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Remove Search Symphony virus (searchsymphony.com) from Safari, Chrome, Firefox on Mac

Macs are on the receiving end of a new browser hijacking conspiracy that causes unwanted redirects to searchsymphony.com in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.

Threat Profile
Name Search Symphony Mac browser hijacker
Category Browser hijacker, redirect virus, Mac adware
IP 151.139.128.10, 13.32.255.71, 204.11.56.48
Related Domains searchsymphony.com, qsearch.pw
Symptoms Redirects Safari, Chrome, and Firefox to searchsymphony.com, adds sponsored content to search results, causes system slowdown
Distribution Freeware bundles, torrents, booby-trapped software updates, misleading popup ads, 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.

What is the Search Symphony redirect virus?

Another malware genie is out of the bottle, wreaking a good deal of havoc in the Mac world. The villain is referred to as Search Symphony, as it redirects a victim’s default web browser to the searchsymphony.com page without consent. The euphonious name, though, is at odds with the sharp-elbowed tactics of this malicious application. Once inside a Mac, it revamps the key Internet surfing preferences, including the user-specified homepage, new tab, and web search page, to make sure all online activities on the plagued machine fit the context of a filthy traffic monetization scheme. In the end, the crooks in charge of this campaign make money at the expense of victims’ peace of mind.

Searchsymphony.com Safari redirect process

The Search Symphony virus is mostly distributed in the classic adware-style way. Its payload accompanies bundles of harmless freeware apps that don’t arouse suspicion. The express installation mode, which is what most people keep unaltered, pushes through all the components of the dubious pack, including the browser redirect threat. The lesson to be learned from this stratagem is that the “recommended” setup option is always potentially risky, and so it’s much wiser to pick the custom method that allows deselecting undesirable items. One more entry point involves misleading popup ads shown on compromised websites, in which case the promoted app or software update turns out to be malware in disguise.

As soon as the baddie infiltrates a host environment through this trickery, it redefines the default settings in Safari, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox so that searchsymphony.com is visited in a loop. To spice these shenanigans with a persistence flavor, Search Symphony tends to install a configuration profile that mimics a typical enterprise policy enforcement. This tactic makes it much harder to revert to normal online activities, because it imposes adverse changes at the administrator level. When all set to do its thing, the virus manages the Internet surfing facet of Mac usage and deprives the victim of the prerogative to decide what sites to visit and when.

Malicious device profile installed by Search Symphony Mac virus

Although the browser redirecting scheme is the most conspicuous symptom of the attack, it is the tip of the iceberg. A few more wicked things happen behind the curtain. The underlying code quietly collects personally identifiable data such as Internet history and system information, including the macOS version, the list of installed apps, IP address, hardware specifications, and geolocation. The masters of the Search Symphony virus obtain these details via a covert connection established between the contaminated Mac and their C2 servers.

It’s noteworthy that this predicament often co-occurs with similar exploitation that involves QSearch.pw, a browser hijacker with years of negative track record in the Apple threat landscape. Compared to its long-running satellite, the Search Symphony virus is relatively new, but the common origin of the two means that the harmful program in question is mature in terms of its modus operandi. The good news is that best-practice Mac malware cleaning techniques can stop the foul play in its tracks. Keep reading to learn how.

SearchSymphony.com 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 specified order.

  1. Expand the Go menu in your Mac’s Finder bar and select Utilities as shown below.

    Go to Utilities

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

    Select the Activity Monitor

  3. In the Activity Monitor app, look for a process that appears suspicious. To narrow down your search, focus on unfamiliar resource-intensive entries on the list. Keep in mind that its name isn’t necessarily related to the way the threat is manifesting itself, so you’ll need to trust your own judgement. If you pinpoint the culprit, select it and click on the Stop icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.

    Stop malicious process

  4. When a follow-up dialog pops up asking if you are sure you want to quit the troublemaking process, select the Force Quit option.

    Select the Force Quit option

  5. Click on the Go menu icon in the Finder again and select Go to Folder. You can as well use the Command-Shift-G keyboard shortcut.

    Use the Go to Folder feature

  6. Type /Library/LaunchAgents in the folder search dialog and click on the Go button.

    Open /Library/LaunchAgents folder

  7. Examine the contents of the LaunchAgents folder for dubious-looking items. Be advised that the names of files spawned by malware may give no clear clues that they are malicious, so you should look for recently added entities that appear to deviate from the norm.

    As an illustration, here are several examples of LaunchAgents related to mainstream Mac infections: com.pcv.hlpramc.plist, com.updater.mcy.plist, com.avickUpd.plist, and com.msp.agent.plist. If you spot files that don’t belong on the list, go ahead and drag them to the Trash.

    Root-level LaunchAgents folder contents

  8. Use the Go to Folder lookup feature again to navigate to the folder named ~/Library/Application Support (note the tilde symbol prepended to the path).

    Open ~/Library/Application Support folder

  9. When the Application Support directory is opened, identify recently generated suspicious folders in it and send them to the Trash. A quick tip is to look for items whose names have nothing to do with Apple products or apps you knowingly installed. A few examples of known-malicious folder names are UtilityParze, ProgressSite, and IdeaShared.

    Application Support folder contents

  10. Enter ~/Library/LaunchAgents string (don’t forget to include the tilde character) in the Go to Folder search area.

    Open ~/Library/LaunchAgents directory

  11. The system will display LaunchAgents residing in the current user’s Home directory. Look for dodgy items related to Search Symphony redirect virus (see logic highlighted in subsections above) and drag the suspects to the Trash.

    Contents of LaunchAgents folder in user’s home directory

  12. Type /Library/LaunchDaemons in the Go to Folder search field.

    Go to /Library/LaunchDaemons

  13. In the LaunchDaemons path, try to pinpoint the files the malware is using for persistence. Several examples of such items cropped by Mac infections are com.pplauncher.plist, com.startup.plist, and com.ExpertModuleSearchDaemon.plist. Delete the sketchy files immediately.

    LaunchDaemons folder contents

  14. Click on the Go menu icon in your Mac’s Finder and select Applications on the list.

    Go to Applications screen on Mac

  15. Find the entry for an app that clearly doesn’t belong there and move it to the Trash. If this action requires your admin password for confirmation, go ahead and enter it.

    Drag malicious app to the Trash

  16. Expand the Apple menu and select System Preferences.

    Select System Preferences

    Open System Preferences

  17. Proceed to Users & Groups and click on the Login Items tab.

    Proceed to Users & Groups

    The system will display the list of items launched when the computer is starting up. Locate the potentially unwanted app there and click on the “-” (minus) button.

    Delete unwanted login item

  18. Now select Profiles under System Preferences. Look for a malicious item in the left-hand sidebar. Several examples of configuration profiles created by Mac adware include TechSignalSearch, MainSearchPlatform, AdminPrefs, and Safari Settings. Select the offending entity and click on the minus sign at the bottom to eliminate it.

    Select Profiles under System Preferences

    Remove malicious configuration profile from Mac

    If your Mac has been infiltrated by adware, the infection will most likely continue to hold sway over your default web browser even after you remove the underlying application along with its components sprinkled around the system. Use the browser cleanup instructions below to address the remaining consequences of this attack.

Get rid of searchsymphony.com redirect in web browser on Mac

To begin with, the web browser settings taken over by the Search Symphony 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 Search Symphony virus from 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, click on the Advanced tab and enable the option saying “Show Develop menu in menu bar”.

      Advanced tab under Safari Preferences

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

      Empty Caches in Safari

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

      Clear history in Safari

    • 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.

      Select all history to clear

    • 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.

      Manage Website Data option under Privacy tab

    • 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.

      Confirmation dialog

    • Restart Safari
  2. Remove Search Symphony 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

      Chrome Settings

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

      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.

      Here’s how to reset settings in Chrome on Mac

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

      Open Firefox and go to Help

      Select Troubleshooting Information

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

      Refresh Firefox on Mac

    • Confirm the intended changes and restart Firefox.

Get rid of Search Symphony malware using Combo Cleaner removal tool

The Mac maintenance and security app called Combo Cleaner is a one-stop tool to detect and remove Search Symphony 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 Search Symphony 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.

    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 Search Symphony 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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