Symantec: Flashback malware netted upwards of $10,000 a day

The malware that plagued Apple Macs is engineered to fraudulently click ads

Symantec said on Tuesday the Flashback malware that attacked Apple Mac computers could have netted its authors up to US$10,000 a day.

The company reverse engineered one version of the malware, called "Flashback.K," which it said deprives Google of advertising revenue. Flashback is believed to be the largest-ever malware campaign that has targeted Apple's operating system so far.

"Flashback specifically targets search queries made on Google and, depending on the search query, may redirect users to another page of the attacker's choosing, where they receive revenue from the click," according to a Symantec blog post.

When a person using an infected computer clicks on a Google advertisement, Flashback analyzes the request and substitutes the web site paying for the advertisement with its own.

Flashback also uses a specially crafted user-agent string, which comprises information about a computer accessing a website, in "an effort to thwart 'unknown' parties from investigating the URL with unrecognized user agents," Symantec wrote.

The company looked at what happened when a user clicked on an ad for toys. The click for the ad, worth $.08, is redirected to the a website affiliated with the attackers.

"This ultimately results in lost revenue for Google and untold sums of money for the Flashback gang," Symantec wrote. Since Flashback infected hundreds of thousands of users, "this figure could sharply rise to the order of $10,000 per day," Symantec wrote.

Flashback infected Apple computers using a critical vulnerability in Java, which Apple patched in early April about seven weeks after the issue was disclosed. In the interim, upwards of 800,000 computers were believed to have been infected. Apple released a special Flashback removal tool on April 13.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?