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Remove Tempo Search virus in Chrome, Safari, Firefox from Mac

Macs are on the receiving end of a new browser hijack wave that persistently takes the web traffic to temposearch.com site without due permission.

The macOS area has been haunted by pesky threats that focus on subduing web browsers for years. The unsettling trend has spawned adware applications that hijack and forward users’ traffic to Bing, Yahoo Search, and dozens of knock-off search engines whose only purpose is to lace the schemes with malvertising APIs. As if the list of these nasties weren’t large enough, a new outbreak occurred in September 2021. This time around, the victims are forced to visit the temposearch.com page in a loop. In most cases, the landing site is adjusted to one’s locale, with users in the United States going to us.temposearch.com and the prepended string varying for other regions. The odd thing, though, is that there are numerous reports about people in different places around the world ending up on ru.temposearch.com, a Russian variant of the copycat search provider in question.

Tempo Search homepage looks misleadingly normal

The page gives a deceptive impression of commonness and doesn’t suggest any giveaways of its corrupt nature. It has a bright logo, a search box, and a few standard links to a “Contact us” page, a disclaimer, the Privacy Policy, and some extra elements everyone would expect to see in this sort of service. The only unusual thing is that it claims to combine results from across the search engine spectrum, including YouTube, Wikipedia, as well as the above-mentioned Yahoo and Bing. As is often the case with rogue resources, the purported bells and whistles are the tip of the iceberg, and the wicked part is deeper down. First off, the entries returned after typing any request are chock-full of ads that outnumber relevant links. Furthermore, Mac users are forcibly redirected to Tempo Search when trying to look up stuff on Google or another legitimate service.

A peculiar trait of this campaign is that the Google Chrome territory is affected the most. The reason is that the sleazeballs in charge of it are concentrated on polluting the Chrome Web Store with malicious extensions. They must have found a loophole in the tech giant’s security checks to upload myriads of their toxic helper objects to the immensely popular marketplace in one fell swoop. Another theory is that the crooks may have injected sketchy code into benign add-ons to repurpose them for the browser hijack wave. One way or another, Mac users catch this digital irritant after installing a decoy extension. A few examples are Volume Control Center, Image Downloader Plus, Web Paint, Page Ruler, and Smart Site Blocker.

Google search redirected to ads-riddled temposearch.com because of Mac malware

Besides causing the exasperating browser redirect activity, the Tempo Search Mac virus plays dirty in terms of data harvesting. Since its primary objective is to serve ads, it needs to generate a profile of every victim based on their location and Internet surfing patterns that speak volumes about the person’s interests and biases. To obtain these details, the app follows in the footsteps of other mainstream adware by monitoring the browsing history and search queries while fetching technical information such as the IP address and ISP name. Therefore, the attack extends its reach far beyond unauthorized traffic redistribution.

The persistence of Tempo Search is a serious obstacle to stopping the incursion in its tracks. The underlying program tends to add a Mac configuration profile where it specifies several parameters of the browser behavior as if these settings were hard-coded at a network administrator level. Additionally, the culprit sprays its files over the LaunchDaemons, LaunchAgents, and Application Support folders. Unless eliminated, these items keep sustaining the bad influence. The following techniques will help tidy up all the system locations where this parasite leaves its footprint so that the browser works the way it should.

Tempo 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 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 Tempo Search 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 Chrome 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 temposearch.com redirect in web browser on Mac

To begin with, the web browser settings taken over by the Tempo Search 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 temposearch.com 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 Tempo Search 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 temposearch.com 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 Tempo Search malware using Combo Cleaner removal tool

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