Browser redirects and pop-ups are normally caused by adware infection that is interfering with the internet browser program. The adware is also the culprit for making the homepage to open up on an unwanted web address and search engine. One adware that possess the said attack mechanism is called PortalAgent. Mac operating system is the primary target of PortalAgent and it can be installed on internet browser application like Safari, Google Chrome, or Firefox even without permission from user.
How PortalAgent infects Mac computers?
Cyber crooks who owns PortalAgent adware have several ways to productively infect Mac computers and all are set off via the internet. Probably, the most effective way to dispose PortalAgent is through malicious advertisements that suddenly pop-ups on the browser when visiting sites that are involve in media streaming, cracked software, file download, and similar servers. The pop-ups usually simulate system alerts and states that critical software update is needed to avoid conflicts on the computer. Hence, the content of the executable file is actually the carrier of PortalAgent, which was designed to load the adware onto browser application with full secrecy. See sample image of fake online software update below.
Other means to spread PortalAgent is known to be the same way that propagates computer viruses like web injection method, drive-by-download technique, or spam email messages. Having said that, it is likely quite easy to prevent PortalAgent infection by avoiding suspicious sites such as the ones already mentioned.
Risks of installing PortalAgent app
PortalAgent infection is the common root of browser issues like excessive display of advertisements, pop-ups, redirects, and internet software freezing when the adware consumes too much bandwidth and system resources. As a result, internet software ends up crashing and may remain unusable at times. Aside from these visible symptoms, PortalAgent adware is the root for privacy theft because this threat was designed to record sensitive information from internet browser application. It can log search keywords, favorite sites, username, passwords, and so on. In fact, Mac computer may display a warning that “PortalAgent may damage your computer,” which denotes the hazards of installing the app.
The only way to reinstate safety and security on the browser is the complete removal of PortalAgent. For this reason, the next section is dedicated to procedures on getting rid of the threat for good.
Procedures to Remove PortalAgent 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 PortalAgent. You may need to purchase full version if you require 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.
4. Open your Launchpad and click on the Combo Cleaner icon.
5. Wait until antivirus downloads its latest virus definition updates and click on "Start Combo Scan" to start removing PortalAgent.
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 1 : Delete PortalAgent 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 PortalAgent or any unwanted program or suspicious item. It could be in disguise as a different file.
4. Drag PortalAgent to 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 PortalAgent
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 PortalAgent, 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 PortalAgent
1. Select and copy the string below to your Clipboard by pressing Command + C on your keyboard.
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.
4. You will now see a folder named LaunchAgents. Take note of the following files inside the folder:
The term unknown is just a representation of the actual malware name. Attackers may masks the actual name with following:
- PortalAgent Deamon
If you cannot find the specified file, please look for any unfamiliar or suspicious entries. It may be the one causing PortalAgent 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.
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.
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 ~):
10. Lastly, go to your Finder and open the Applications Folder. Look for subfolders with the following names and drag them to Trash.
- PortalAgent Deamon
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.
3. Click on Force Quit button.
4. You may now delete or remove locked files that belongs to PortalAgent 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 if most recent version is available. This is necessary in finding recent malware threats including PortalAgent.
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.
5. After the scan, Malwarebytes Anti-malware for Mac will display a list of identified threats, PortalAgent 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 PortalAgent from Homepage and Search
- 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 PortalAgent from the Homepage field. Replace it with your preferred URL to be set as your default homepage.
- 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 PortalAgent. 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.
- 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 PortalAgent 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.
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 PortalAgent. 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 PortalAgent or any relevant profile from the left pane. See image below.
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 PortalAgent.