions. Intrusive adverts appear legitimate and innocuous; however, they redirect to unreliable and dubious websites (e.g., gambling, adult-dating, pornography, etc.). In case of encounters with such ads and/or redirects, the system must be checked and all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - removed from it without delay. If your computer is already infected with WebSearchUpgrade, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

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

  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.WebSearchUpgrade/WebSearchUpgrade
  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.WebSearchUpgradeDaemon/WebSearchUpgrade
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.WebSearchUpgrade.plist
  • ~/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.WebSearchUpgradeDaemon.plist

IMPORTANT NOTE! Rogue setups/apps that promote WebSearchUpgrade adware are designed to create a new device profile. Therefore, before taking any further removal steps, perform these actions:
1) Click the "Preferences" icon in the menu bar and select "Profiles"

Remove rogue profiles designed to promote WebSearchUpgrade (Step 1)

2) Select the "WebSearchUpgrade" profile and delete it.

Remove rogue profiles designed to promote WebSearchUpgrade (Step 2)

3) Perform a full system scan with Combo Cleaner anti-virus suite.

After performing these actions, you can proceed with further removal steps for this adware.

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 WebSearchUpgrade adware using Combo Cleaner:

WebSearchUpgrade adware removal:

Remove WebSearchUpgrade-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 websearchupgrade 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 WebSearchUpgrade removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by websearchupgrade 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 websearchupgrade 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 websearchupgrade 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 WebSearchUpgrade 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 WebSearchUpgrade on your mobile device.
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Platform: macOS

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