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How to remove Advanced Mac Cleaner virus from Mac OS X

How to remove Advanced Mac Cleaner virus from Mac OS X


Remove Advanced Mac Cleaner rogue optimization tool from Mac OS X to stop its frustrating alerts and undo the concomitant bad effects it calls forth.

Update: May 2020

Advanced Mac Cleaner usually appears on Mac boxes out of the blue and floods the victim’s experience with annoying warning messages. Also known as Mac Cleaner, it dupes the user into thinking that their machine has got numerous problems hindering normal performance. According to the fake alerts, the operating system’s productivity is impacted by junk files, duplicate objects, unneeded login items, crammed up cache, trash and logs, as well as rogue apps that are claimed to occupy excessive hard disk space and thus reduce the processing speed as well as responsiveness to commands. The number of these wrongfully reported items is flagrant, going over 1000 even on a well-tuned or new Mac computer.

Advanced Mac Cleaner GUI constantly popping up to report fake issues

It’s not a commonplace distribution practice that’s leveraged by Advanced Mac Cleaner makers to promote their nasty brainchild. A great deal of infected users have caught this pseudo optimizer when installing free tools such as FileZilla or updating Adobe Flash Player via downloads from unofficial sources. In these cases, the setup wizard prompts you that an extra applet will be installed as a bonus to make the Mac run smoother. Some people are prudent enough to avoid such offers, which are generally known to deliver adware programs, but this caution doesn’t always help. Unless the bundle is manually unchecked and thus opted out of from the start, Advanced Mac Cleaner will still be installed in the background.

Advanced Mac Cleaner bundled with rogue Flash Player update

Furthermore, the culprit may additionally cross-promote affiliated scareware like Mac Adware Cleaner by means of prompts on its GUI. To add insult to injury, it may hijack the victim’s default web browser and redirect their traffic to landing pages pushing its licensed version or a copy of another rogue system utility, such as Mac Tonic, Mac Auto Fixer, or Advanced Mac Tuneup. The malware is also known to propagate alongside browser redirect viruses and persistent adware apps that affect the victim’s web surfing experience. One of the notorious campaigns pushing the scareware in question relies on sketchy browser alerts that report alleged infection with a combo of 3 viruses called Tapsnake, CronDNS, and Dubfishicv. The victims are redirected to phony web pages that mimic AppleCare and insist on urgent download of Advanced Mac Cleaner to sort out the problem that isn’t there in the first place. It appears that the gang behind the rogue program in question is deploying a well-orchestrated malicious marketing campaign with a distinct flavor of social engineering.

Irritating popups by Advanced Mac Cleaner keep showing up all the time

The user may be unaware of this forcible setup from the get-go, but not until a message like the one above pops up. It says that a huge number of issues have been found, specifying this information as follows “Issues may include duplicate files, system & internet junk, rogue software & recoverable drive space. Fix and enjoy a performance boost.” The ‘Start Repair’ button, if clicked, takes you to the junk application’s main interface that displays high improvement potential for each cluster of problems. Obviously, cleaning the purported bugs is a paid service. At that point, it’s reasonable to contemplate over what’s happening: you are being told to pay for rectifying issues that do not exist. It’s certainly the best move to get rid of the Advanced Mac Cleaner scam rather than follow the evildoers’ recommendations.

To gain a foothold in a system deeply enough to make the victim’s removal efforts futile, this scareware oldie leverages a method used by many modern Mac adware strains to maintain persistence. This technique is about repurposing the configuration profiles feature. In a benign scenario, it is a powerful tool to specify the behavior of a computer or multiple machines belonging to an enterprise network. By putting it to wrong use, Advanced Mac Cleaner operators make sure the traditional edits of the browser settings are off limits for the victim and the fields for the overhauled values simply aren’t clickable. That’s because the unwelcome device profile created by the infection controls a series of important preferences to impose predefined activity, from browser redirect nuisances to fake scan screens splashing up at random.

Another flavor of this scareware problem surfaced in October 2019. It was precipitated by a release of Apple’s macOS Catalina 10.15. After upgrading their operating system to the new version, numerous users started experiencing obnoxious popup activity with Advanced Mac Cleaner at its core. The annoying notifications say, “helperamc will damage your computer. You should move it to the Bin.” The process mentioned on these alerts is spawned by the rogue system tool under scrutiny and can be seen in the Activity Monitor, along with other related executables called “amcuninstall” and “hlpramc”.

Here is what’s happening: the latest macOS build, evidently, leverages an improved algorithm to identify potentially harmful apps. In particular, it will flag a program as a malicious one if it was installed on an unknown date, if its installer was downloaded from an unverified source, or in case some other telltale signs of sketchy activity are spotted. To let the users know about such suspicious objects, the system displays the above-mentioned popup dialogs. In this situation, the infection is probably in a dormant state and doesn’t manifest itself conspicuously. The Catalina update has simply unearthed the issue due to new security perks it delivers. Unfortunately, although the warnings include a “Move to Bin” button, it doesn’t work as intended. Therefore, the victims have to do their homework and find a way to remove Advanced Mac Cleaner despite its persistence.


Advanced Mac Cleaner manual removal for Mac

The steps listed below will walk you through the removal of this malicious application. Be sure to follow the instructions in the specified order.

  1. Expand the Go menu in your Mac’s Finder bar and select Utilities as shown below.

    Go to Utilities

  2. Locate the Activity Monitor icon on the Utilities screen and double-click on it.

    Select the Activity Monitor

  3. In the Activity Monitor app, look for helperamc or another process that appears suspicious. To narrow down your search, focus on unfamiliar resource-intensive entries on the list. Keep in mind that its name isn’t necessarily related to the way the threat is manifesting itself, so you’ll need to trust your own judgement. If you pinpoint the culprit, select it and click on the Stop icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.

    Stop malicious process

  4. When a follow-up dialog pops up asking if you are sure you want to quit the troublemaking process, select the Force Quit option.

    Select the Force Quit option

  5. Click on the Go menu icon in the Finder again and select Go to Folder. You can as well use the Command-Shift-G keyboard shortcut.

    Use the Go to Folder feature

  6. Type /Library/LaunchAgents in the folder search dialog and click on the Go button.

    Open /Library/LaunchAgents folder

  7. Examine the contents of the LaunchAgents folder for dubious-looking items. The objects known to be associated with Advanced Mac Cleaner are as follows: com.pcv.hlpramc.plist, com.pcv.helperamc.plist, com.pcv.amcuninstall.plist, and com.PCvark.AdvancedMacCleaner.plist.

    Be advised that the names of files spawned by malware may give no clear clues that they are malicious, so you should look for recently added entities that appear to deviate from the norm. As an illustration, here are several examples of LaunchAgents related to mainstream Mac infections: com.updater.mcy.plist, com.avickUpd.plist, and com.msp.agent.plist. If you spot files that don’t belong on the list, go ahead and drag them to the Trash.

    Root-level LaunchAgents folder contents

  8. Use the Go to Folder lookup feature again to navigate to the folder named ~/Library/Application Support (note the tilde symbol prepended to the path).

    Open ~/Library/Application Support folder

  9. When the Application Support directory is opened, identify recently generated suspicious folders in it and send them to the Trash. A quick tip is to look for items whose names have nothing to do with Apple products or apps you knowingly installed. A few examples of known-malicious folder names are Advanced Mac Cleaner, amc, SoftwareUpdater, and IdeaShared.

    Application Support folder contents

  10. Enter ~/Library/LaunchAgents string (don’t forget to include the tilde character) in the Go to Folder search area.

    Open ~/Library/LaunchAgents directory

  11. The system will display LaunchAgents residing in the current user’s Home directory. Look for dodgy items related to Advanced Mac Cleaner virus (see logic highlighted in subsections above) and drag the suspects to the Trash.

    Contents of LaunchAgents folder in user’s home directory

  12. Type /Library/LaunchDaemons in the Go to Folder search field.

    Go to /Library/LaunchDaemons

  13. In the LaunchDaemons path, try to pinpoint the files the malware is using for persistence. Several examples of such items cropped by Mac infections are com.pplauncher.plist, com.startup.plist, and com.ExpertModuleSearchDaemon.plist. Delete the sketchy files immediately.

    LaunchDaemons folder contents

  14. Click on the Go menu icon in your Mac’s Finder and select Applications on the list.

    Go to Applications screen on Mac

  15. Find the entry for Advanced Mac Cleaner or another app that clearly doesn’t belong there and move it to the Trash. If this action requires your admin password for confirmation, go ahead and enter it.

    Drag malicious app to the Trash

  16. Expand the Apple menu and select System Preferences.

    Select System Preferences

    Open System Preferences

  17. Proceed to Users & Groups and click on the Login Items tab.

    Proceed to Users & Groups

    The system will display the list of items launched when the computer is starting up. Locate the potentially unwanted app there and click on the “-” (minus) button.

    Delete unwanted login item

  18. Now select Profiles under System Preferences. Look for a malicious item in the left-hand sidebar. Several examples of configuration profiles created by Mac adware include TechSignalSearch, MainSearchPlatform, AdminPrefs, and Chrome Settings. Select the offending entity and click on the minus sign at the bottom to eliminate it.

    Select Profiles under System Preferences

    Remove malicious configuration profile from Mac

    If your Mac has been infiltrated by adware, the infection will most likely continue to hold sway over your default web browser even after you remove the underlying application along with its components sprinkled around the system. Use the browser cleanup instructions below to address the remaining consequences of this attack.

Get rid of Advanced Mac Cleaner virus virus in web browser on Mac

To begin with, the web browser settings taken over by the Advanced Mac Cleaner virus virus should be restored to their default values. Although this will clear most of your customizations, web surfing history, and all temporary data stored by websites, the malicious interference should be terminated likewise. The overview of the steps for completing this procedure is as follows:

  1. Remove Advanced Mac Cleaner virus virus from Safari
    • Open the browser and go to Safari menu. Select Preferences in the drop-down list

      Go to Preferences in Safari

    • Once the Preferences screen appears, click on the Advanced tab and enable the option saying “Show Develop menu in menu bar”.

      Advanced tab under Safari Preferences

    • Now that the Develop entry has been added to the Safari menu, expand it and click on Empty Caches.

      Empty Caches in Safari

    • Now select History in the Safari menu and click on Clear History in the drop-down list.

      Clear history in Safari

    • Safari will display a dialog asking you to specify the period of time this action will apply to. Select all history to ensure a maximum effect. Click on the Clear History button to confirm and exit.

      Select all history to clear

    • Go back to the Safari Preferences and hit the Privacy tab at the top. Find the option that says Manage Website Data and click on it.

      Manage Website Data option under Privacy tab

    • The browser will display a follow-up screen listing the websites that have stored data about your Internet activities. This dialog additionally includes a brief description of what the removal does: you may be logged out of some services and encounter other changes of website behavior after the procedure. If you’re okay with that, go ahead and click on the Remove All button.

      Confirmation dialog

    • Restart Safari
  2. Remove Advanced Mac Cleaner virus in Google Chrome
    • Open Chrome, click the Customize and control Google Chrome (⁝) icon in the top right-hand part of the window, and select Settings in the drop-down

      Chrome Settings

    • When on the Settings pane, select Advanced
    • Scroll down to the Reset settings section.

      Reset settings in Chrome on Mac

    • Confirm the Chrome reset on a dialog that will pop up. When the procedure is completed, relaunch the browser and check it for malware activity.

      Here’s how to reset settings in Chrome on Mac

  3. Remove Advanced Mac Cleaner virus from Mozilla Firefox
    • Open Firefox and go to Help – Troubleshooting Information (or type about:support in the URL bar and press Enter).

      Open Firefox and go to Help

      Select Troubleshooting Information

    • When on the Troubleshooting Information screen, click on the Refresh Firefox button.

      Refresh Firefox on Mac

    • Confirm the intended changes and restart Firefox.

Use automatic tool to completely uninstall Advanced Mac Cleaner from your Mac

If you go the manual cleanup route, it may take you hours to find and delete all components of the misbehaving application. You also run the risk of missing hidden files and failing to eliminate the stubborn ones. There is an easier and faster way to sort things out. You can use App Cleaner & Uninstaller, an automatic tool that will thoroughly purge the sketchy program along with all of its junk fragments it may try to conceal.

In addition to the software uninstall feature, this utility allows you to reset Mac applications to their original state, wipe the leftovers of previously removed programs, and get rid of system and browser extensions with a few clicks of a mouse. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Download and install App Cleaner & Uninstaller. Download Now
  2. Run the program and wait until it scans all your apps.
  3. Select the unneeded app in the left-hand sidebar and click Remove.

    App Cleaner & Uninstaller application removal pane

  4. If you have tried to uninstall the unwanted application manually to no avail, chances are that some leftover files keep affecting your Mac. To obliterate these residual objects for good, click Remains (“R” icon), pick the program name in the list, enable Select All checkbox, and click Remove.

    Delete app leftovers

  5. Hit the Extensions (“E” icon) tab to disable rogue startup items, delete malicious Launch Agents, and remove persistent browser extensions added by Mac malware. Then, choose the appropriate category in the left-hand navigation pane, and delete the items that don’t belong on your machine.

    Delete Mac extensions with App Cleaner & Uninstaller

  6. In case your web browser is displaying unwanted ads or redirecting you to dodgy sites due to adware activity, you may want to reset it. Go back to the Applications tab, right-click the browser icon, and pick the Select Service Files for Removal option in the context menu. Make sure all boxes are checked and click Remove to get the job done.

     


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