A security firm says that the “Flashback” malware that plagued hundreds of thousands of Macs worldwide may have made as much as $10,000 a day for its authors.
The estimate comes from the security firm Symantec, which said in a post to its official blog that the primary motivation behind the malware was money. The Flashback Trojan includes an ad-clicking component that will load itself into the three major browsers for Mac — Safari, Firefox and Chrome — and generate revenue for the attackers.
“Flashback specifically targets 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,” Symantec explained.
While examining the malware’s code, the firm found a redirected URL that generates the authors of the code 8 cents per click. Flashback accomplished its task by hijacking Google searches made by users, taking money away from the search giant.
Previous analysis of another Trojan found that a botnet of just 25,000 infections could generate up to $450 a day. At its peak, the Flashback trojan is estimated to have infected 600,000 Macs. This means the authors could have been earning as much as $10,000 a day.
The Flashback infection numbers have dropped precipitously from its peak infection rate since Apple released a series of software updates, including a Java update, and a removal tool.