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How to remove UniversalHandler from Mac

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

What kind of application is UniversalHandler?

After examining UniversalHandler, we learned that it is an untrustworthy application designed to generate intrusive advertisements. Apps of this type are classified as adware (advertising-supported applications). It is uncommon for adware to be downloaded and installed willfully. We discovered UniversalHandler after using a fake installer.

UniversalHandler adware

UniversalHandler adware in detail

Clicking on advertisements generated by UniversalHandler opens shady websites. For example, pages requesting sensitive information, encouraging to download dubious apps, urging to call fake technical support numbers, asking permission to show notifications, etc. Also, clicking them can cause unexpected downloads or even installations.

After examining numerous apps similar to UniversalHandler, we learned that sometimes they can hijack web browsers by changing their settings. In such cases, they not only show unwanted ads but also force users to browse the Internet using fake search engines. Search engines of this kind promote untrustworthy websites and (or) show results by shady (or legitimate) search engines.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by UniversalHandler
Threat Type Adware, Mac malware, Mac virus
Detection Names (.system) Avast (MacOS:Adload-AM [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Gen:Variant.Adware.MAC.Adload.15), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of OSX/TrojanDownloader.Adload.AE), Kaspersky (Not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.OSX.Agent.u), Full List (VirusTotal)
Detection Names (.service) Avast (MacOS:Adload-AM [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Gen:Variant.Adware.MAC.Adload.15), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of OSX/TrojanDownloader.Adload.AE), Kaspersky (Not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.OSX.Agent.u), 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 seven days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

Adware in general

Adware is often promoted as useful, legitimate software. Nevertheless, it always displays intrusive advertisements that may open untrustworthy pages. Sometimes, adware can access sensitive information. Thus, it is strongly recommended not to install adware and remove already installed software of this type as soon as possible.

More adware examples are MinimalEnergy, TeachPad, and OperationReview.

How did UniversalHandler install on my computer?

UniversalHandler is distributed via a fake Adobe Flash Player installer that can be downloaded from various deceptive websites. Also, adware can be installed via untrustworthy ads designed to run certain scripts and software bundles.

When adware is bundled with other apps, installers have "Advanced", "Custom", or other settings. Users install adware alongside other software when they leave those settings unchanged. Either way, users rarely download and install adware on purpose.

How to avoid installation of unwanted applications?

Do not complete downloads and installations until unwanted apps (optional downloads and installations) are deselected. Also, do not click on advertisements displayed on suspicious pages or allow such pages to show notifications. Download apps from official pages and stores (do not use third-party downloaders, P2P networks, and similar sources).

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

Fake installer promoting UniversalHandler adware (first installation step):

universalhandler adware installer

Fake installer promoting UniversalHandler adware (second installation step):

universalhandler adware installer step 2

A pop-up that shows up while UniversalHandler is installed:

universalhandler adware pop-up that appears while adware is present

Text in this notification:

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

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

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

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

UniversalHandler adware removal:

Remove UniversalHandler-related potentially unwanted applications from your "Applications" folder:

Manual removal of malicious Mac applications

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)

What harm can adware cause?

It can diminish the web browsing experience by showing ads that cover the contents of visited pages, affect computer performance, invade privacy, and (or) cause other issues.

What does adware do?

In most cases, adware displays annoying advertisements. Sometimes, it can have additional capabilities (to hijack a web browser or collect information).

How do adware developers generate revenue?

The most popular way to make money using adware is to participate in affiliate programs. Affiliates generate revenue by promoting various pages, products, services, etc.

Will Combo Cleaner remove UniversalHandler adware?

Yes, Combo Cleaner will scan the operating system and remove all adware. Manual removal does not always work (file leftovers remain in the system even after the removal). Thus, we recommend using Combo Cleaner for removal (remove adware automatically).

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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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Ads by UniversalHandler QR code
Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Ads by UniversalHandler on your mobile device.
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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.