CharacterVirtualSearch Mac adware (virus) - Free Guide

CharacterVirtualSearch Mac adware Removal Guide

What is CharacterVirtualSearch Mac adware?

CharacterVirtualSearch Mac adware can evade Apple's security system XProtect

CharacterVirtualSearchCharacterVirtualSearch can enter your device without your knowledge

CharacterVirtualSearch is a potentially unwanted program that has adware[1] and hijacking capabilities. It is developed to target Mac machines specifically and belongs to the Adload adware family. It is much more aggressive than adware that infects Windows computers. It can change the browser settings, cause pop-up ads, redirect to malicious websites, and install other PUPs, malware[2] without the users' knowledge.

There is still a misconception that Mac devices do not get infected by viruses. The truth is, fraudsters are constantly developing new methods to infiltrate operating systems.[3] They have become so smart that they can even bypass Apple's security system XProtect.[4] All they had to do was just remove a single strand of code. Then they can use various social engineering techniques to get users to download the mac virus without even realizing it.

People notice that something is wrong when the malicious program has already started working and making changes. If users go to explore, they can find it in the Applications folder. All the Adload viruses have an icon with a magnifying glass in a green or teal round background. We have previously written about ExpandedActivity, SearchPrimaryData, UpgradedPlatform and you can see that visually they look identical.

NAME CharacterVirtualSearch
TYPE Adware; mac virus; browser hijacker
MALWARE FAMILY Adload
SYMPTOMS Homepage, new tab address, and search engine changed; advertisements displayed on the screen; redirects to shady websites; worse machine performance
DISTRIBUTION Fake Flash Player updates, deceptive ads, torrent sites
DANGERS Altered search results and pop-up ads can lead to dangerous websites promoting scams; the virus can automatically install other PUPs or even malware without the users' knowledge
ELIMINATION Eliminating this mac virus manually can be complicated; We suggest deploying a professional security tool to scan your system and delete every file
FURTHER STEPS ReimageIntego should be used to completely wipe out any data left and fix the remaining damage

The purpose of such applications is to generate revenue from your clicks. The program can show pop-up ads, banners and cause redirects that pay the developers a small fee. When you think that they can infect thousands of computers, pennies add up and become a substantial amount of money. Crooks can release new programs over and over again building their passive income stream.

Distribution techniques

Since these shady individuals are motivated to make money, you should be motivated to keep your system safe and learn about various Adload infiltration methods. The most common method that has been used for many years to spread adware is fake Flash Player updates and installers. They appear if users are browsing through websites that are using unsafe advertising networks. They may open when users are using illegal streaming platforms or other websites that are considered suspicious.

CharacterVirtualSearch Mac adwareCharacterVirtualSearch targets mac machines with fake Flash Player updates

Users are made to believe that they need Flash Player in order to view content. However, that is not true. Flash Player was discontinued in 2020 and replaced by new technology – HTML5 which is already embedded in websites so users do not need any additional programs to be able to watch videos or play web-based games. Many people still do not know that Flash Player does not exist anymore and crooks rely on that to make this scheme work.

Another way users could have infected themselves with CharacterVirtualSearch Mac adware is by using torrent sites and peer-to-peer file-sharing platforms to download software “cracks.”[5] Even though it can get costly, it is best to get legitimate programs because it is the safest. Users can also choose from thousands of apps on the Apple store that is free. Applications that get listed, go through a lengthy review process and are very safe to use so users might miss out on more sophisticated software, but save money in the long run without having a damaged operating system.

Some might then turn to freeware distribution sites but they are also more dangerous than users think. They can include additional programs in the installers without clearly disclosing it on the site. Many people find the installation process boring and just skip through the steps so they do not notice the bundled software.

If you want to avoid that, make sure to always choose the “Custom” or “Advanced” installation method. Read the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use to find out what the program will be able to do on your machine and what data it will collect. The most important part that you should definitely not skip, is to go through the list of files up for installation. If you see any additional programs, untick the boxes next to their names.

Remove CharacterVirtualSearch

You should not do this yourself unless you know what you are doing and what kind of .plist files you need to delete. This is because most of the preference .plist files will just reset the preference of the application. To keep your mind at peace, we recommend using professional anti-malware tools SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes, which can detect unwanted programs and eradicate them completely. If you still want to try and delete it manually, follow the steps:

  • Open Applications folder
  • Select Utilities
  • Double-click Activity Monitor
  • Here, look for suspicious processes related to adware and use Force Quit command to shut them down
  • Go back to the Applications folder
  • Find CharacterVirtualSearch in the list and move it to Trash.

If you are unable to shut down the related processes or can't move the app to Trash, you should look for malicious profiles and login items:

  • Go to Preferences and select Accounts
  • Click Login items and delete everything suspicious
  • Next, pick System Preferences > Users & Groups
  • Find Profiles and remove unwanted profiles from the list.

There are likely to be more .plist files hiding in the following locations – delete them all:

  • Select Go > Go to Folder.
  • Enter /Library/Application Support and click Go or press Enter.
  • In the Application Support folder, look for any dubious entries and then delete them.
  • Now enter /Library/LaunchAgents and /Library/LaunchDaemons folders the same way and terminate all the related .plist files.Uninstall from Mac 2

The manual elimination process might not always result in full virus removal. Therefore, we still strongly suggest you perform a scan with security software.

Fixing the hijacked browser

It is possible that CharacterVirtualSearch also collects browsing-related and sensitive information. Various scripts might be sending data to tracking servers. Some of the data that could be exposed is your IP address, user name, macOS and browsers' versions, an ID of the computer, items in the Applications folder, a list of installed agents, daemons, and system configuration profiles.

CharacterVirtualSearch adware also employs an unwelcome browser add-on which messes with the settings. After the dangerous files are eliminated from your system, you should take care of your browsers. You can get rid of cookies and cache automatically with the help of ReimageIntego. Doing it manually is also an option, but it might take some time if you use several browsers. If you are using Safari, you should proceed with the following steps:

  1. Click Safari > Preferences…
  2. In the new window, pick Extensions.
  3. Select the unwanted extension and select Uninstall.Remove extensions from Safari

Cookies and website data:

  1. Click Safari > Clear History…
  2. From the drop-down menu under Clear, pick all history.
  3. Confirm with Clear History.Clear cookies and website data from Safari

The simplest and quickest solution to this is completely resetting Safari:

  • Click Safari > Preferences…
  • Go to Advanced tab.
  • Tick the Show Develop menu in menu bar.
  • From the menu bar, click Develop, and then select Empty Caches.Reset Safari

Step-by-step instructions for other browsers you can find at the bottom of this article.

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to fix virus damage using Reimage Intego, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage Intego has a free limited scanner. Reimage Intego offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage, try running SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.

Getting rid of CharacterVirtualSearch Mac adware. Follow these steps

ChromeFirefox

Remove from Google Chrome

Delete malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

  1. Open Google Chrome, click on the Menu (three vertical dots at the top-right corner) and select More tools > Extensions.
  2. In the newly opened window, you will see all the installed extensions. Uninstall all the suspicious plugins that might be related to the unwanted program by clicking Remove. Remove extensions from Chrome

Clear cache and web data from Chrome:

  1. Click on Menu and pick Settings.
  2. Under Privacy and security, select Clear browsing data.
  3. Select Browsing history, Cookies and other site data, as well as Cached images and files.
  4. Click Clear data. Clear cache and web data from Chrome

Change your homepage:

  1. Click menu and choose Settings.
  2. Look for a suspicious site in the On startup section.
  3. Click on Open a specific or set of pages and click on three dots to find the Remove option.

Reset Google Chrome:

If the previous methods did not help you, reset Google Chrome to eliminate all the unwanted components:

  1. Click on Menu and select Settings.
  2. In the Settings, scroll down and click Advanced.
  3. Scroll down and locate Reset and clean up section.
  4. Now click Restore settings to their original defaults.
  5. Confirm with Reset settings. Reset Chrome 2
ChromeFirefox

Remove from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

Remove dangerous extensions:

  1. Open Mozilla Firefox browser and click on the Menu (three horizontal lines at the top-right of the window).
  2. Select Add-ons.
  3. In here, select unwanted plugin and click Remove. Remove extensions from Firefox

Reset the homepage:

  1. Click three horizontal lines at the top right corner to open the menu.
  2. Choose Options.
  3. Under Home options, enter your preferred site that will open every time you newly open the Mozilla Firefox.

Clear cookies and site data:

  1. Click Menu and pick Options.
  2. Go to Privacy & Security section.
  3. Scroll down to locate Cookies and Site Data.
  4. Click on Clear Data…
  5. Select Cookies and Site Data, as well as Cached Web Content and press Clear. Clear cookies and site data from Firefox

Reset Mozilla Firefox

If clearing the browser as explained above did not help, reset Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Open Mozilla Firefox browser and click the Menu.
  2. Go to Help and then choose Troubleshooting Information. Reset Firefox 1
  3. Under Give Firefox a tune up section, click on Refresh Firefox…
  4. Once the pop-up shows up, confirm the action by pressing on Refresh Firefox. Reset Firefox 2

How to prevent from getting adware

Stream videos without limitations, no matter where you are

There are multiple parties that could find out almost anything about you by checking your online activity. While this is highly unlikely, advertisers and tech companies are constantly tracking you online. The first step to privacy should be a secure browser that focuses on tracker reduction to a minimum.

Even if you employ a secure browser, you will not be able to access websites that are restricted due to local government laws or other reasons. In other words, you may not be able to stream Disney+ or US-based Netflix in some countries. To bypass these restrictions, you can employ a powerful Private Internet Access VPN, which provides dedicated servers for torrenting and streaming, not slowing you down in the process.

Data backups are important – recover your lost files

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats to personal data. Once it is executed on a machine, it launches a sophisticated encryption algorithm that locks all your files, although it does not destroy them. The most common misconception is that anti-malware software can return files to their previous states. This is not true, however, and data remains locked after the malicious payload is deleted.

While regular data backups are the only secure method to recover your files after a ransomware attack, tools such as Data Recovery Pro can also be effective and restore at least some of your lost data.

About the author
Jake Doevan
Jake Doevan - Computer technology expert

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