Beijing officials arrested 11 individuals linked to Fireball malware after receiving a tip from someone operating under the pseudonym “Zhang Ming.”
The adware is capable of hijacking a user’s browser and running any code on an infected device, according to independent researcher Graham Cluley. The malware is responsible for infecting 250 million users worldwide, reportedly affected one out of every five corporate networks, and is believed to have generated 80 million yuan in 2016 alone.
Authorities suspected the malware came bundled with free software offered by the Chinese digital marketing agency Rafotech. After confirming this was true, authorities traced the location of the company and arrested 11 of its employees.
Researchers recommend users proceed with caution before downloading freeware by insuring it’s from a reliable developer and or from a trusted marketplace. Earlier this year Microsoft said the threat of the malware was greatly overblown.