Imagine this: you open your favorite browser to do a bit of research but instead of seeing Google (or your default homepage), you see a different web page the moment the browser loads. And when you try to search for something on the internet, the search results presented are from a different search engine. This is a common occurrence for internet users these days. All these happen when a browser hijacker infects the user’s computer.
Browser hijacker, well, hijacks your web traffic and sends it to the websites that are paying for it. The main goal of browser hijackers is to send traffic to its partner or advertiser’s websites through redirections, intrusive ads, and changing the browser’s default settings.
One of the most popular browser hijackers is SearchMine.net. Basically, the browser redirects to Searchmine.net, a bogus website that looks like a search engine, with the logo using the word Search in Google’s colors. When you see your browser get redirected to this website, then your device has definitely been infected.
Browser hijackers, like SearchMine.net, are not inherently dangerous. At most, they can be annoyingly persistent that no matter how many times you try to reset your browser, it just keeps coming back to the SearchMine.net website. This guide will give you an overview of what SearchMine.net is, how it got into your device, and how you can get rid of this nuisance completely.
What is Searchmine on Mac?
SearchMine is a type of browser hijacker that will modify the homepage, new tab page, and default search engine of your web browser and set it to https://searchmine.net. This browser redirect is made possible by the SearchMine browser plug-in or program that has been installed on your Mac.
This piece of malware mainly affects the browser installed on your computer, including Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and others. But since this malware infects mostly Macs, the incidence of Safari browser infection is higher compared to other browsers due to the fact that Safari is the default browser for macOS.
When Searchmine is installed on a computer, the browser hijacker will set the browser homepage to https://searchmine.net. And when you type in a query, the search will be done using the Searchmine search engine, which pulls its results from search.yahoo.com. So technically, it is like you’re doing a Yahoo search on a different website. The end goal of the Searchmine browser hijacker is to generate advertising revenue for its clients. Aside from redirecting your traffic, this malicious piece of software also tracks your searches and browsing history in order to display targeted advertising.
When the SearchMine browser hijacker infects your device, here are some of the common symptoms:
- The web browser’s default homepage changed to SearchMine
- The browser’s default search engine is changed to SearchMine.net
- Your search queries are redirected to https://searchmine.net
- You see a new SearchMine browser extension or application installed on your computer
Searchmine.net is just another variation of the weknow.ac and chumsearch.com fake search engines. This fake search engine performs browser redirects to Searchmine.net in order to gather information and send web traffic to other websites, including searchpowerapp.com, opti-page.com, trovi.com, webcrawler.com, and bing.com.
How Did Searchmine Get on Mac?
When your browser redirects to Searchmine.net, this means that the browser hijacker has been somehow installed on your Mac. This type of malware is often distributed through malicious advertisements or bundled with other software. Hence, it is difficult to determine where this software came from. If you recently installed freeware or another application, it is possible that the malware was installed along with that app.
This is why it is important that you always pay attention when installing new applications. Sometimes, software installers include optional installs that are not actually part of the original program. Be very careful what you agree to install and read every step of the installation process. Opt for the custom installation, if available, and uncheck anything that is unfamiliar, particularly optional software that you never intended to download and install in the first place. Do not install software that you don’t trust.
It is also possible that the malware got into your computer through malvertising. This means that the website you visited is loaded with malware, and once you visit that URL, the script is automatically downloaded to your computer. It is something that is hard to guard against because everything happens in the background. In fact, you don’t have to click anything or download anything because simply visiting the website is enough to trigger the malware download.
Getting the Searchmine browser hijacker can be irritating because it can be hard to remove. To get rid of searchmine browser hijacker completely, follow our removal steps below.
How to Remove Searchmine from Mac
Trying to get rid of searchmine browser hijacker is a lot of work because you need to remove all of its traces from your Mac, otherwise, it will just come back. If you encounter trouble anywhere in the process, boot into Safe Mode by pressing the Shift key when you restart your Mac, then proceed with the removal from there. Booting into Safe Mode kills all third-party processes that might interfere with the malware removal process.
To make sure you don’t miss anything, follow the outlined steps below:
1. Remove Malicious Profiles.
Malware usually creates a separate profile that can be used to perform its operations and prevent the user from removing the malicious software completely from the device. This is also the reason why you are not able to revert the changes to your browser no matter how you try.
To check your Mac for malicious configuration profiles, do the following:
- Go to Apple menu > System Preferences.
- Look for the Profiles icon and double click on it. If you don’t see Profiles, that only means that you nor the virus created any profile.
- When you open the Profiles, look for malicious entries under Device Profiles on the left.
- Click on that malicious profile and click the delete (–) button at the bottom of the window.
2. Uninstall Searchmine.
Once you have removed the malicious configuration profiles, you can now delete Searchmine from your computer. To do this:
- Click Finder and navigate to Applications. This will display all the applications installed on your Mac.
- Look for the Searchmine shortcut or icon.
- Right-click on the icon and choose Move to Trash.
- Go back to the Dock and right-click the trash icon, then select Empty Trash.
- Check and remove other malicious files by navigating to Finder > Go > Go to Folder.
- Check each of the folders below by copy-pasting then on the Go to Folder box, then click Go:
- /Library/Application Support
- Look for files associated with the searchmine browser hijacker, including:
- Delete the malicious files you found in these folders by dragging them to the Trash.
- Don’t forget to empty the Trash afterward.
3. Scan Your Mac for Leftover Files.
To make sure there are no infected files left on your computer, use your anti-malware or antivirus app to run a scan of macOS. If there are any infected files that you missed, use your security program to either quarantine or delete the files.
4. Revert the Changes to Your Browser.
Once you have completely removed the malware from your computer, you can then safely undo the changes done to your browser. Follow the steps below according to the browser you are using:
- Open Safari and click Safari > Preferences from the top menu.
- Go to the Homepage section and enter the URL of your desired homepage.
- Click on the Extensions tab and uninstall the malicious extension.
- Open Chrome and click the menu settings (three horizontal lines) then choose Settings.
- Click Advanced at the bottom.
- Under Reset and clean up, click Reset settings to their original defaults.
- Click Reset Settings to confirm.
- Open Firefox and click the menu settings (three horizontal lines) then choose Help.
- Click on Troubleshooting Information.
- Click Refresh Firefox.
- Click Refresh Firefox again to confirm.
- Click Finish.
Getting rid of Searchmine browser hijacker seems complicated because there are several steps you need to perform. However, following the guide above simplifies the entire process and ensures that no infected files are left on your device.