What Is FlexibleSearch?
FlexibleSearch is classified as a potentially unwanted application (PUA) and adware, and, according to the multiple VirusTotal detections, it also has trojan capabilities. FlexibleSearch is targeting macOS systems. Other similar potentially unwanted apps include FlexibleSector and FlexibleProtocol.
The emergence of such threats proves that scammers and cybercriminals continue to discover new ways to sneak into Mac computers. Their only purpose is to generate ad revenue and fill your system with even more adware. Even though not being literally a virus, users tend to call these programs viruses due to their annoying, threatening behavior.
Once a program such as FlexibleSearch sneaks into your Mac, it will be flooded with intrusive advertisements. The overall performance of both your browsers and operating system may be impacted. The longer this suspicious app runs on your Mac, the more vulnerable it becomes to more severe issues. The trojan capabilities also mean that your various personal details may be recorded and used in other malicious activities.
Considering the negative impact FlexibleSearch will cause to your macOS, you should consider removing it completely from it. Instructions to do so are available at the end of this article.
|Name||FlexibleSearch also known as MacOS:Agent-OZ [Trj], Trojan.MAC.Agent.KA, ADWARE/OSX.BHO.A, etc.|
|Short Description||A questionable application that hijacks Safari and Chrome browsers installed on macOS. Performs browser modifications without your knowledge. Generates annoying ads.|
|Symptoms||The homepage, new tab page and search engine in preferred web browser may be set to display a hoax search engine. Browser slowdowns may occur due to increased number of online ads. The program may start every time you start the affected Mac.|
|Distribution Method||Freeware Installations, Bundled Packages|
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Why Do I Have FlexibleSearch Installed on My Mac?
Being an application with a questionable origin, its developers tend to rely on shady methods to spread it across Macs.
The browser extension can be promoted via an official website. Usually, such official pages lack any sufficient information about the browser utility. The page may also ask you to leave your email address or other personal information, but doing so may compromise your privacy and therefore, it is not recommended. The page may also feature a download button. However, we advise against interacting with any of the content that the browser extension provides.
The adware may also be available for download on various third-party download pages. In addition, it may also be included in the installation packages of other applications. This method is known ad bundling and is described below.
Shortly said, apart from being promoted on its official site, there are two other distribution channels that may have caused the appearance of the ad-supported program in your system.
- Bundled installers
The most common method used by third-party developers to promote their shady products is bundling. Thanks to bundling, shady companies can promote potentially unwanted applications as additional downloads in freeware installers. These apps may not be malicious but they can be very irritating and difficult to remove. Furthermore, the longer an unwanted app is running on your system, the more vulnerable it becomes to other, more severe threats.
Note. Bundling is not illegal but it often causes unwanted, additional downloads, even of legitimate products. To avoid it from happening, you should be more careful during the installation steps of freeware applications.
- Interacting with suspicious content, fake pop-ups, online scams
If you tend to visit dubious websites, your browser may be flooded with ads promoting various shady products. If you are tricked by such an ad, you may end up downloading a product that you believe is useful. However, the program turns out to be ad-supported, or adware, as you start seeing various ads, banners, and pop-ups.
That being said, programs such as FlexibleSearch often have their own websites where they can be downloaded from. They can also be promoted on third-party download platforms. We advise you to be more vigilant when choosing your software. Research the program carefully prior to downloading it. Of course, this advice goes to programs that are not well-known and may turn out to be suspicious or even hacked.
If you have decided that you need to remove the extension from your system, them jump to the last paragraph which offers specific instructions.
How to Remove FlexibleSearch from Your macOS
In order to get rid of FlexibleSearch adware, along with all entries created on the system, you should complete several removal steps. The guide below gives you both manual and automatic removal methods. In order to fully get rid of files installed by undesired programs and improve your macOS security, we recommend that you combine the steps. The manual adware removal might be quite a complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. If you don’t feel comfortable with the manual steps, navigate to the automatic part of the guide.
Before starting to follow the steps below, be advised that you should first do the following preparations:
- Backup your files in case the worst happens.
- Make sure to have a device with these instructions on standy.
- Arm yourself with patience.
Step 1: Uninstall FlexibleSearch and remove related files and objects
1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:
- Go to Finder.
- In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
- Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
- If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.
In case you cannot remove FlexibleSearch via Step 1 above:
In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:
You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:
Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.
Step 2: Remove FlexibleSearch – related extensions from Safari / Chrome / Firefox
Step 3: Scan for and remove FlexibleSearch files from your Mac
When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts and programs such as FlexibleSearch, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. SpyHunter for Mac offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.
What is FlexibleSearch on your Mac?
The creators of such unwanted apps work with pay-per-click schemes to get your Mac to visit risky or different types of websites that may generate them funds. This is why they do not even care what types of websites show up on the ads. This makes their unwanted software indirectly risky for your MacOS.
Can my Mac get a virus?
Yes. As much as any other device, Apple computers do get viruses. Apple devices may not be a frequent target by malware authors, but rest assured that the following Apple devices can become infected with a virus:
- Mac Mini
- Macbook Air
- Macbook Pro
What are the symptoms of FlexibleSearch on your Mac?
There are several symptoms to look for when this particular threat and also most Mac threats in general are active:
Symptom #1: Your Mac may become slow and has poor performance in general.
Symtpom #2: You have toolbars, add-ons or extensions on your web browsers that you don't remember adding.
Symptom #3: You see all types of ads, like ad-supported search results, pop-ups and redirects to randomly appear.
Symptom #4: You see installed apps on your Mac running automatically and you do not remember installing them.
Symptom #5: You see suspicious processes running in your Mac's Activity Monitor.
If you see one or more of those symptoms, then security experts reccomend that you check your Mac for viruses.
What types of Mac threats are there?
According to most malware researchers and cyber-security experts, the threats that can currently infect your Mac can be the following types:
- Rogue Antivirus programs.
- Adware and hijackers.
- Trojan horses and other spyware.
- Ransomware and screen-lockers.
- Cryptocurrency miner malware.
What to do if I have a Mac virus, like FlexibleSearch?
Do not panic! You can easily get rid of most Mac threats by firstly isolating them and then removing them. One reccomended way to do that is by using a reputable malware removal software that can take care of the removal automatically for you. There are many Mac anti-malware apps out there that you can choose from. SpyHunter for Mac is one of the reccomended Mac anti-malware apps, that can scan for free and detect any viruses, tracking cookies and unwanted adware apps plus take care of them quickly. This saves time for manual removal that you would otherwise have to do.
How to secure my passwords and other data from FlexibleSearch?
With few simple actions. First and foremost, it is imperative that you follow these steps:
Step 1: Find a safe computer and connect it to another network, not the one that your Mac was infected in.
Step 2: Change all of your passwords, starting from your e-mail passwords.
Step 3: Enable two-factor authentication for protection of your important accounts.
Step 4: Call your bank to change your credit card details (secret code, etc.) if you have saved your credit card for online shopping or have done online activiites with your card.
Step 5: Make sure to call your ISP (Internet provider or carrier) and ask them to change your IP address.
Step 6: Change your Wi-Fi password.
Step 7: (Optional): Make sure to scan all of the devices connected to your network for viruses and repeat these steps for them if they are affected.
Step 8: Install anti-malware software with real-time protection on every device you have.
Step 9: Try not to download software from sites you know nothing about and stay away from low-reputation websites in general.
If you follow these reccomendations, your network and Apple devices will become significantly more safe against any threats or information invasive software and be virus free and protected in the future too.
More tips you can find on our website, where you can also ask any questions and comment about your Mac problems.