What is AdLoad?

AdLoad is a harmful program designed to silently hook up to the Mac OS and execute malicious activities. The malicious program targets web browsers to control it and causes redirects to harmful websites to generate revenue. This malware program is being used by cyber-criminals as a proxy redirect servers. For which, the AdLoad installs a Man-in-The-Middle web proxy that redirect the user’ traffic to harmful servers, mostly preferred by the attackers.

This program generally installs while users click on fake flash player update links on scam pages. Doing so, will silently install the fake version of the flash player along with additional adware or malware programs. AdLoad malware is capable to escape the firewall of the device and also other installed anti-virus programs. Due to which it can silently run within the background and execute various illicit tasks.

It is not a new Mac threat, AdLoad is active since 2017 and its been regarded as an aggressive malware that continuously being targeting Mac users. The developers of the persistent threat continue to test and adapt new ways to invade to the system and avoid being detected by the built-in Mac security.

How AdLoad Malware Get Install?

Like said earlier, AdLoad is distributed via fake download/update links within malicious pages. These are deceptive pages that aims to distribute potentially unwanted programs and adware included within the set up. Thus, users may not know that the freeware they are installing contains additional programs that goes undetected till it starts its malicious activities.

AdLoad Malware Mac

AdLoad Malware Mac

To avoid this, users must be careful when they encounter any unknown page claiming to update flash player or browser version. Also, choose custom installation step while installing any freeware downloaded from third-party sites.

What It Does To The Target Device?

Once installed, the program first asks for the admin permission or authorization with dialog box asking for admin password. If user does so, the AdLoad malware gets the admin permission to drops various files to the system directories to launch automatically when the user turns on its device. According to research, this malware is also known by other names like “SearchDaemon”, “Lookup”, “DataSearch” and “Results” and so on. Thus, users may face difficulty to locate its files manually and remove them.

The AdLoad malware drop two files within the LaunchDaemon directory. The files are added to the local user library in the Local Domain Library and LaunchAgent:

For example,

If the AdLaod malware drops in the name of “Lookup” adware then, user may see “com.Lookup.plist” file within the “~/Library/LaunchAgents/” and an executable file within “~/Library/Application Support/com.Lookup/Lookup“.

Secondly, it drops files within the LaunchDaemons:

The file named “com.LookupDaemon.plist” is dropped within the “~/Library/LaunchDaemons/” directory to target an executable in its program argument “~/Library/Application Support/com.LookupDaemon/Lookup“.

After that it creates “com.LookupP.plist” within the “~/Library/LaunchDaemons/” to target a Macho executable file “LookupDaemon” in “/var/root/.SearchQuest/LookupDaemon“.

Malicious Activities

To open a remote connection with its host, it creates a python script (“Lookup.py“). Also, the program is capable to regenerate its files if got deleted as it drop a hidden process file within the directory (“/var/root/.mitmproxy“).

Additionally, the AdLaod malware also an executable file within the subfolder of Library Application Support known as “cron job” file. The is done to auto-execute the program to a regular interval of time. This program is mainly designed to control the browser and force the user it visit questionable or malicious pages, click on fake ads or silently install PUA. Also, accidental clicks on fake links helps the authors behind it to generate traffic for its sponsored sites and earn their profit.

The redirected traffic can be sent to harmful pages to conduct any malicious actions and thus users should be alert if they notice unstable browser behavior or uncertain redirect. You may also see your homepage and search engine substituted by some unknown one. AdLaod malware constantly monitors online activities of users and send the browsing information to its authors via remote connection. Your device is not secure and all data fed to the redirect websites could be misused badly. Thus, you should be quick to remove AdLoad and its other associated adware programs from your Mac OS.

How to Remove AdLoad From Mac (Guide)

This is a complete manual removal guide for Mac users. It consist of step-by-step removal of unwanted programs.  For instance, Adware, browser hijackers, redirects, Trojans and other malware. The manual removal may take several minutes, therefore you have to patience. Please follow the steps carefully. If you are in hurry, then we suggest you to go for automatic removal solution.

Combo Cleaners LogoCombo Cleaner DOWNLOAD LINK
(The above link will open a new page from where the Combo Cleaner will download)
“AdLoad” may reinstall itself multiple times if you don’t delete its core files. We recommend downloading Combo Cleaner to scan for malicious programs. This may save your precious time and effort. Combo Cleaner scans the infected PC for free but you need to purchase its full version for complete removal. More information on Combo Cleaner.

To Remove AdLoad Extension and AdLoad from Mac OS, follow the steps:


STEP 1: Remove Unknown Profiles Created by AdLoad Program From Mac OS

Profiles are utility that allows business or organizations to control the actions and behavior of the Mac system. Thus, any profile created by the admins will prevent the users to change them. However, adware distributes design their programs that may create new profile. As a result, it prevents user from uninstalling the adware or other malware program.

So, we first need to find out if there is any malicious profile created on the Mac. If yes, then you have to remove them.

Please follow the Steps here:

    1. Select System Preferences from the Apple menu;
      Open System Preferences

      Open System Preferences

    2. Within the System Preferences window, find “Profiles” icon; (If you can’t find the profile icon, it means may not have any profiles created.)
      Choose Users & Groups Icon

      Choose Users & Groups Icon

    3. When the “Profile” Window opens, look for the unknown profiles. To remove AdLoad fake user profile, select it and click on the – (minus) button.
      Remove Unknown User Profile By AdLoad

      Remove Unknown User Profile By AdLoad

    4. Repeat the steps to remove all unknown profiles.

STEP 2: Uninstall AdLoad/Malicious Apps From Mac OS

In this step, You need to locate for AdLoad application or unknown programs that you may not have installed yourself. Remove all such apps from your system.

  1. Open “Finder” application from your dock;
    Finder

    Finder

  2. In the left pane of the Finder, click on “Applications“;
    Choose Applications

    Choose Applications

  3. The Applications window will display the list of all apps installed on your Mac OS. Next, you need to locate the AdLoad/suspicious apps by scrolling.
  4. To remove AdLoad, right-click on it, and then click “Move to Trash”. (Repeat this step until you remove all such apps).
    Remove AdLoad Application

    Remove AdLoad Application

  5. Now you need to empty the trash as sometimes program can restore themselves from the trash. On your dock, right-click on the trash icon and then select “Empty Trash”.

STEP 3: Remove AdLoad Daemons And Agents From Mac’s Startup

  1. From top menu On Desktop → Choose Go→Go to Folder;
    Go To Folder

    Go To Folder

  2. Within the “Go To Folder” pop-up window, enter the following paths along with AdLoad.plist one by one. This will locate the malicious files created by the apps.
    • /Library/LaunchAgents
      Remove Launch Agents By AdLoad

      Remove Launch Agents By AdLoad

    • ~/Library/LaunchAgents
    • /Library/Application Support
    • /Library/LaunchDaemons

For instance, If a malicious program named AdLoad, then you may see ~/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.AdLoad.plist”, within this location.  You will see lots of files with “.plist” extension. Scroll through it and find the ones which appear to be suspicious.

    • To Remove launch agents by AdLoad, right click on it and “More To Trash”.
      Delete AdLoad Malicious Agents

      Delete AdLoad Malicious Agents

Similarly, do this for launching agents locations: /Library/LaunchAgents/com.AdLoad.plist.

NOTE: Do not forget to empty the trash. 


STEP 4: Use ComboCleaner Scan To Remove AdLoad

Combo Cleaners LogoCombo Cleaner DOWNLOAD LINK
(The above link will open a new page from where the Combo Cleaner will download)
“AdLoad” may reinstall itself multiple times if you don’t delete its core files. We recommend downloading Combo Cleaner to scan for malicious programs. This may save your precious time and effort. Combo Cleaner scans the infected PC for free but you need to purchase its full version for complete removal. More information on Combo Cleaner.

Combo Cleaner is a complete security suite for Mac OS that is developed by “RCS LT” company. This program is featured with anti-virus scanner and system optimization tools like disk cleaner, duplicate files finder, application uninstaller, privacy scanner, and 24*7 customer support service.

It is very important to have a reliable anti-virus solution for the computer system. Combo cleaner is one of the best options for MAC users as detects and eliminates all sorts of threats like adware, browser hijacker, Trojans, and other malware.

How to Install and Scan with Combo Cleaner

  • 1. Click the above button to Download the “Combo Cleaner”;

  • 2. Once the download completes, double-click on the downloaded file;

  • 3. After the window opens, drag the Combo Cleaner program icon and drop it into your “Applications folder” icon.

    Combo Cleaner Install Step 2

    Combo Cleaner Install Step 2

  • 4. Now, open your “Launchpad” and click on the “Combo Cleaner” icon.

    Combo Cleaner Install Step 3

    Combo Cleaner Install Step 3

  • 5. This will start the combo cleaner installation and updates its latest virus definition. Once done, Combo cleaner will launch;

    Combo Cleaner Dashboard

    Combo Cleaner Dashboard

  • 6. Click on “Antivirus” tab and choose the scan options like Quick, Full, and custom. (Full is recommended for the first time)

    Combo Cleaner Antivirus Scan

    Combo Cleaner Antivirus Scan

  • 7. Let the scan be completed and it will list all the threats found. Now, click on “Remove All Threats”;

    Combo Cleaner Scan Results

    Combo Cleaner Scan Results

  • 8. after removing the threats, click on the “uninstaller” to find and remove any unwanted programs. Select the program from the list and its related files and then click on “Remove Selected Items“

    Remove AdLoad And Other Threats

    Remove AdLoad And Other Threats


STEP 5: Remove AdLoad From Safari, Chrome, And Firefox Web Browsers

Reset Safari

Safari Browser

To Remove AdLoad Extensions, homepage redirects From Safari Browser, follow steps:

    • On the Safari browser, click the “Safari” menu then select “Preferences”.
      Safari Preferences

      Safari Preferences

    • On the “General” tab of the Safari preferences, check for AdLoad URL added as the default homepage. Within the “Homepage” field enter your preferred URL as your default start-page of the browser.
      Reset Safari Homepage

      Reset Safari Homepage

    • Next, you need to check for malicious extensions, click on the “Extensions” tab on the same window.
    • The “Extensions” screen will list all the extensions installed on your safari browser. You need to browse through the list and uninstall AdLoad extension or Adware. Select it and then click on “Uninstall”. Repeat the steps to remove all unwanted extensions.
      Uninstall AdLoad Extension From Safari

      Uninstall AdLoad Extension From Safari

  1. Delete Safari’s preferences file to reset the default settings

Even after performing the above steps, some malicious program may reappear again. This happens because adware and browser hijackers creates new files within the preferences. Thus, they are able to replace the homepage and search engine URLs each time when user launches the Safari.

To do this, follow the below steps:

    • Close the Safari browser;
    • Come to normal desktop mode, now choose “Go” from the top menu then click on “Go to Folder“.
    • Within the “Go to Folder: pop-up window, enter the ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.plist path and click on GO;
      Safari Reset

      Safari Reset

    • Delete the file, if found;
    • Launch the Safari Again.

Reset Google Chrome

Google Chrome

 

To Remove AdLoad From Chrome (Extensions, homepage redirects), follow steps:

Similarly,  you need to reset the default settings of Chrome browser. In order to remove unknown extensions, search engines, startup, and new tabs.

It is better to use the default reset feature of the Google Chrome. This will reset all the unwanted modifications done by third-party programs. It should be noted that you will not lose your saved passwords and bookmarks. (Sync your Google with Account to secure them first). However, it will delete cookies, extensions, startups, URLs, homepage and new tabs preferences.

    • Click on Chrome’s main menu then choose “Settings“. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Advanced”;
      Google Chrome Advanced Settings

      Google Chrome Advanced Settings

    • Under the Advanced page, go for “Reset and clean up” section.  Then click on “Reset settings to their original defaults”;
      Remove AdLoad Extension And Reset Chrome

      Remove AdLoad Extension And Reset Chrome

    • Next, click on “Reset”, when you will be prompted for a confirmation “This will reset your startup page, a new tab page, search engine, and pinned tabs. It will also disable all extensions and clear temporary data like cookies. Your bookmarks, history, and saved passwords will not be cleared”;
    • Click on the “Reset Settings” button to confirm the procedure. After that, it may ask to restart your browser, click “Yes”.
  1. Remove Chrome’s policies created by AdLoad Program

If the above reset solution does not work for you, then it may possible that the malicious programs has created policies within the chrome browser. This certainly restricts the unwanted apps, homepage and search engine settings to reset again.  The Chrome polices are listed within chrome://policy URL. You can check the unwanted policies created by malicious apps. If this is the case then you need to remove them.

To reset such policies from chrome browser, follow the steps below:

    • Open a Terminal window. Go to Finder → Go → Utilities → Terminal;
      Open Terminal Window

      Open Terminal Window

    • Within the Terminal window, execute the following commands one by one. And press enter after each command.
      Delete Chrome Policies

      Delete Chrome Policies

defaults write com.google.Chrome HomepageIsNewTabPage -bool false
defaults write com.google.Chrome NewTabPageLocation -string “https://www.google.com/”
defaults write com.google.Chrome HomepageLocation -string “https://www.google.com/”
defaults delete com.google.Chrome DefaultSearchProviderSearchURL
defaults delete com.google.Chrome DefaultSearchProviderNewTabURL
defaults delete com.google.Chrome DefaultSearchProviderName
defaults delete com.google.Chrome ExtensionInstallSources
    • After executing the above commands, launch the Chrome browser again. To check the unknown policies to be removed successfully. Type  “chrome://policy” within the address bar and click on  “Reload policies”.
      Reload Chrome Policy

      Reload Chrome Policy

    • Now, the malicious policies should be gone. After that,  you can modify your homepage, new tab and search engine as per your preferences.

NOTE: Last but not the least, if the above solution also does not work for you. Then the malicious programs may have install “Managed by your organization” policy. As a consequence it restricts to remove the unknown extension or homepage even after resetting the browser.

Please follow our guide Remove “Managed by your organization” Chrome Hijack From Mac


 

Reset FirefoxMozilla Firefox Browser

 

To Remove AdLoad Extension, homepage redirects From Mozilla Firefox Browser, follow steps:

Finally, if you have facing same issues with Firefox browser, then follow the steps to refresh it.

    • Open Firefox’s Main Menu button by clicking on three horizontal lines. After that, from the drop-down menu select “Help“;
    • Click on the “Troubleshooting Information,“ from the Help menu;
      Troubleshooting Information Firefox

      Troubleshooting Information Firefox

    • From the upper-right corner of the “Troubleshooting Information” page, click on the “Refresh Firefox”.
      Reset Firfox

      Reset Firefox

    • To confirm, click on the “Refresh Firefox” button, within the confirmation pop-up window.
    • Click on the “Finish“ button.

By the time now, your Mac should free from adware and other malicious programs. Most importantly, you should always have a reliable anti-malware with real-time protection features. So, that it can trace the behaviors of unwanted program at its earliest. And quarantine it from being making serious damages.

Double Check for Malicious Files and Enable Safe Browsing Using Intego Internet Security X9

After removing persistent threat AdLoad, it is important to safe guard the browser. So that such browser hijackers may not enter to your browser like Safari, Chrome , Mozilla.

The Intego Internet security X9 not only provides real-time antivirus protection for Macs. But also scans files whenever they’re accessed to keep your Mac free of malware.

It it integrated with “Safe Browsing” feature that configures advanced browser settings that will prevent redirects to malicious or fraudulent sites, fake downloads and warn you if you visit any harmful site.

Intego Safe Browsing

Intego Safe Browsing

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