Learn how to remove SearchMine malware from Mac and thereby prevent Safari, Chrome and Firefox from being redirected to searchmine.net rogue site.
Update: February 2020
|Name||SearchMine (SearchMine.net) browser hijacker|
|Category||Mac browser hijacker, redirect virus, Mac adware|
|Related domains||Searchmine.net, Opti-page.com|
|Detection||Avast: MacOS:Agent-EN [Drp], BitDefender: Adware.MAC.Bundlore.DMM, Emsisoft: Adware.MAC.Bundlore.DMM (B), F-Secure: Adware.ADWARE/OSX.Bnodlero, McAfee: RDN/Generic.osx|
|Symptoms||Redirects web browser to SearchMine.net, adds sponsored content to search results, causes system slowdown, resists regular removal|
|Distribution Techniques||Fake Adobe Flash Player update popups, freeware bundles, spam|
|Damage||Unwanted changes of custom browsing settings, privacy issues due to Internet activity tracking, search redirects, redundant ads|
|Removal||Scan your Mac with Freshmac to detect all files related to the browser hijacker. Use the tool to remove the infection if found.|
When it comes to one’s online experience, it’s hard to think of a greater nuisance than a browser hijack that gives the web preferences an overhaul without the victim’s consent. The issue is big regardless of the operating system and it has been that way for years, but the macOS territory is currently a rapidly expanding battlefield in this regard. What does it mean to be hit by a piece of browser-twisting malware such as SearchMine? The most conspicuous impact is all about redirects. The culprit keeps on forwarding an ambushed Mac user’s Internet traffic to its landing page at searchmine.net. This activity isn’t haphazard, though, as it follows a fairly strict pattern. The victim’s default browser – be it Safari, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox – undergoes unauthorized manipulation resulting in the custom settings being replaced with a new value.
This attack has one more revolting facet that makes the pest a moving target. Let’s say Chrome on a Mac is being redirected to searchmine.net. In addition to tweaking the browser preferences, the malware sets a Chrome enterprise policy that overrides the admin’s settings and disallows changes that the victim may attempt to make in a regular way. In the upshot, the browser forwarding loop is there to stay until the sketchy policy is removed. A telltale symptom of this tampering is that the homepage, new tab, and default search provider settings may become irresponsive and grayed out to keep the infected person from remediating them by hand. To add insult to injury, the pest may add a rogue device profile called AdminPrefs, Safari Settings or Chrome Settings to enforce one more layer of persistence. The enterprise policy trick and interference at the level of system preferences make SearchMine a really stubborn malware that requires the victims to think outside the box.
The landing page, searchmine.net, might appear to fit the mold of a garden-variety search provider. It contains a keyword entry bar and a few links underneath it that lead to popular services, namely Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and AliExpress. However, this ostensible mundanity turns out to conceal a serious pitfall. If you input an arbitrary query, the site will return opti-page.com which, in turn, displays questionably accurate results that may forward you to other malicious web pages with virus downloads lurking on them. In many cases, the landing pages are valid Yahoo Search results but the route towards this ostensibly safe destination is riddled with dubious URLs and controversial advertising networks.
As far as the distribution of the SearchMine Mac virus goes, everything fits the mold of a commonplace adware campaign. The ne’er-do-wells chose to stick with the old school bundling mechanism to deposit the nasty payload onto systems. The installer for this malicious item constitutes fishy setup clients that are allegedly intended to make the process of installing some nifty software seamless. The worst part is that the hoax hides in plain sight, being part of the “express” setup option that most people never deselect. This covertness, paired with numerous Mac users’ affinity with freebies, such as apps available on unofficial sources, explains why the malware under scrutiny is increasingly prolific.
Yet another infection vector engages what’s called “malvertising”. This stratagem involves misleading popup ads shown online that say Adobe Flash Player is out of date. If the unsuspecting user decides to apply the purported update, though, the SearchMine malware will be installed instead. To top it off, there might be a potentially unwanted follow-up application in this package, such as a Mac Cleanup Pro fake system utility that leverages a scare tactic to hoodwink people into buying its license. Another commonly reported pest that may accompany this browser hijacker is Media Downloader, a known adware program that claims to allow users to download streaming videos but ends up inundating web pages with annoying ads.
As if these cross-promoted entities weren’t enough to diminish the user experience, the virus-riddled Flash Player bundle often also includes MyCouponsmart adware. This dubious app injects redundant ads into the visited websites while pretending to be a tool that delivers a better e-shopping experience. A recap of this shady distribution is as follows: SearchMine virus hardly ever arrives at Macs on its own. If it’s in, then it makes sense looking for and deleting more threats that probably infiltrated the system as well. Here’s one more thing to consider: the victims are so baffled by the conspicuous aftermath of this attack that they fail to notice a more subtle, yet unnerving, side effect. Both the adware in question and the accompanying threats get their privileges on a Mac computer escalated to such an extent that there is no obstacle for them to collect sensitive online data. The private information at risk includes browsing history, web searches, and even keystrokes made to sign into personal accounts. Although eclipsed by the super-annoying browser redirects, this activity can entail serious privacy encroachment issues down the road.
No matter how exactly the redirect virus in question has made its way into a Mac, it is undoubtedly subject to removal otherwise the web browsing routine will continue to be a mess. The part below is a one-stop walkthrough to get rid of SearchMine malware.
SearchMine 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 a process named SearchMine or Search Mine, 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 SearchMine (Search Mine) entry 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 computer is started up. Locate a device profile called AdminPrefs, Safari Settings or Chrome Settings there, select it, there and click on the “-“ button
Get rid of searchmine.net redirect virus in web browser on Mac
To begin with, settings for the web browser that got hit by SearchMine 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, click the More (⁝) 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.
- Reset Mozilla Firefox
- Open Firefox and select Help – Troubleshooting Information
- On the page that opened, click the Reset Firefox button
Get rid of SearchMine malware using Freshmac removal tool
When confronted with malicious code like the searchmine.net redirect virus on Mac, you can neutralize its toxic impact by leveraging a specially crafted system utility. The Freshmac application (read review) is a perfect match for this purpose as it delivers essential security features along with must-have modules for Mac optimization.
This tool cleans unneeded applications and persistent malware in one click. It also protects your privacy by eliminating tracking cookies, frees up disk space, and manages startup apps to decrease boot time. On top of that, it boasts 24/7 tech support. The following steps will walk you through automatic removal of the SearchMine infection from Mac.
- Download Freshmac installer onto your machine. Double-click the Freshmac.pkg file to trigger the installer window, select the destination disk and click Continue. The system will display a dialog asking for your password to authorize the setup. Type the password and click Install Software
- Once the installation has been completed, Freshmac will automatically start a scan consisting of 5 steps. It scans cache, logs, unused languages, trash, and checks the Mac for privacy issues.
- The scan report will then display your current system health status and the number of issues detected for each of the above categories. Click the Fix Safely button to remove junk files and address privacy issues spotted during the scan.
- Check whether the searchmine.net redirect problem has been fixed. If it perseveres, go to the Uninstaller option on Freshmac GUI. Locate an entry that appears suspicious, select it and click Fix Safely button to force-uninstall the unwanted application.
- Go to Temp and Startup Apps panes on the interface and have all redundant or suspicious items eliminated as well. The SearchMine redirect virus shouldn’t be causing any further trouble.
SearchMine is a dodgy web service camouflaged as a typical search engine. It is considered to be a browser hijacker for a number of reasons. First off, it changes a victim’s browsing preferences without their consent and adds an enterprise policy in Google Chrome to complicate the process of reverting to the correct settings. Another vector of establishing persistence on a Mac revolves around a new device profile being created under System Preferences.
Furthermore, the SearchMine app is installed beyond the victim’s awareness, constituting toxic bundles cloaked by freeware installers. One of these techniques involves phony Adobe Flash Player updates pushed on hacked or malicious websites. On top of that, the infection is usually promoted alongside adware programs and pseudo optimizers, such as Mac Cleanup Pro.
Regarding the search engine resemblance of searchmine.net, it is an illusion because the site will simply redirect all searches to another shady provider, opti-page.com. On the whole, the service in question is neither useful nor safe, therefore you should definitely steer clear of it.
As mentioned in the article above, the SearchMine virus affects Chrome to a somewhat bigger extent than the other popular web browsers. It tends to set a new Chrome enterprise policy that disables the option of uninstalling the malicious extension by regular means. In this scenario, you may repeatedly get notifications saying that Chrome is “managed by your organization”. This is a hurdle you must get around before applying any fixes. In addition to that, the harmful application may set Chrome as your default browser without asking.
Under the circumstances, you may want to switch to another web browser unaffected by the hijacker or allowing for easier troubleshooting. Fortunately, this isn’t complicated. Here’s what you need to do:
- Click the ‘Apple’ icon in the upper left-hand part of the screen
- Select ‘Preferences’ in the drop-down menu
- Click the ‘General’ tab
- Find the ‘Default web browser’ setting and click it to expand the list
- Select Safari or other browser you prefer to use
- Exit the ‘Preferences’ screen.
That’s it – your default web browser has been changed.
Simply re-entering the correct Internet preferences is not enough to prevent a browser from being redirected to Searchmine.net. The reason is prosaic: you are dealing with a virus rather than a misconfiguration glitch. Obviously, to get rid of Searchmine.net for good you need to address the security issue first.
Start with a virus hunt. In other words, you should scrutinize your installed apps, Login Items, and browser extensions for an object that got there behind your back. Make sure you delete all suspicious entries you manage to find. This part of the repair can be done manually or through the use of an automatic removal tool, the latter option being more effective and preferable if you aren’t very tech-savvy.
It’s not until the infection has been completely eliminated that you can customize your web browser so that it returns the right sites when you perform web search. In some cases, it may be necessary to reset the browser to its original state and then define the appropriate defaults.