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How to get rid of the CharacterVirtualSearch adware

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

What is CharacterVirtualSearch?

CharacterVirtualSearch is adware and a browser hijacker that generates advertisements and promotes search.dominantmethod.com (a fake search engine) by changing the web browser's settings. This application is distributed through a fake installer imitating the installer for Adobe Flash Player.

CharacterVirtualSearch adware

CharacterVirtualSearch adware in detail

The ads displayed by CharacterVirtualSearch can open potentially malicious pages, various scams, and other untrustworthy websites. Also, they might download or install shady apps (if designed to execute specific scripts). Ads coming from CharacterVirtualSearch cannot be trusted.

Another issue with CharacterVirtualSearch is that it hijacks a web browser by changing the default search engine, homepage, and new tab to search.dominantmethod.com, a fake search engine. Search engines promoted through browser-hijacking apps can promote dubious pages, show results generated by other shady search engines.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by CharacterVirtualSearch
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 seven days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

More about adware

Apps like CharacterVirtualSearch are capable of collecting information about their users. In such cases, users are at risk of having their identities and personal accounts stolen or experiencing other problems related to online privacy, browsing safety. More adware examples are EasyMacSoft, MainOperation, FormulaBuffer.

How did CharacterVirtualSearch install on my computer?

CharacterVirtualSearch is distributed through a fake installer disguised as the installer for Adobe Flash Player. The website used to promote this installer is unknown, but it is clear that it is some deceptive website (for example, a page suggesting that Flash Player is out of date).

In other cases, adware is distributed using installers for other software, shady advertisements. Installers used to distribute adware have "Custom", "Advanced", or other settings. Users install adware alongside other software when they do not change those settings.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Use legitimate sources such as official websites and platforms to download applications/files. Other sources/channels should not be trusted. Do not click on advertisements that dubious websites (for example, on adult dating sites) display. Deselect optional downloads and installations before downloading and installing programs.

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

CharacterVirtualSearch adware changes the default search engine to search.dominantmethod.com:

charactervirtualsearch adware search.dominantmethod.com as the default search engine

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

  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.CharacterVirtualSearch/CharacterVirtualSearch
  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.CharacterVirtualSearchDaemon/CharacterVirtualSearch
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.CharacterVirtualSearch.plist
  • ~/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.CharacterVirtualSearchDaemon.plist

IMPORTANT NOTE! Rogue setups/apps that promote the CharacterVirtualSearch 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 (Dock) and select "Profiles".

Remove malicious profiles added by CharacterVirtualSearch (step 1)

2) Locate all suspicious profiles and delete them.

Remove malicious profiles added by CharacterVirtualSearch (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/browser hijacker.

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 CharacterVirtualSearch adware using Combo Cleaner:

CharacterVirtualSearch adware removal:

Remove CharacterVirtualSearch-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 charactervirtualsearch 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 CharacterVirtualSearch removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove ads by charactervirtualsearch 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 charactervirtualsearch 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 charactervirtualsearch 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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What harm can adware cause?

Adware can invade privacy, significantly diminish the Internet browsing experience, slow down a computer, and cause other problems.

What does adware do?

As a rule, the main purpose of adware is to display advertisements. Additionally, it can be designed to hijack a web browser (to promote a fake search engine) and gather information about its users.

How do adware developers generate revenue?

Adware is used to promote/advertise various products, websites, services. Most of the revenue that adware developers generate comes from affiliate programs.

Will Combo Cleaner remove CharacterVirtualSearch adware?

Yes, Combo Cleaner will scan your computer and eliminate CharacterVirtualSearch and other detected adware. Manual removal might not work because various file leftovers may remain hiding in the system even after the removal. Thus, it is recommended to remove adware automatically (with specialized software).

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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.

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