Researchers spotted a new OS X scareware campaign

Pierluigi Paganini February 06, 2016

Experts at the SANS Technology Institute spotted an OS X scareware campaign that leverages fake Adobe Flash Player installers.

Johannes Ullrich, security expert at the SANS Technology Institute, spotted an OS X scareware campaign that leverages fake Adobe Flash Player installers to trick users into downloading malicious software. The expert discovered the malicious campaign while analyzing Facebook clickbait scams.

“They do not rely on a vulnerability in the operating system. Instead, the user is asked to willingly install them, by making them look like genuine Adobe Flash warnings (and we keep telling users to make sure Flash is up to date, so they are likely going to obey the warning and install the update).” states the blog post published by the SANS Technology Institute. “The “Installer” for the fake Flash update will install various scare ware (I observed a couple different varieties when re-running the installer), and it actually installs an up to date genuine version of Flash as well.”

The attackers used a simple and effective trick to deceive victims, the attack starts with a popup window alerting users that their Flash Player software is outdated and providing them the instruction to update it.

os x scareware

Ullrich suspects that the code used to display the popup is injected by an advertisement on the page visited by the victim. If users accept to install the bogus update they will receive a fake Flash Player installer.

The bogus installer is able to bypass the Apple’s Gatekeeper security feature, it appears as a legitimate application and is signed with a valid Apple developer certificate issued to one Maksim Noskov.

“Antivirus coverage was pretty bad yesterday when I came across this (4 out of 51 on Virustotal). On a brand new OS X 10.11 install, the “Installer” appears to install a genuine copy of Adobe Flash in addition to Scareware that asks for money after informing you of various system problems.” continues the post.

The software installs a genuine Flash Player software and attempts to convince users to download applications apparently designed to fix problems on the victim’s machine.

These applications attempt to trick users into calling a “support” line in order to receive instructions for fixing the alleged problems. The security experts published a small video showing what happens when victims install the “update” on a clean OS X 10.11 system:

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Mac OS X scareware, cybercrime)

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