How to Remove Cultsearch.pw (Mac)

By | Posted on March 7, 2019 |

Most browser hijackers operates discretely that even security guarded Mac system cannot prevent. One example of such intrusive homepage redirect adware is Cultsearch.pw. Like most malware from this class, Cultsearch.pw invades a computer via software bundles masquerading as freeware or shareware apps. Unfortunately, there are scores of websites hosting these questionable applications and numbers are still growing each day because of cyber criminal’s objective of elevating quantity of victims.

The growth and widespread operation by Cultsearch.pw may annoy loads of Mac users hence this means great opportunity for attackers to increase online profit through software endorsements and advertising campaign. Homepage of Cultsearch.pw obviously reflects its association to infamous MacKeeper program and the page actually endorses it via text link ‘Clean Your Mac’. Other suspicious sites with similar principles are Saferqueries.com, Rack-search.com, Mytab.club, and many more from the same family.

The damage this browser hijacker can inflict on the browser is not only limited to overwriting homepage with Cultsearch.pw. Utilizing the search function clearly redirects user’s inquiry to a private web server prior to revealing the search outcome via Yahoo Search. This forwarding of internet traffic occurs outside of victim’s knowledge. Moreover, users are unaware that via this redirect scheme, attackers are aiming to collect online data like search keywords, geographical location, and other logical information.

Cultsearch.pw

Apart from online privacy issues, Cultsearch.pw may cause the infected computer to download marketed malicious software when it triggers the browser redirect to force internet application in visiting random websites that employs drop-by-download script. In this case, user’s intervention or approval is not necessarily needed to download and install malware on the computer. The script automates the process and even hides it from the view of supposed-to-be victims.

Procedures below are published as a way to help victims deal with this threat in easiest way possible. Remove Cultsearch.pw by executing the guide in exact order and use only valid anti-malware tool as suggested.

Procedures to Remove Cultsearch.pw from Mac

This section contains comprehensive guide to help you remove malicious browser hijacker from internet application.

Procedures on this page are written in a manner that can be easily understand and execute by Mac users.

Step 1 : Quick Fix - Scan the System 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 malicious browser hijacker like Cultsearch.pw. You may need to purchase full version if you require to maximize its premium features.

1. Download the tool from the following page:

Click here to Download Combo Cleaner (this will open a new window)

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.

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

5. Wait until antivirus downloads it's latest virus definition updates and click on "Start Combo Scan" to start removing Cultsearch.pw.

Start Combo Scan

6. 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 in manually removing malicious objects associated with the threat.

Step 2 : Remove Browser Extensions that belongs to Cultsearch.pw

1. Locate the add-on or extension that is relevant to the hijacker. 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 Plugins lists when it opens a new window.

2. Once you have located Cultsearch.pw, 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 Cultsearch.pw

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:

  • unknown.download.plist
  • unknown.ltvbit.plist
  • unknown.update.plist
  • com.unknown

The term unknown is just a representation of the actual malware name. It is normally an unfamiliar file name such as the following:

- CleanYourMac, MacKeeper

If you cannot find the specified file, please look for any unfamiliar or suspicious entries. It may be the one causing Cultsearch.pw 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
/Library/Preferences

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 Locked Files

3. Click on Force Quit button.

4. You may now delete or remove locked files that belongs to Cultsearch.pw homepage hijacker.

Step 4 : Double-check with MBAM Tool for Mac

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

Click here to download MBAM for Mac (this will open a new window)

2. Run Malwarebytes Anti-malware for Mac. It will check for updates and download if most recent version is available. This is necessary in finding recent malware threats including Cultsearch.pw.

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 Scan button to start scanning your Mac computer.

Malwarebytes Anti-malware for Mac

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

Step 5 : Remove Cultsearch.pw from Homepage and Search

Safari

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

Google Chrome

- Open Chrome browser.
- Type the following on the address bar and press Enter on keyboard : chrome://settings/
- Look for 'On Startup' area.
- Select 'Open a specific page or set of pages'.
- Click on More Actions and select Edit.
- Enter the desired web address as your home page, replacing Cultsearch.pw. Click Save.
- To set default search engine, go to Search Engine area.
- Click on 'Manage search engines...' button.
- Go to questionable Search Engine. Click on More Actions and Click 'Remove from list'.
- Go back to Search Engine area and choose valid entry 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
- On Startup area, select 'Show your home page' under 'When Firefox starts' field.
- Under Home Page field, type the desired URL to replace Cultsearch.pw settings.
- To configure default search engine, select Search on left sidebar to display settings.
- Under Default Search Engine list, please select one.
- On the same page, you have an option to Remove unwanted search engine.

Step 6 : Delete Cultsearch.pw Login Items

Some browser hijacker may also install login item into compromised account under System Preferences. This object automatically runs Cultsearch.pw during user log in.

1. Go to Apple menu and choose System Preferences.

2. Select Users & Groups from the preferences window.

3. You may need to Unlock this area in order to make changes. Click on the Lock icon on lower left corner of the window.

4. Next, select user account that runs Cultsearch.pw.

5. Click on Login Items tab.

6. Select Cultsearch.pw or any suspicious entries from the list and click on the minus [-] button and confirm your actions. Please see image below for reference.

Login Items

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

Some user complains that there is no way to change browser settings because it is grayed out by Cultsearch.pw. In such situation, it is important to check if there is 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 Cultsearch.pw or any relevant profile from the left pane. See image below.

Remove Profile

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

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

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