The post describes the Chill Tab virus issue affecting web browsers on Mac and provides instructions on removing the annoying redirects and popup alerts.
Update: November 2019
People are so concerned about privacy these days and can’t stand any interference with their personal space. This issue has partially migrated to the cyber world as the technology moves forward at a gigantic pace. How about one’s web browsing? This thing is intimate to the bone as it holds tons of personally identifiable information and numerous settings that also speak volumes about the user. The violation of these preferences is just as disconcerting as real-life privacy infringements. That's exactly what happens if the Chill Tab virus takes root on a Mac computer. It doesn’t bother asking for the admin’s approval when changing the most important online surfing defaults.
In particular, the Chill Tab nuisance skews such custom browsing settings as the homepage, search and new tab page in Safari, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox on a Mac. In the upshot, the victim finds himself or herself in a wicked loop of constantly visiting the search.chill-tab.com or tab.chill-tab.com web page. Although either site is harmless in itself and appears to be some sort of a search provider, it would probably never make it to the user’s browsing history if it weren’t for a sneaky malware attack prior to the emergence of symptoms. This combo of a browser hijacker and persistent adware typically infiltrates Mac machines as part of application bundles. Because the presence of the baddie isn’t clearly disclosed by these installation wizards, people run the risk of unknowingly allowing the setup.
The Chill Tab virus has gained notoriety for its extraordinary persistence and evasion techniques. The affected Mac users find it difficult to spot the associated malicious process in the Activity Monitor, and the unwanted item often hides its footprint from the browser extensions pane as well as the Applications path. It may show up there momentarily when the victim opens either one of these directories, only to mystically vanish right away. Even if found and deleted, which seems to be an instance of great luck, the pest keeps reinstalling itself under a different name to the ‘Users – Shared’ folder. These constant comebacks are a serious hurdle to fixing the problem.
Another symptom is that Safari will be randomly starting up and displaying a popup that says, “Scanning for browser updates”. This will be followed by an onset of another window saying, “Your browser is now up to date!” Next, the user may see the above-mentioned request to install Chill Tab extension. Ultimately, this onslaught turns into an iterative display of nag screens mixed up with browser rerouting. Such a state of things, obviously, isn’t on any Mac user’s wish list, to put it mildly. The Chill Tab (search.chill-tab.com / tab.chill-tab.com) virus should be exterminated as soon as possible. The methodology of this cleanup is what the following sections will cover in detail.
Chill Tab virus 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 order specified.
- Open up the Utilities folder as shown below
- Locate the Activity Monitor icon on the screen and double-click on it
- Under Activity Monitor, find the entry for Chill Tab or Chill-Tab, select it and click Quit Process
- A dialog should pop up, asking if you are sure you would like to quit the troublemaking process. Select the Force Quit option
- Click the Go button again, but this time select Applications on the list. Find the entry for Chill Tab on the interface, right-click on it and select Move to Trash. If user password is required, go ahead and enter it
- Now go to Apple Menu and pick the System Preferences option
- Select Accounts and click the Login Items button. The system will come up with the list of the items that launch when the box is started up. Locate Chill Tab there and click on the “-“ button
- Expand the Go menu in Apple Finder and select Go to Folder
- Type or paste the following string in the folder search dialog: /Library/LaunchAgents
- Once the LaunchAgents directory opens up, find the following entries in it and move them to Trash:
- Use the Go to Folder lookup feature again to navigate to the folder named ~/Library/LaunchAgents. When this path opens, look for the same entries (see above) and send them to Trash
- Similarly, go to the ~Library/Application Support folder. Locate and move the following entries to Trash:
Get rid of search.chill-tab.com / tab.chill-tab.com redirects in web browser
To begin with, settings for the web browser that got hit by the Chill Tab virus should be restored to their default values. The overview of steps for this procedure is as follows:
- Reset Safari
- Open the browser and go to Safari menu. Select Preferences in the drop-down list
- Once the Preferences screen appears, hit the Privacy tab at the top. Find the option that says Remove All Website Data and click on it
- The system will display a confirmation dialog that also includes a brief description of what the reset does. Specifically, 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 the Remove Now button
- In order to selectively clear data generated by certain websites only, not all of them, hit the Details button under the Privacy section of Safari Preferences
- This feature will list all websites that have stored potentially sensitive data, including cache and cookies. Select the one, or ones, that might be causing trouble and click the appropriate button at the bottom (Remove or Remove All). Click the Done button to exit.
- Open the browser and go to Safari menu. Select Preferences in the drop-down list
- Reset Google Chrome
- Open Chrome and click the Customize and Control Google Chrome menu icon
- Select Options for a new window to appear
- Select Under the Hood tab, then click Reset to defaults button
- Reset Mozilla Firefox
- Open Firefox and select Help – Troubleshooting Information
- On the page that opened, click the Reset Firefox button
Use automatic tool to uninstall Chill Tab malware from your Mac
- Download and install MacBooster application (read review). The tool provides both optimization and security features for your Mac. As part of obliterating the Chill Tab infection proper, consider also checking your machine for other security risks and performance issues by hitting the Scan button.
- Proceed to the Uninstaller feature, find Chill Tab on the Applications list and have MacBooster completely eliminate all components of the app from your Mac by clicking Uninstall in the bottom part of the GUI. Doing so will ensure all components of the malware and its remainders, which may have not been removed in the manual way, will be thoroughly cleaned up.
Chill Tab, also known as Chill-Tab, is a potentially unwanted Mac app manifesting itself as an intrusive browser extension. It pretends to enhance one’s web search experience by providing a shortcut to access an all-in-one information lookup source. Although it claims to only change the new tab setting in Safari, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox, the actual tweaks extend further to the default search and homepage configuration. All of these preferences are replaced with search.chill-tab.com or tab.chill-tab.com page. The search requests entered in these bogus providers return Yahoo Search results. Therefore, the virus takes over a significant portion of the victim’s Internet traffic without their awareness and approval.
Although Chill Tab has an “official” web page briefly describing its alleged functionality, very few people install it via that channel. Instead, the application mostly comes bundled with legit freeware so that users are unaware that they are additionally getting the extra item. As part of this furtive infiltration, the infection obtains permissions to manage the browsing settings on a host Mac. This explains why it can easily modify the user’s online defaults to set in motion fraudulent redirect activity.
When running in a web browser, Chill Tab also displays strange and annoying popups that say, “Your browser is now up to date” and “Are you sure you want to install the extension Chill-Tab?” The former notification encourages the victim to click OK to continue, which can be a disguised authorization of follow-up adware attacks. The latter dialog often appears after the user manually removes the malicious extension from the affected browser. Due to deep penetration of the underlying harmful code into the plagued system, the reinstall attempts will keep occurring in this case until the threat is properly eradicated from the Mac rather than from the web browser only.
Unlike regular Mac software, Chill Tab resists the standard uninstall and reapplies the unsolicited browser changes if you try to get rid of it this way. Moreover, it may conceal its files from the places users would normally peek into, such as the Activity Monitor, Applications, and the Extensions list in the web browser that’s acting up. Therefore, to remove Chill Tab from your Mac permanently, you should think outside the box. The full cleaning instructions are listed in the guide above. In a nutshell, here are the steps to follow:
- Find the malicious process (named “Chill-Tab” or random-looking entry) in the Activity Monitor and force-quit it.
- Go to /Library/LaunchAgents, ~Library/LaunchAgents, and ~Library/Application Support folders, look for the following items in there and drag them to the Trash if found:
- Go to Applications, spot Chill Tab (or other suspicious app that installed itself behind your back), and move it to the Trash.
- Empty the Trash.
- Go to the Login Items and minus out the Chill-Tab entry.
- Delete the Chill Tab extension in the browser (Safari, Chrome, or Firefox). If the removal option is grayed out, reset the browser to its original defaults.
- Restart your Mac.
Keep in mind that fixing the browser alone doesn’t address the issue. To ensure the right effect, you need to take your efforts further and eliminate the additional components of the offending program. In case the Chill Tab virus keeps coming back after this procedure has been applied, consider using an automatic security solution for Mac to detect and terminate the infection.
The entirety of Chill Tab’s persistence mechanisms have yet to be studied in depth. It’s known for a fact, though, that the infection meddles with the list of startup app and the user profiles on a contaminated Mac. This way, the malicious code is configured to run at boot time, and the newly added user account with administrator privileges reinstalls the culprit after the victim attempts to remove the unwanted app along with the rogue browser extension. Furthermore, the repeatedly enabled program tends to switch names so that the manual repair turns into a wicked “catch me if you can” game.