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How to remove SearchMine virus from Safari, Chrome, Firefox on Mac

How to remove SearchMine virus from Safari, Chrome, Firefox on Mac


Learn how to remove SearchMine malware from Mac and thereby prevent Safari, Chrome and Firefox from being redirected to searchmine.net rogue site.

Update: April 2020

Threat Profile
Name SearchMine (SearchMine.net) browser hijacker
Category Mac browser hijacker, redirect virus, Mac adware
Related domains Searchmine.net, Opti-page.com, Webcrawler.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
Severity Level Medium
Damage Unwanted changes of custom browsing settings, privacy issues due to Internet activity tracking, search redirects, redundant 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.

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. Each try will be accompanied by a message saying that the browser is “Managed by your organization”, when it’s actually not. Incidentally, group policies are an indispensable instrument in the toolkit of enterprise network administrators. They allow an organization to specify browser settings and restrictions so that employees don’t download potentially harmful files or visit sites they aren’t supposed to. This adjustment of system behavior isn’t only the prerogative of admins, but it’s also doable by third-party software. Obviously, SearchMine operators have found a way to repurpose enterprise policies for persistence of their malicious application.

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 or webcrawler.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. For instance, the rogue web resources frequently observed in the browser’s status bar during the redirect are different knockoffs of the a-akamaihd.net domain, which is part of a cloud and content delivery service heavily mishandled by Mac adware makers.

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.

One of the key lessons to learn from the distribution practices employed by SearchMine virus authors is that application bundles are a potential source of malware infections, especially if they look too good to be true or if their promotion is laced with an element of pressure and urgency. Avoiding security issues in such scenarios is a matter of taking a deeper dive into the installer’s structure beyond the default mode so that the extra apps are revealed and can be unchecked. Additionally, Mac users should finally start ignoring popups that tout those fake Flash Player updates on dubious websites. 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.

  1. Open up the Utilities folder as shown below

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

  3. Under Activity Monitor, find a process named SearchMine or Search Mine, select it and click Quit Process
  4. A dialog should pop up, asking if you are sure you would like to quit the troublemaking process. Select the Force Quit option
  5. 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

  6. Now go to Apple Menu and pick the System Preferences option

  7. 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 virus in web browser on Mac

To begin with, the web browser settings taken over by the SearchMine 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 SearchMine virus from Safari
    • Open the browser and go to Safari menu. Select Preferences in the drop-down list

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

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

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Restart Safari
  2. Remove SearchMine 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

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

    • 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.

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

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

    • Confirm the intended changes and restart Firefox.

Get rid of SearchMine malware using Combo Cleaner removal tool

The Mac maintenance and security app called Combo Cleaner is a one-stop tool to detect and remove SearchMine 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 SearchMine issue using Combo Cleaner:

  1. Download Combo Cleaner installer. When done, double-click the combocleaner.dmg file and follow the prompts to install the tool onto your Mac.

    Download Combo Cleaner

    By downloading any applications recommended on this website you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. The free scanner checks whether your Mac is infected. To get rid of malware, you need to purchase the Premium version of Combo Cleaner.

  2. 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.
  3. Click the Start Combo Scan button to check your Mac for malicious activity as well as performance issues.

  4. 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).

  5. In case Combo Cleaner has detected malicious code, click the Remove Selected Items button and have the utility remove SearchMine threat along with any other viruses, PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), or junk files that don’t belong on your Mac.

  6. 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.

FAQ

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