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How to remove the PrimaryServiceSearch adware and the ads it delivers

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

What is PrimaryServiceSearch?

After investigating a fake Adobe Flash Player installer, we discovered the PrimaryServiceSearch rogue application. This app that was within the installer operated as adware on our test machine. It is noteworthy that PrimaryServiceSearch is part of the AdLoad malware family.

Fake Flash Player updater/installer carrying PrimaryServiceSearch adware

PrimaryServiceSearch adware overview

Adware stands for advertising-supported software. It displays advertisements on visited websites and/or other interfaces. The delivered ads promote various scams, unreliable/dangerous software, and even malware. Once clicked on, some intrusive adverts can execute scripts to perform stealthy downloads/installations.

It is pertinent to mention that while legitimate content can be encountered through these ads, it is highly unlikely to be endorsed in this manner by its developers. Scammers often abuse affiliate programs of genuine products in order to acquire illegitimate commissions for the promotion.

Adware might not run intrusive advert campaigns if certain conditions are unsuitable, e.g., incompatible browser/system specs, specific websites are not visited, etc. However, regardless of whether PrimaryServiceSearch displays advertisements – its presence on a system endangers device integrity and user safety.

AdLoad apps typically have browser hijacker abilities, and this might apply to PrimaryServiceSearch. Although during our analysis, this application did not exhibit any such traits.

Furthermore, PrimaryServiceSearch likely has data-tracking functionalities. Targeted information may include visited URLs, viewed webpages, searched queries, personally identifiable details, usernames/passwords, finance-related data, and so on. This sensitive information can be monetized by being sold to third-parties or otherwise abused for profit.

To summarize, the presence of advertising-supported software like PrimaryServiceSearch on devices can result in system infections, serious privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

Threat Summary:
Name Ads by PrimaryServiceSearch
Threat Type Adware, Mac malware, Mac virus
Detection Names Avast (MacOS:Adload-AD [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Gen:Variant.Adware.MAC.Adload.24), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of OSX/TrojanDownloader.Adloa), Kaspersky (Not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.OSX.Cimpli.k), 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 examples

We have analyzed countless adware-type applications; DigitalSectionFractionControlAdvancedHelper, and TrackAnalyser are merely some examples. This software usually appears legitimate/harmless and offers various features. However, these functions seldom work as promised, and in most cases – they are utterly non-operational.

How did PrimaryServiceSearch install on my computer?

PrimaryServiceSearch was installed on our test system by a fake Adobe Flash Player installer. Typically, deceptive or bundled installation set-ups are proliferated via online scams and dubious download sources (e.g., freeware and third-party sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.).

Advertising-supported software can also have "official" promotional webpages, and it is endorsed on scam sites. Most users enter these pages through websites that use rogue advertising networks, misspelled URLs, spam browser notifications, intrusive adverts, or installed adware (with browser force-opening capabilities).

Intrusive advertisements proliferate this software as well. Once clicked on, some of the ads can execute scripts to perform downloads/installations without user consent.

How to avoid installation of adware?

We strongly recommend researching software and downloading only from official/verified sources. When installing, it is essential to read terms, inspect available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings, and opt-out of additional apps, extensions, tools, features, etc.

We also advise caution when browsing since fraudulent and malicious content usually appears ordinary and innocuous. For example, intrusive ads may look harmless yet redirect to unreliable/questionable websites (e.g., gambling, pornography, adult-dating, etc.).

If you keep encountering advertisements/redirects of this kind, inspect the system and immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with PrimaryServiceSearch, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate this adware.

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

  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.PrimaryServiceSearch/PrimaryServiceSearch
  • ~/Library/Application Support/com.PrimaryServiceSearchDaemon/PrimaryServiceSearch
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.PrimaryServiceSearch.plist
  • ~/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.PrimaryServiceSearchDaemon.plist

IMPORTANT NOTE! Rogue setups/apps that promote websites 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 PrimaryServiceSearch (step 1)

2) Locate all suspicious profiles and delete them.

Remove malicious profiles added by PrimaryServiceSearch (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 PrimaryServiceSearch.

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 PrimaryServiceSearch adware using Combo Cleaner:

PrimaryServiceSearch adware removal:

Remove PrimaryServiceSearch-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?

Adware can diminish the browsing experience and system performance. This software usually has data-tracking abilities - hence, it is considered to be a threat to user privacy. Furthermore, adware delivers ads that promote hazardous material, which can cause serious problems (e.g., system infections, financial losses, etc.).

What does adware do?

Adware operates by displaying advertisements on various interfaces. Additionally, some types can cause redirects and gather private information.

How do adware developers generate revenue?

Most of the revenue is made through affiliate programs by promoting various websites, applications, products, services, etc. Adware developers might earn commission from ad clicks, site visits, file downloads, product purchases, service subscriptions, or similar.

Will Combo Cleaner remove PrimaryServiceSearch adware?

Yes, Combo Cleaner will scan your device and eliminate installed adware-type applications. It must be mentioned that manual removal (performed without the aid of security software) might be ineffective. In some cases, even after the adware has been manually removed - various components (files) remain hidden within the system. What is more, the remnants can continue running and causing issues. Therefore, adware must be removed thoroughly.

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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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