Another dangerous browser extension that is attacking internet browser application is called UniversalWebSearch. This kind of adware was made to work harmoniously with prominent internet navigation software like Google Chrome, Safari, and Mozilla Firefox.
UniversalWebSearch is an adware that is compatible to Mac system. It pretends as useful search engine that enhances online search and browsing experience of Mac users. In reality, UniversalWebSearch is nothing but a malicious browser extension that will make use of compromised browser application as moneymaking machine through continuous display of advertisements during Mac users browsing session.
Aside from adware classification, UniversalWebSearch is also in the category of potentially unwanted application (PUA). It executes unsolicited installation and after it dominates internet browser program, the adware unleashes a combination of redirects and hijacking actions as part of its attack scheme. Again, the motive of this attack is to generate online profit by pointing the infected browser program to partner’s website. Developers of UniversalWebSearch make this internet traffic referral scheme as supplementary way to elevate their online revenue.
The most common method that attackers are utilizing to reach and infect Mac users globally is called software bundling. In this deceitful scheme, UniversalWebSearch perfectly blends with freeware like creativity suite, games, media player, download manager, and fake software update as shown in the image below. The adware hides with the free software from downloading through installation process and the technique is very successful in installing bunch of adware onto Mac computers without getting caught.
Like most adware, UniversalWebSearch follows a series of infection, which is the normal from this kind of threat. It starts with the domination of browser program by injecting codes and scripts followed by taking over of vital pages like homepage and new tab window. UniversalWebSearch never circumvent the invasion of search tool, which is probably the focal point of the entire attack. From this moment, every user’s online search is diverted to servers assigned by UniversalWebSearch, allowing the attackers to extract data from this activity.
To conclude, UniversalWebSearch is a bad program for the browser that cause risk to browser program and user’s privacy. Removal of this threat is recommended to restore the internet software to its normal and safe working state. Complete guide to get rid of UniversalWebSearch adware is presented on this page along with effective anti-virus and anti-malware tools.
Procedures to Remove UniversalWebSearch 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.
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 adware like UniversalWebSearch. 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 it's latest virus definition updates and click on "Start Combo Scan" to start removing UniversalWebSearch.
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 UniversalWebSearch
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 Plugins lists when it opens a new window.
2. Once you have located UniversalWebSearch, 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 UniversalWebSearch
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:
If you cannot find the specified file, please look for any unfamiliar or suspicious entries. It may be the one causing UniversalWebSearch 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.
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 UniversalWebSearch 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 UniversalWebSearch.
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, UniversalWebSearch 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 UniversalWebSearch 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 UniversalWebSearch 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 UniversalWebSearch. 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 UniversalWebSearch 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 UniversalWebSearch. 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 UniversalWebSearch 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 UniversalWebSearch.