A new malware called Fireball has infected more than 250 million computers worldwide and 20% of corporate networks, according to Check Point Threat Intelligence.
Fireball acts as a browser-hijacker and can be turned into a malware downloader capable of executing any code on victim machines, according to Check Point. The operation is run by Chinese digital marketing agency called Rafotech. "We believe that although this is not a typical malware attack campaign, it has the potential to cause irreversible damage to its victims as well as worldwide internet users, and therefore it must be blocked by security companies," Check Point said.
India and Brazil have seen the most infections to date. The United States counts 5.5 million infections so far.
Though Fireball itself is not dangerous, the potential is there. A program like Fireball could one day collect data from victim machines and use that data for nefarious purposes, or implant malware on millions of machines. And the fact that it is spread primarily by bundling itself to purposely downloaded programs without user knowledge or consent makes it particularly onerous.
Long the subject of science fiction, the potential of a broad-ranging computer virus causing damage worldwide seems to become more real each day as cybercriminals hone their skills and stay one step ahead of the "good guys."
For example, the WannaCry ransomware released last month reached 200,000 targets in at least 150 countries. For this reason, computer security is constantly taking up more CIO time, budget and concern.