Remove AlphaExplorer (Mac Adware)

Another dubious web browser extension developed by cyber scammers is called AlphaExplorer. This search application appears risk-free at first glance. However, it has its own scheming ways to get inside the Mac computer even the user’s approval. Such behavior is one of the grounds why Mac security experts tagged this browser tool as an adware program that specifically sits under the hijacker category.

AlphaExplorer may add and run as an extension of Google Chrome or Safari. Adware authors made it compatible with the said browser applications. In most cases, AlphaExplorer is integrated with third-party software in order to discretely penetrate the Mac computer. The screenshot image below represents very well the scheming ways of adware makers. They bundle AlphaExplorer into the fake software update, which pretends as system alert. It lures the Mac users to install the software update, but will eventually load AlphaExplorer.

Screenshot of AlphaExplorer App

AlphaExplorer is a hijacker

As soon as AlphaExplorer is installed on the Mac device, it may start executing several malicious tasks. These include homepage hijacking, browser redirects, serving pop-ups, banners, other marketing materials, and collect information relating to the Internet surfing routine of Mac users.

When browser’s home page, new tab, and default search engine was replaced with unwanted settings, you may conclude that a browser hijacker is attacking the computer. Note that the primary function of this malware is to modify your browser settings, particularly the homepage and search provider..

Avoiding AlphaExplorer adware

Similar with ActionProvider and LuckyAdvantage, AlphaExplorer was also designed tricky. However, getting a piece of adware and other potentially unwanted application (PUA) can be avoided.

When adding an extension, plug-in, or add-on into the browser, it is important to be more cautious during the setup process. This is to make sure that there is no extra program included except for the preferred software. As mentioned, the adware program usually combines or hide along with third-party application. If by chance that AlphaExplorer is involuntarily installed on the Mac computer, you may eliminate it using the guide below.

Procedures to Remove AlphaExplorer from Mac

This area contains comprehensive procedures to help you remove adware and potentially unwanted program from the computer. Guide on this page are written in a manner that can be easily understand and execute by Mac users.

Quick Fix - Scan the Mac Computer with Combo Cleaner

Combo Cleaner is a trusted Mac utility application with complete antivirus and optimization features. It is useful in dealing with adware, malware, and PUP's. Moreover, it can get rid of adware like AlphaExplorer. You may need to purchase the full version if you want to maximize its premium features.

1. Download the tool from the following page:

2. Double-click the downloaded file and proceed with the installation.

3. In the opened window, drag and drop the Combo Cleaner icon onto your Applications folder icon.

Install Combo Cleaner

4. Open your Launchpad and click on the Combo Cleaner icon.

5. Wait until your antivirus downloads its latest virus definition updates.

6. Next, click on "Start Combo Scan" to start removing AlphaExplorer.

Combo Cleaner Scanner

7. Free features of Combo Cleaner include Disk Cleaner, Big Files finder, Duplicate files finder, and Uninstaller. To use antivirus and privacy scanner, users have to upgrade to a premium version.

Proceed with the rest of the removal steps if you are comfortable manually removing malicious objects associated with the threat.

Step 1 : Delete AlphaExplorer from Mac Applications

1. Go to Finder.

2. On the menu, click Go and then, select Applications from the list to open Applications Folder.

3. Find AlphaExplorer or any unwanted program and suspicious item. It may also disguise itself as a different file with random names.

Delete Unwanted App

4. Drag the suspicious file to the Trash Bin to delete the application from Mac.

5. Right-click on Trash icon and click on Empty Trash.

Step 2 : Remove Browser Extensions that belongs to AlphaExplorer

1. Locate the add-on or extension that is relevant to the adware. To do this, please follow the following depending on affected browser.

Safari - Choose Preferences from the Safari menu, then click the Extensions icon. This will open a window showing all installed extensions.

Chrome - Select Preferences from the Chrome menu, and then click the Extensions link found on the left pane.

Firefox - Choose Add-ons from the Menu. Look at both the Extensions and Plug-ins lists when it opens a new window.

2. Once you have located AlphaExplorer, click on Remove or Uninstall, to get rid of it.

3. Close the browser and proceed to the next steps.

Step 3 : Delete Malicious Files that have installed AlphaExplorer

1. Select and copy the string below to your Clipboard by pressing Command + C on your keyboard.

~/Library/LaunchAgents

2. Go to your Finder. From the menu bar please select Go > Go to Folder...

3. Press Command + V on your keyboard to paste the copied string. Press Return to go to the said folder.

Command + V

4. You will now see a folder named LaunchAgents. Take note of the following files inside the folder:

  • com.AlphaExplorer.plist
  • unknown.service.plist
  • unknown.system.plist
  • unknown.download.plist
  • unknown.update.plist

The term unknown is just a representation of the actual malware name. Attackers may use the following file names:

- Alpha Explorer App, (random characters).plist

If you cannot find the specified file, please look for any unfamiliar or suspicious entries. It may be the one causing AlphaExplorer to be present on your Mac. Arranging all items to see the most latest ones may also help you identify recently installed unfamiliar files. Please press Option + Command + 4 on your keyboard to arrange the application list in chronological order.

Option+Command+4

Important: Take note of all the suspicious files as you may also delete the same item on another folder as we go on.

5. Drag all suspicious files that you may find to Trash.

6. Please restart the computer.

7. Open another folder using the same method as above. Copy and Paste the following string to easily locate the folder.

~/Library/Application Support

8. Look for any suspicious items that are similar to the ones in Step 4. Drag them to the Trash.

9. Repeat the process on the following non-hidden folders (without ~):

/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons
/Library/Application Support

10. Lastly, go to your Finder and open the Applications Folder. Look for subfolders with the following names and drag them to Trash.

- Alpha Explorer App

Optional : For locked files that cannot be removed, do the following:

1. Go to Launchpad, Utilities folder, open Activity Monitor.

2. Select the process you want to quit.

Force Quit Apps

3. Click on Force Quit button.

4. You may now delete or remove locked files that belongs to AlphaExplorer adware.

Step 4 : Double-check with MBAM Tool for Mac

1. Download Malwarebytes Anti-malware for Mac from this link:

2. Run Malwarebytes Anti-malware for Mac. It will check for updates and download the most recent version if one is available. This is necessary for finding recent malware threats, including AlphaExplorer.

3. If it prompts to close all running web browser, please do so. Thus, we advise you to PRINT this guide for your reference before going offline.

4. Once it opens the user interface, please click on the Scan button to start scanning your Mac computer.

MBAM for Mac

5. After the scan, Malwarebytes Anti-malware for Mac will display a list of identified threats, and AlphaExplorer is surely part of it. Be sure to select all items in the list. Then, click the Remove button to clean the computer.

Step 5 : Remove AlphaExplorer from Homepage and Search

Safari

- Open your Safari browser.
- Go to the Safari Menu located in the upper left-hand corner, and then select Preferences.
- Under the General tab, navigate to the Default Search Engine section and select Google or any valid search engine.
- Next, be sure that the "New Windows Open With" field is set to Homepage.
- Lastly, remove AlphaExplorer from the Homepage field. Replace it with your preferred URL to be set as your default homepage.

Google Chrome

- Open the Google Chrome browser.
- Input the following on the address bar and press Enter on the keyboard : chrome://settings/
- Look for 'On Startup' area on the sidebar.
- Select 'Open a specific page or set of pages'.
- Choose the unwanted homepage, and click on Ellipses (three dots) and select Edit.
- Enter the desired web address as your homepage, replacing the AlphaExplorer setting. Click Save.
- To set the default search engine, go to the Search Engine area from the sidebar link.
- Click on 'Manage search engines...' button.
- Select the questionable Search Engine and click on Ellipses (three dots). ClickDelete. to remove it from the list.
- Go back to the Search Engine area and choose a valid entry (i.e., Google) from 'Search engine used in the address bar'.

Mozilla Firefox

- Run Mozilla Firefox browser.
- Type the following on the address bar and hit Enter on keyboard : about:preferences
- Click Home on the sidebar area.
- Under "New Windows and Tabs", you may choose Firefox Home (Default) or Custom URLs. - Input the desired URL to replace AlphaExplorer settings if you chose Custom URLs.
- To configure default search engine, select Search on the sidebar to display the settings.
- Under the Default Search Engine list, please select one (i.e., Google).
- On the same page, you have the option to Remove unwanted search engines.

Optional : If you are unable to change browser settings, execute these steps:

Some users complain that there is no way to change browser settings because they are grayed out by AlphaExplorer. In such a situation, it is important to check if there is an unwanted profile. Please do the following:

1. Quit any running applications and launch System Preferences from your Dock.

2. Under System Preferences, click Profiles.

3. Select AlphaExplorer or any relevant profile from the left pane. See the image below.

Remove Mac Profile

4. At the bottom of this window, click the minus [-] button to delete the account. Please refer to the image above.

5. Close the Profiles window and open the affected browser to change all settings associated with AlphaExplorer.

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