PanelStart is advertised as a useful Mac program, but it’s actually adware. There are many identical programs, including UpgradeIdeas, UpgradeSearchSystem, ContentStyles and many more. They sneak into a Mac, start collecting information related to users’ activities, and then bombard users with ads. Those ads are not only annoying, but also somewhat dangerous. They could be promoting scams, questionable and even malicious programs, etc. These kinds of programs are also useless to you, as their only purpose is showing you ads. There really is no reason why you should not delete PanelStart.
If you notice that PanelStart is installed, avoid interacting with ads until you get rid of it. You can confirm your suspicions that PanelStart is installed by going to Finder -> Applications. If you see the program among the applications, your Mac is infected. Fortunately, it’s not a serious infection and is fairly easy to deal with. However, unless you like being bombarded with ads, the sooner you get rid of PanelStart, the better.
Adware distribution methods
Most adware is spread via fake updates and freeware bundles. It can come attached to free software as an extra offer, and unless users manually deselect it, it will install alongside. A lot of free programs come with these offers attached but users are usually not aware of this because they are hidden. To make them visible and have the option of deselecting them, users need to opt for Advanced (Custom) settings when given the option. Unlike Default, Advanced will display everything that has been added. All users need to do is uncheck the boxes. It’s recommended to always deselect the offers because nothing good every comes from them.
Adware could have also been disguised and pushed to users as an update. Fake update notifications often appear when users are browsing free streaming, adult entertainment, and betting sites. The ads are made to appear like they’re real update notifications, and less tech-savvy users are tricked into downloading adware and other infections. In reality, legitimate updates are never pushed via your browser. If a program needs an update, the program itself will let the user know. And most updates are downloaded and installed automatically. If users want to install an update manually, the update must come from an official source.
Is PanelStart dangerous?
PanelStart itself isn’t actually that dangerous. It won’t directly damage your computer, nor will it open a backdoor for other malware, but it will expose you to plenty of not only annoying but also dangerous ads. The ads will appear on all browsers you use, whether it’s Safari, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Engaging with any ads is not recommended if you notice adware installed. Adware ads are not checked and can expose you to highly unreliable content, including scams and malware. You may be shown ads that advertise disguised malware and be tricked into downloading it, or you could be scammed into providing your personal information.
Adware also collects information about users and tracks what they search for, what sites they visit, their IP address, etc. The information is used to generate ads users would be more likely to click on, or shared with unfamiliar third-parties.
The easiest way to remove PanelStart would be to use anti-spyware software. You can uninstall PanelStart manually but you would need to find all related files yourself and that can take a while. Using anti-spyware would be much easier and less time-consuming.