What Is LeadingExplorerSearch?
LeadingExplorerSearch is a malicious form of adware from the AdLoad family of Mac threats. It can be installed unknowingly when downloading free software or visiting untrusted websites. Once on your Mac, LeadingExplorerSearch may display unwanted advertisements, redirect the user to malicious websites, install additional adware or spyware, and even cause the computer to run slower or crash.
To avoid infection, it is important to only download software from trusted sources and to not click on any suspicious pop-up windows, such as fake Adobe Flash player updates.
What Is AdLoad?
Adload is a type of Trojan that can open a backdoor on an infected system and install adware and PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) without the user’s knowledge. AdLoad is an entire family of Mac threats with new variants such as LeadingExplorerSearch constantly being released in the wild.
|Name||LeadingExplorerSearch a.k.a. Trojan.Adload|
|Type||Adware / Potentially Unwanted Application|
|Short Description||A program that delivers lots of annoying advertisements in browsers it affects.|
|Symptoms||Browser slowdowns could occur due to increased number of ads generated by the adware. Sensitive detials could be obtained by unknown actors.|
|Distribution Method||Software bundles; Corrupted installers; Deceptive web pages|
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Malware Removal Tool
How Did I Get LeadingExplorerSearch Installed on My Mac?
RadianceChecked can get installed on your Mac in a variety of ways. Such programs are typically bundled with freeware or shareware applications, hidden in the installation process. It can also be installed via malicious webpages or links that redirect you to a malicious site. Additionally, it can spread through emails, attachments, and other online sources.
Most of these distribution mechanisms aim to trick you into installing the program without considering the side effects. For the purpose of achieving this goal, bundled software installers are used as well as fake software updates delivered over compromised web pages. An example of a fake update scheme widely adopted by AdLoad variants is the Adobe Flash Player is out of date browser scam. Other similar, recently detected applications that also belong to AdLoad include IdentityStack and MomentTech.
What Does LeadingExplorerSearch Do?
Being an adware program, LeadingExplorerSearch is primarily designed to show as much online advertisements as possible. Once started on your Mac, the adware could initiate several modifications of browser settings that will enable the generation of vast number of questionable advertisements. The program may be set to affect the settings of all commonly used web browsers including Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari.
These ads could pose a serious risk to your Mac. On one hand, they could make your browser sluggish which in turn could diminish significantly your browsing experience. On the other hand, some of them could be set to land you on poorly secured web pages compromised by hackers.
Another issue that may occur while RadianceChecked is running on your device is data harvesting. With the help of various tracking technologies, the program could attempt to obtain sensitive data from your affected browsers and then send it to its servers. If you want to prevent this adware program from displaying annoying ads and collecting sensitive data of yours, you need to remove all associated files from affected browsers and system as soon as possible.
Is LeadingExplorerSearch a Computer Virus?
LeadingExplorerSearch is not a traditional computer virus, as it does not replicate itself and modify other programs to insert its own code. However, it still poses a threat to your online security due to its adware and potentially unwanted program behavior, as well as its backdoor capabilities. Therefore, it is important to remove LeadingExplorerSearch from your Mac in order to protect your online security.
Is LeadingExplorerSearch Dangerous?
LeadingExplorerSearch can be considered a dangerous program due to its persistent nature and the issues it can cause on a Mac. It is known to install a persistence agent in the Library LaunchAgents folder, making it difficult to remove completely. As such, a specific technical approach is required to completely eliminate the adware from the machine.
How to Protect My Mac from LeadingExplorerSearch?
As annoying a PUP or adware can be, its installation can be avoided easily by building user vigilance. Here are a few easy steps you can take to avoid installing PUPs and becoming a victim of unwanted programs such as LeadingExplorerSearch:
- Don’t download programs from Internet ads, pop-ups, torrent trackers, file sharing sites and other unreliable sources.
- Opt-out of the setting hidden in the “Custom” or “Advanced” sections when you’re installing a program. You can deselect most PUPs from there.
- Avoid installing programs you don’t need.
- Keep an eye out for any excessive or unusual Internet advertising. These ads can be brought on by PUPs and adware attached to your browser.
- Read the terms and conditions of use when you install any programs.
- Check your installed software regularly and uninstall any applications you do not want or need.
- Install an anti-malware program that also has the ability to detect and remove potentially unwanted programs.
Remove LeadingExplorerSearch from Your Mac
In order to remove the LeadingExplorerSearch Mac “virus” and all associated files from your Mac, you should complete all the steps listed in the removal that follows. It presents both manual and automatic removal instructions that combined could help you to secure your device and keep it safe from future attacks. In case that you have further questions or need additional help, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below the article.
Steps to Prepare Before Removal:
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 LeadingExplorerSearch 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:
2. Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:
3. In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to LeadingExplorerSearch:
4. Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.
5. In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to LeadingExplorerSearch. If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.
6. Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference. Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to LeadingExplorerSearch. Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.
7. Remove any leftover files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:
- 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 LeadingExplorerSearch 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:
1. Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:
2. Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:
3. Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as LeadingExplorerSearch. If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.
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 LeadingExplorerSearch – related extensions from Safari / Chrome / Firefox
Step 3: Scan for and remove LeadingExplorerSearch files from your Mac
When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts and programs such as LeadingExplorerSearch, 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.
Quick and Easy Mac Malware Video Removal Guide
Bonus Step: How to Make Your Mac Run Faster?
Mac machines maintain probably the fastest operating system out there. Still, Macs do become slow and sluggish sometimes. The video guide below examines all of the possible problems that may lead to your Mac being slower than usual as well as all of the steps that can help you to speed up your Mac.
What is LeadingExplorerSearch 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 LeadingExplorerSearch 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 LeadingExplorerSearch?
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 LeadingExplorerSearch?
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 MacOS Virus section, where you can also ask any questions and comment about your Mac problems.
About the LeadingExplorerSearch Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this LeadingExplorerSearch how-to removal guide included, is the outcome of extensive research, hard work and our team’s devotion to help you remove the specific macOS issue.
How did we conduct the research on LeadingExplorerSearch?
Please note that our research is based on an independent investigation. We are in contact with independent security researchers, thanks to which we receive daily updates on the latest malware definitions, including the various types of Mac threats, especially adware and potentially unwanted apps (PUAs).
Furthermore, the research behind the LeadingExplorerSearch threat is backed with VirusTotal.
To better understand the threat posed by Mac malware, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.
1. macOS More Susceptible to Adware and PUPs than Windows
2. XLoader Malware-as-a-Service Now Available for macOS for Only $49
3. XCSSET Mac Malware Targets Apple’s M1-Based Macs and macOS 11
4. macOS Backdoor Malware Linked to OceanLotus Hackers
5. The State of Apple’s Privacy So Far in 2021