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

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
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

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?