In April, it was discovered that a botnet consisting of hundreds of thousands of infected Mac PCs was in operation. All of the PCs had the Flashback malware installed. Apple later released a tool designed to remove the malware. Now a new report from security software company Symantec says that the total amount of revenue generated from the Flashback botnet seems to be rather small.
The article states:
From our analysis we have seen that, for a three-week period starting in April, the botnet displayed over 10 million ads on compromised computers but only a small percentage of users who were shown ads actually clicked them, with close to 400,000 ads being clicked.
Symantec believes that just $14,000 in revenue was generated from all those Flashback-based ad clicks. However, it adds that the ad feature of Flashback was only installed in 10,000 of the more than 600,000 infected Mac PCs, and suggests that if the creators of the malware had infected more Macs with this ad component, it could have generated millions of dollars in revenue.
Although per-per-click botnets are not a new idea—we have seen them on Windows for years—as the market share of Mac increases, we will see more Mac-related botnets similar to this one in the future.