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How to remove PhaseSearch Mac virus

Explore the risks related to the Phase Search Mac virus and get a step-by-step removal guidance to stop its interference with normal web browsing activities.

A scenario of being infected with Mac adware is not for the faint-hearted. The present-day threats fitting the mold of this dubious software type are not only annoying but they are also extremely persistent. Plus, there is more to their impact than an unauthorized display of ads proper. These pests have become multifunctional over time and additionally hijack the victims’ browsers, track their online activities, and install follow-up infections behind the scenes. The potentially unwanted application (PUA) called Phase Search is an aggregate of all these hostile characteristics. Also known as PhaseSearch 1.0, it typically sneaks its way into a Mac computer and distorts the prey’s Internet surfing practices without requesting any sort of approval. This trespass results in an immediate influx of ads in the admin’s default browser, and it additionally entails random redirects to rogue websites.

Phase Search is part of an adware family represented by numerous lookalikes

Although the Phase Search virus attack may seem entirely furtive at first sight, the user’s vigilance influences whether or not this compromise gets through. The infection is propagating by means of a long-standing hoax with software bundles at its pivot. In a nutshell, this technique involves fishy application installers that may actually streamline the process of getting new freeware and completing its preliminary customization. This, however, is the tip of the iceberg. The side show is about one or several samples of harmful code being pushed as a secondary payload. As a result, the user may be sure that they are installing an awesome new program with a zero price tag, but in the meanwhile Phase Search covertly slithers into the host as well. Moreover, the unwelcome app automatically gets all the permissions its operators want – most people never have a chance to peruse what they are opting into anyway.

Few users realize it, but the average adware, including Phase Search, is sort of an abstract entity unless viewed in the context of specific components it creates inside a host environment and is backed by. In the situation under scrutiny, one of these elements is an application manifested in the appropriate macOS interface and in the Dock. It has a green icon with an image of a magnifying glass in it – something all the apps from this adware family have in common. Another fragment of the threat is an extension surreptitiously added to Safari, Chrome, and Firefox on the plagued computer. The goal of this add-on is to show sponsored materials during the user’s web browsing and to tweak the main online preferences, namely the homepage, new tab page, and search provider of choice.

Ads by Phase Search range from freebies and coupons to annoying interstitial popups and in-text links that may occupy a considerable parts of any visited website. These objects tend to appear in quantities that keep the affected web browser from functioning properly. This holds true especially for transitional full-page advertisements that, technically, sprinkle multiple browser windows in the background and thereby become a major memory hog. In order to generate commercial content that accurately reflects the victim’s interests, the Phase Search virus monitors the search history and also logs every site the person goes to. It additionally collects such details as the macOS version, hardware configuration, and the user’s IP address (hence their location and ISP name). Obviously, this guile doesn’t get along with privacy.

The browser preferences modification plight caused by this pest, in its turn, leads to the onset of an unbearable loop of redirects. The victim will be bound to repeatedly hit junk sites, including fake search providers, poor-quality ecommerce services, and outright dangerous pages promoting more malware via social engineering scams. When attempting to re-customize a malfunctioning browser, those infected often discover that such an option is disabled. Fortunately, the fix is feasible as long as you follow the right cleaning steps. The procedure below proved to address the issue.

Phase Search 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

    Open up the Utilities

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

    Locate the Activity Monitor

  3. Under Activity Monitor,find a process named PhaseSearch (Phase Search), 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 Phase Search (PhaseSearch 1.0) entry on the interface, right-click on it and select Move to Trash. If user password is required, go ahead and enter it

    Malicious app icon under Applications

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

    Pick the System Preferences

  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 Phase Search (PhaseSearch) or other potentially unwanted app there and click on the “-“ button

Get rid of Phase Search ads and redirects 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:

  1. Reset Safari
    • Open the browser and go to Safari menu. Select Preferences in the drop-down list

      Go to Preferences in Safari

    • 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

      Remove All Website Data option under Privacy

    • 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

      Confirmation dialog

    • 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

      Clear data for specific websites in Safari

    • 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.
  2. 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

      Reset settings in Chrome on Mac

    • 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. Reset Mozilla Firefox
    • Open Firefox and select HelpTroubleshooting Information
    • On the page that opened, click the Reset Firefox button

      Reset Firefox

Get rid of Phase Search virus using Combo Cleaner removal tool

The Mac maintenance and security app called Combo Cleaner is a one-stop tool to detect and remove Phase Search 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 Phase Search 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 an update of the 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.

    Combo Cleaner Mac scan progress

  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).

    Combo Cleaner scan report – no threats found

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

    Combo Cleaner – threats found

  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.

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