With the IdeaShared Mac adware wave gearing up for a rise, it’s important to know how the unwanted app affects computers and how to remove it for good.
Update: February 2020
If an app called IdeaShared (or IdeaShared 1.0) appears in a Mac machine’s Dock all of a sudden, this is a telltale sign of an adware attack that requires urgent countermeasures. Although this dubious software claims to add quality to one’s web browsing routine in general and online search activities in particular, most victims don’t even get a chance to familiarize themselves with these fictitious features. This is because the IdeaShared adware infiltrates Macs without the users’ permission. Whereas it mainly focuses on twisting one’s web browsing preferences to cause unwanted redirects and misrepresent website content, there is a broader scope of impact hidden in plain sight. The infection takes a growingly common route of affecting a host system at the level of admin privileges. The logic of this technique is to add a configuration profile in Users & Groups subsection of System Preferences, which allows the shady program to control a range of Mac settings and override the ones defined by the user.
This application uses a green icon with a white magnifying glass in it, which has become sort of a unique label of this quickly growing PUA family. When on board, the extension added by IdeaShared to Safari, Chrome or Firefox displays annoying popup alerts, injects unwanted ads into pages, and redirects the victim’s web traffic to phony search engines. In some scenarios, the pest may recurrently forward the browser to legit providers such as Yahoo or Bing, even if none of these is the user’s default choice. The infected user is also likely to encounter irritating notifications saying “Installation complete… The configuration process is done” that seem to pop up randomly in Safari and interrupt the Internet surfing sessions off and on. These dialogs contain an OK button which supposedly finishes the process the user never actually started. It turns out, this is a way for IdeaShared to cloak additional downloads of associated adware. This explains why people who fall victim to a single specimen from this particular PUA lineage end up discovering a few more knockoffs on their Macs down the road.
It’s worth emphasizing that the IdeaShared virus and its “cousins” mostly arrive in freeware bundles. It means Mac users unwittingly opt for the installation of the baddie which is cloaked underneath the “recommended”, or “express” setup mode. Therefore, exercising a bit of extra caution in such situations can thwart these adware attacks – most of the time, it suffices to pick the “custom” install option and then deselect the unwanted items that will be listed there. In case the dodgy app has slithered its way into your Mac, be advised that regular uninstall attempts are usually futile – the adware will shortly reappear under a different name. As previously mentioned, it creates a new device profile that underlies its persistence. The steps below will help eradicate it completely and revert to normal web browsing.
IdeaShared app 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 IdeaShared or another one that appears to be suspicious, 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. Locate IdeaShared (IdeaShared 1.0, IdeaShared.app) 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 box is started up. Find IdeaShared or other potentially unwanted app there and click on the “-“ button
Get rid of IdeaShared redirects and ads in web browser on Mac
To begin with, settings for the web browser that got hit by this 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, 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 IdeaShared virus using Combo Cleaner automatic removal tool
The Mac maintenance and security app called Combo Cleaner is a one-stop tool to detect and remove IdeaShared virus 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 IdeaShared virus 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 IdeaShared virus 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.
IdeaShared is one of numerous adware threats distributed under an easily identifiable “brand” – a round green app icon with an image of a magnifying glass inside. Its distribution is largely a matter of application bundles that conceal the infection and dump it onto a Mac under the guise of a harmless program installation.
Once on board, it parasitizes the victim’s default browser by adding an extension called IdeaShared 1.0 that gets extensive permissions without actually requesting them in a straightforward way. This entity is to blame for injecting ads into web pages and reorganizing the traffic via browser redirects that lead to junk sites or search engines the user is unwilling to visit. It is also known to download other malicious items in a furtive fashion.
While the activity of IdeaShared barely differs from that of dozens of its clones (including ForwardOpen, ForBrowser, MightyBrowser, DefaultProducts, CoordinatorPlus, PhaseSearch, and FocusProvide), it proved to be a more prolific and longstanding pest. First spotted in October 2019, this adware campaign is still up and running in 2020.
If this PUA hits a Mac computer, it should be immediately removed so that the attack surface doesn’t expand through extra infections dropped onto the system surreptitiously.
Applications that are executed by default when your Mac is starting up are known as Login Items. The list of these objects includes important system processes and programs that you want to be launched automatically every time you boot the system. All in all, this is a great way to customize your computing and save yourself the trouble of running most-used apps manually.
The shady side of the matter is that Login Items have recently become an element of adware attacks. A potentially unwanted application such as IdeaShared may mishandle this feature by configuring the compromised system to trigger the offending executable at boot time.
To remove unwanted default (login) items from your Mac, go to the Finder and select System Preferences. Go on to Users & Groups and click the Login Items tab. Select the entity you want to delete from your startup apps and click the minus icon (“-”) to stop it from automatically running when you log in.