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How to remove GIMMICK malware from the operating system

Also Known As: GIMMICK virus
Type: Mac Virus
Damage level: Severe

What is GIMMICK malware?

Discovered by the Volexity cyber security firm, GIMMICK is an information-stealing malware. According to Volexity's analysis, this malicious program is used by Storm Cloud - a Chinese espionage group.

GIMMICK is a cross-platform malware; the macOS variant is (mostly) written in Objective C and the Windows version in both .NET and Delphi programming languages.

GIMMICK malware detections on VirusTotal

GIMMICK malware overview

Regardless of the operating system (OS) that GIMMICK targets, it operates similarly. This malicious program abuses Google Drive services to host its Command and Control (C2) servers. Following successful infiltration, GIMMICK creates a session to Google Drive - thus establishing a line of control.

As mentioned in the introduction, the primary functionality of this malware is to steal information (exfiltrate files, etc.). However, what data GIMMICK targets can vary drastically depending on the victim and the attackers' goals.

We can state with certainty that it exfiltrates device data (e.g., hardware UUID, MAC address, CPU model, OS version, etc.). However, this is standard in malware infections, as this information allows the program to learn whether complete infiltration is viable and whether the intended victim has been compromised.

GIMMICK also attempts to evade detection by scheduling tasks based on the victim's timetable. In other words, this program limits off-hour connections so as not to arouse suspicion (e.g., perform actions during workdays and work hours).

To summarize, malware like GIMMICK can cause severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

Apple has created new protections for all supported macOS versions. Therefore, to eradicate the vulnerabilities targeted by GIMMICK, we advise installing the latest updates available for your Mac device; you can check whether it is up-to-date on the macOS official support page.

If you suspect/know that your system has already been infected by GIMMICK, we strongly advise using an anti-virus to remove it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name GIMMICK virus
Threat Type Mac malware, Mac virus
Detection Names Avast (MacOS:Gimmick-A [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.MAC.Generic.109639), ESET-NOD32 (OSX/Gimmick.A), Mcafee (RDN/Generic.osx), Full List (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Malware like GIMMICK is designed to stealthily infiltrate the victim's computer and remain silent, and thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Distribution methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software 'cracks', fake Flash Player installers, torrent file downloads.
Damage Loss of private information, identity theft, the victim's computer added to a botnet.
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.

Information-stealing malware examples

NUKESPEDElectroRATGMERA, and Eleanor are a few examples of malware with data-stealing capabilities. Malicious software can have varied abilities, which can be in different combinations.

However, regardless of how malware operates, its infections endanger device integrity and user safety. Therefore, we highly recommend eliminating all threats immediately upon detection.

How did GIMMICK infiltrate my computer?

Malware is primarily proliferated employing phishing and social engineering tactics. Infectious files can be in various formats, e.g., executables, archives, PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, etc. Once such a file is opened - the infection chain is initiated. Malware is often disguised as or bundled (packed together) with ordinary software/media.

The most common distribution techniques include: drive-by (stealthy and deceptive) downloads, online scams (e.g., fake threat and outdated program alerts, bogus lotteries, etc.), attachments/links in spam emails and messages, untrustworthy download channels (e.g., unofficial and freeware websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal software activation tools ("cracks") and their download sites.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We strongly recommend using only official and verified download sources. Furthermore, all programs must be activated and updated with tools provided by legitimate developers, as those acquired from third-parties may contain malware.

The attachments and links present in spam emails and messages - must not be opened, as they can cause system infections.

We must emphasize the importance of having a reputable anti-virus installed and updated. This software must be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected threats and issues. If your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate all threats.

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 adware and browser hijackers from a Mac computer:

Potentially unwanted applications removal:

Remove 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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

My computer is infected with GIMMICK malware, should I format my storage device to get rid of it?

No, the removal of GIMMICK malware does not necessitate formatting.

What are the biggest issues that GIMMICK malware can cause?

GIMMICK is an information-stealing malicious program. Typically, malware of this type can cause severe privacy issues, financial losses, and result in identity theft. However, evidence suggests that the Chinese espionage group - Storm Cloud - is behind GIMMICK operations. Therefore, GIMMICK infections have to be considered in this context.

What is the purpose of GIMMICK malware?

GIMMICK has been linked to Storm Cloud - a Chine group focusing on espionage efforts. Hence, unlike the most common malware attacks that aim to generate revenue, these infections are politically/geopolitically motivated.

How did GIMMICK malware infiltrate my computer?

Malware is mainly distributed through: drive-by downloads, spam mail, online scams, dubious download sources (e.g., third-party and freeware sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal program activation ("cracking") tools, and fake updaters. Some malicious programs are capable of self-spreading via local networks and removable storage devices (e.g., external hard drives, USB flash drives, etc.).

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate most of the known malware infections. It must be stressed that performing a full system scan is essential - since sophisticated malicious software usually hides deep within systems.

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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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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.