Security experts have identified a potentially dangerous new malware called Fireball which has infected millions of computers world-wide with the ability to infiltrate corporate networks. Chinese in origin, the malware downloads to the user’s computer or device bundled with desired freeware or shareware or through infected websites. Fireball targets both Windows and Mac operating systems.

Once installed, Fireball is not only capable of running any code on the infected system, downloading files and additional malware, it can hijack and exploit the user’s web traffic to generate ad income. The first symptoms display as unwanted, annoying ads in the user’s web browser. In a short period of time, it gathers data about the user’s interests so it can adjust its ads match them. The goal is to deceive the user into clicking on the fake ads, sending them to compromised sites where they hope to harvest personal and financial information from the victim and further spy on them. Fireball can further modify the victim computer’s browser settings, add extensions, change the home page – even replace the browser entirely.  

What should users do to prevent a Fireball malware infection?

According to Check Point Software Technologies, Fireball hijacks browsers and generates income for a  digital marketing agency called Rafotech in Beijing and is often bundled with appealing apps from the company such as Deal Wifi, Mustang Browser, Soso Desktop and FVP Imageviewer. Since it can also be bundled with other third-party freeware, users should exercise caution before downloading any application or program even if it’s from a trusted source. Consumers should keep in mind that just because nothing out of the ordinary happened immediately following the download of a suspicious app or program, that doesn’t mean it won’t at a later time.

What should users do if they have a Fireball infection?

There are numerous how-to guides and programs for virus and malware removal on the internet. However, considering the threat Fireball poses in harvesting a victim’s personal information, users who want to ensure the safety of their devices and data should get help from a professional.