Chinese Police dismantled the behind the Fireball adware campaign that infected more than 250 Million PCs

Pierluigi Paganini July 26, 2017

Chinese authorities arrested eleven members of the gang behind the Fireball adware campaign that infected more than 250 Million PCs.

Chinese police have identified and arrested individuals suspected to be the operators behind the massive adware campaign that infected more than 250 Million computers across the world earlier this year.

In June, researchers at security firm Check Point discovered the massive campaign spreading the Fireball malware. The malicious code was infecting both Windows and Mac OS systems, it can be used by attackers to gain full controls of the victim’s web browsers, to spy on the victims and exfiltrate user data.

The adware is disguised as a legitimate software and leverages browser plug-ins to boost its own advertisements.

Fireball malware

The researchers associated the campaign with the operation of the Chinese firm Rafotech that is a company that officially offers digital marketing and game apps to 300 million customers.

Chinese media outlets reported eleven Rafotech employees arrested by local police, including executives. It seems that the authorities arrested the suspects in June shortly after the publication of the report.

The Chongqing Morning News confirmed that the president, the technical director, and an operations director were arrested by the Chinese Police.

According to the state-owned outlet “Sixth Tone,” the click-fraud netted 80 million yuan, nearly US$12 million.

The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau Haidian Branch Network Security Brigade was informed by someone working under the pseudonym Zhang Ming, then the authorities monitored the Fireball campaign tracking its operators.

The individuals have allegedly “admitted the facts,” they were responsible for the campaign that launched around 2015 when the Rafotech setup the advertising fraud.

According to Beijing Youth Daily, the Fireball adware did not infect Chinese users to avoid being investigated by local authorities.

To check the presence of the malware on your systems open your web browser and try to reply the following questions:

  1. Did you set your homepage?
  2. Are you able to modify your browser’s homepage?
  3. Are you familiar with your default search engine and can modify that as well?
  4. Do you remember installing all of your browser extensions?

To uninstall the adware just remove the respective application from the machine and reset to default settings for your browser.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  (Fireball, adware)

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