If web browsers on your Mac are being redirected to Bing, it’s a sign of virus activity that requires fixing and reverting Internet settings to their defaults.
Update: March 2020
|Name||Bing redirect virus|
|Threat Category||Mac browser hijacker, Mac adware|
|Related Domains||Searchbaron.com, searchmarquis.com|
|Symptoms||Redirects web searches to Bing via intermediate sites (ad networks), injects ads into search results, slows down the system|
|Distribution Techniques||Freeware bundles, torrents, fake software updates, misleading popup ads, spam|
|Damage||Privacy issues due to Internet activity tracking, search redirects, unauthorized modification of browsing preferences, unwanted ads|
|Removal||Scan your Mac with Combo Cleaner to detect all files related to the browser hijacker. Use the tool to remove the infection if found.|
Custom browsing settings are among the fundamentals of user-friendly Internet navigation. Ideally, you define the preferences once and enjoy the seamless online experience further on. Cybercriminals, though, have got a twisted perspective in this regard. Some of their troublemaking contrivances bypass the admin permission stage and modify the most important defaults in web browsers installed on a contaminated host. That’s exactly what the Bing redirect virus does to a Mac. It reroutes all searches entered by the victim to bing.com. In other words, every time you try to look up a keyword or phrase via, say, Google or Yahoo!, a stealth script is invoked that changes the destination page to Bing search results.
The Mac users who are confronted with this brain-twisting scenario can’t seem to revert to the right configuration by commonplace means. Getting to the custom settings pane in Safari, Chrome or Firefox and typing the preferred engine’s URL – or selecting the desired provider on the list – turns out to be a no-go. At least, the “repair” won't stay in effect beyond the next browser startup event. The explanation for this is trivial. The Bing redirect virus continues to run in the background and will be altering the preset in an iterative fashion. Therefore, it’s not until you spot the culprit and obliterate it that the problem will be solved. Speaking of the e-perpetrators’ motivation, it’s entirely a matter of traffic monetization. They leverage the infection to obtain and maintain control of the victim’s browsing routine. By partnering with merchants and advertisers, the virus authors benefit from every unique page hit. The shady business model may boil down to pay per visit, pay per click – you name it.
This rerouting problem has nothing to do with an informed decision on the victim’s end. The malicious app usually slithers into a Mac alongside ostensibly legit software. This is what’s called bundling, a method that results in installing several programs under the guise of one. Some users have reported the Bing redirect virus starting to cause problems after they installed and activated the Microsoft Office suite. Some start encountering these issues after falling victim to the fake Adobe Flash Player update hoax. In the latter case, a rogue “Your Flash Player is out of date” popup appears on a malicious website or one compromised by malefactors. By applying the malware-riddled update, the user unwittingly opts for Bing as their default search provider. Additionally, there has been some feedback about the redirect culprit infiltrating Macs alongside a fake system optimizer like Mac Cleanup Pro or another one from the same lineage.
Another frequently reported stratagem has to do with Search Baron, a fishy service that bundles with harmless-looking software and pretends to improve one’s web search experience. Instead of following through with its claims, though, this malicious app changes a victim’s Internet navigation preferences with a rogue landing page at searchbaron.com without due permission. As a result, a regular web search instance will be returning the unwanted site first, and from there the traffic will automatically travel to Bing. The user’s only role in this hoax is to watch this merry-go-round of redirects taking place over and over, and to forget about personalization of the browsing routine until a fix is applied.
An increasingly common source of the Bing.com redirect issue is a lineage of adware applications arriving at Macs as seemingly useful browser enhancement tools bundled with other software. All of them share a few “branding” hallmarks such as the icon design featuring a magnifying glass symbol as well as the 1.0 version number that may follow the corresponding browser extension’s name. A few examples are EnterDiscovery, CrowdExclusive, and IdeaShared apps. In addition to browser redirects, another annoying after-effect of this attack comes down to ads injection across the websites the victim goes to. To ensure that the redundant sponsored content matches the infected user’s interests, the adware collects personally identifiable information (PII), including the browsing history and search queries.
It’s noteworthy that, although the core applications in these setup clients vary, all of these occurrences have one common denominator. They are downloaded from fishy dubious websites promoting uncertified or cracked versions of popular utilities. The attack may also be backed by a clickbait campaign or other form of malvertising surreptitiously injected into legit sites. Furthermore, it’s quite likely that the actual name of the adware is Genieo – that’s a notorious malvertising entity wreaking havoc in the Mac world for years.
The key point regarding the Bing redirect virus is that the issue won’t vanish on its own. No browser update or regular manual reconfiguring will take care of the infection. The persistence factor plays a primary role in this obstruction as the unruly application piggybacks on a peculiar trick involving a rogue configuration profile. This is a growingly popular mechanism used by modern adware to thwart easy removal. Its logic is to create a dodgy device profile under System Preferences on a Mac. This artifact is intended to impose specific twisted settings such as web browsing defaults the victim didn’t opt for. Moreover, it keeps the user from changing their preferences back to their correct values by means of the established procedures everyone is familiar with. Under the circumstances, the only viable countermeasure is to get rid of the malicious code proper, reset the affected browsers to their original state and then adjust them to your likes again. The how-to’s below cover all of these steps in detail.
Bing redirect 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 Genieo or some other that appears suspicious, 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 Genieo on the interface or some other one that clearly doesn’t belong there, 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 computer is started up. Locate Genieo or other potentially unwanted app there and click on the “-“ button
Get rid of Bing redirect virus in web browser on Mac
To begin with, settings for the web browser that got hit by the Bing redirect virus should be restored to their default values. The overview of steps for this procedure is as follows:
- Remove Bing virus from 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
- Remove Bing.com redirect from 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
- When on the Settings pane, select Advanced
- Scroll down to the Reset settings section. Under the Restore settings to their original defaults option, click the Reset settings button
- 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.
- Remove Bing redirect virus from Mozilla Firefox
- Open Firefox and select Help – Troubleshooting Information
- On the page that opened, click the Reset Firefox button
Get rid of Bing redirect virus Mac using Combo Cleaner removal tool
The Mac maintenance and security app called Combo Cleaner is a one-stop tool to detect and remove Bing redirect virus. This technique has substantial benefits over manual cleanup, because the utility gets hourly virus definition updates and can accurately spot even the newest Mac infections.
Furthermore, the automatic solution will find the core files of the malware deep down the system structure, which might otherwise be a challenge to locate. Here’s a walkthrough to sort out the Bing redirect issue using Combo Cleaner:
- Download Combo Cleaner installer . When done, double-click the combocleaner.dmg file and follow the prompts to install the tool onto your Mac.
- Open the app from your Launchpad and let it run the update of malware signature database to make sure it can identify the latest threats.
- Click the Start Combo Scan button to check your Mac for malicious activity as well as performance issues.
- Examine the scan results. If the report says “No Threats”, then you are on the right track with the manual cleaning and can safely proceed to tidy up the web browser that may continue to act up due to the after-effects of the malware attack (see instructions above).
- In case Combo Cleaner has detected malicious code, click the Remove Selected Items button and have the utility remove Bing redirect threat along with any other viruses, PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), or junk files that don’t belong on your Mac.
- Once you have made doubly sure that the malicious app is uninstalled, the browser-level troubleshooting might still be on your to-do list. If your preferred browser is affected, resort to the previous section of this tutorial to revert to hassle-free web surfing.
It depends on whether Bing was set as the default search engine with or without your consent. If the tweak doesn’t stem from an informed decision on your end, then you are dealing with a virus that bypassed regular authorization when putting the unwanted changes into effect.
In case this isn’t a malware issue, simply go to your browser’s preferences, proceed to the search settings, and pick the right search provider on the list. For instance, in Safari you need to open the Preferences screen, then click the Search tab, and opt for Google in the ‘Search engine’ area. This way, Bing will be automatically deselected. The procedure is similar for the other popular web browsers.
The fix isn’t nearly as easy if malicious code is involved. The Bing redirect virus will prevent you from changing the default search engine via the commonplace technique. The search providers may be grayed out and not clickable. In this scenario, you’ll need to remove the harmful app before reverting to Google manually. Try to turn off all the extensions in the malfunctioning browser for a start. If this doesn’t do the trick, follow the virus cleanup walkthrough in the article above.
To begin with, this is a telltale sign of malware activity. Your Mac has been most likely infected with a strain that changes the custom web surfing settings without your awareness and approval. The distorted configuration of your browser makes the Internet traffic travel through a merry-go-round of intermediary URLs, with Bing.com being the landing page. The transitional domains may include searchbaron.com and low-quality ad networks. Bing is, essentially, a smokescreen that adds a false sense of legitimacy to the attack. The malware operators benefit from the interim hits to auxiliary services that aren’t easy to notice with the naked eye.
The root cause of this search engine takeover is malicious code that spreads in a surreptitious way. The common entry points span application bundling and drive-by downloads triggered on compromised or harmful websites. Once inside a Mac, the toxic code alters the search settings in Safari, Chrome or Firefox (depending on which one is set as default) so that the Internet navigation follows a rogue route and keeps resolving Bing in a recurrent fashion.
A rule of thumb is to eliminate the underlying cause of the hijack first. Otherwise, the issue will re-emerge no matter how hard you may try to restore the right browsing preferences. Keep in mind that this is a malware issue, so it needs to be sorted out accordingly.
Manual troubleshooting is a good starting point that’s definitely worth a shot. Look for suspicious entries in the Activity Monitor, Applications, and Login Items as outlined in the appropriate section of the tutorial above. If you find sketchy items that clearly don’t belong there, go ahead and delete them. Then, reset the affected web browser using the step-by-step guide provided in the article.
In some cases, the hijack may turn out too severe to be remedied manually. If so, consider opting for a procedure based on the use of an automated cleaning utility. The tool will detect and delete both the non-obfuscated and hidden components of the Bing redirect virus so that you can safely rectify the mutilated browsing settings without malicious interference.
This technique of resetting your MacBook Air to its factory state should only be applied in a persistent Bing redirect scenario where all the other fixes end up futile. Be advised, though, that you need to back up all your personal data first otherwise you’ll lose it for good. Thankfully, macOS is equipped with the Time Machine utility that allows you to back up all the files to an external storage device without using any third-party apps. The procedure is as follows:
- Plug the backup disk into your Mac
- Open Time Machine and click Select Backup Disk
- Pick the external drive you’d like to back up your MacBook Air to
- Enable the Encrypt backups option for extra security, click Use Disk, and wait for the backup to be completed.
To perform the reset proper, boot up your MacBook Air in Recovery Mode. This is doable by long-pressing Command + R keys when your computer is starting up or restarting. Release the buttons once you see the Apple logo and wait for the macOS Utilities window to appear. Here’s what you need to do next:
- Select Disk Utility in the macOS Utilities screen and click Continue
- Go to View and select Show All Devices
- Choose your hard disk and click Erase
- If you are using macOS High Sierra or later, select APFS in the Format area. Otherwise, select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system
- Click Erase again.
Now that your hard disk has been wiped, you need to reinstall the operating system. Follow these steps to do it:
- In the macOS Utilities screen, select Reinstall macOS
- Click Continue
- Follow subsequent prompts to complete the reinstall.
Once you start fresh with your MacBook Air, you can import your data from the backup disk and customize the system along with the software you use.
When faced with the Bing redirect virus issue on MacBook Pro, you may experience sluggish system performance – occasionally to a point where the laptop becomes hardly responsive or even freezes. If this happens, you may need to force-restart the machine. Here’s a quick overview of the possible scenarios and the appropriate ways to reboot.
- If macOS appears to be frozen but you can still use your mouse, point the cursor to the Apple icon in the upper left-hand part of the screen, click it and select the Restart option in the drop-down menu.
- In case you are using a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and the system isn’t responding altogether, you should long-press the Touch ID button (which is also the Power button, by the way) until the laptop restarts. Importantly, it’s not a matter of simply placing your finger on the sensor like you routinely do to log in – you actually need to push it and wait for the reboot to take place.
- One more method is to press and hold a combo of the Command (⌘) and Control (Ctrl) keys while also pushing the Touch ID button. If you are using an older MacBook Pro that has an optical drive, press Command (⌘) and Control (Ctrl) and the Eject button simultaneously.
That’s it. As soon as you have restarted your MacBook Pro, get down to the virus cleaning job to ensure proper performance of the laptop further on.