Apple Updates Anti-Malware Definitions to Address Fake Flash Player Trojan

flash player trojan
Fake Flash Player trojan installer

While things have been relatively quiet on the malware front for OS X since a raid on Russian payment processing firm ChronoPay appeared to have taken down MacDefender nearly two months ago, one new trojan horse did pop up earlier this month. As detailed by F-Secure, the trojan known as "OSX.QHost.WB.A" masquerades as a Flash Player installer but actually adds entries to a computer's hosts file to redirect users attempting to visit certain Google sites.

Once installed, the trojan adds entries to the hosts file to hijack users visiting various Google sites (e.g., Google.com.tw, Google.com.tl, et cetera) to the IP address 91.224.160.26, which is located in Netherlands.

The server at the IP address displays a fake webpage designed to appear similar to the legitimate Google site.

Search results on the fake Google pages actually lead to pop-up windows that load external content which was broken at the time of discovery but presumably consisted of advertisements of some sort. While the threat as implemented at the time of discovery was relatively mild, inexperienced users falling for the trojan could find themselves unaware of what had happened to their systems and how to fix the hijacked routing added by the malware.

osx qhost wb a
Consequently, Apple earlier this week made its first significant addition to its "XProtect.plist" file since the spate of MacDefender variants surfaced in June. The XProtect.plist file contains malware definitions to enable users' systems to recognize and warn users of malicious downloads, a feature that debuted with Mac OS X Snow Leopard back in 2009.

The original anti-malware system required manual updates to account for new threats, and as such was updated only rarely by Apple as part of larger software updates. But with an Apple software update issued in response to the MacDefender threat earlier this year, Mac OS X systems are now able to make daily checks for updates to that file to ensure up-to-date protection against malware.

Top Rated Comments

KnightWRX Avatar
125 months ago
Let's get this out of the way right now : This is not an OS X virus.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Stridder44 Avatar
125 months ago
Awesome, I was not aware that it updated daily.

And yes, this is not a virus. This is malware.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
longofest Avatar
125 months ago
No, it's not a "virus". It's a trojan. You think it's good, but its bad. (heh... depending on if you think "flash" is "good").

A question I have though, is under what conditions should ANY software modify the hosts file? Should Apple even allow programs that have been granted administrative rights to alter the hosts file? There is only a very limited benvolent use case for such an action, and that very related to what they did here: some anti-ad or anti-spyware utilities modify a host file to redirect known ad-producing domains to a "safe" domain. I personally think any modification of the host file should be given a warning like this:

The program _____ is trying to update a core Mac OS X system file that is used to provide network connectivity. While online advertisement blocking programs may require legitimate use of this file, most others applications may represent an attempt to install malicious software onto your computer. Are you sure you want to allow program _____ to modify this file?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BC2009 Avatar
125 months ago
Funny.... I updated Flash yesterday on my kids' Mac mini and I thought that writing a Trojan that masquerades as an update to Flash would be brilliant since Flash is updated so often and getting prompted that you need to update Flash to view a website is very common..... And then today, here it is.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sjhonny Avatar
125 months ago
That's why you need to disable flash. :p

This has nothing to do with Flash.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
devilstrider Avatar
125 months ago
Been out of the loop for 10 weeks and MacRumors is getting my up to speed fast. I love this site.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
flat mbp 14 inch feature yellow

Redesigned 14-Inch MacBook Pro Expected to Feature Brighter Mini-LED Display With Slimmer Bezels and More

Thursday February 25, 2021 7:48 am PST by
Apple plans to unveil new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED-backlit displays in the second half of this year, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report claims that Radiant Opto-Electronics will be the exclusive supplier of the Mini-LED backlight units, while Quanta Computer is said to be tasked with final assembly of the...
Top Stories 47 Feature copy

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, and AirPods Rumors, macOS 11.2.2, MagSafe Wallet Revisited

Saturday February 27, 2021 6:00 am PST by
March is right around the corner, and that means our first good opportunity for Apple product launches in 2021 as the company frequently has significant launches in March or April each year. We're hearing rumors about MacBook Pro, iMac, AirPods, and more, although many of these will be coming out at different times over the course of the year. This week also saw a macOS update to address a ...
maxresdefault

HomeKit Essentials Worth Checking Out

Saturday February 27, 2021 7:05 am PST by
HomeKit was slow to take off after its 2014 launch, but now that it's been around for seven years, there are hundreds of HomeKit products available, ranging from doorbells and speakers to TVs, lights, and cameras. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some of our favorite HomeKit products that we find most useful. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. HomePod...
apple store macarthur center

Apple Store at MacArthur Center in Virginia Permanently Closing Following Years of Safety Issues at Shopping Mall

Thursday February 25, 2021 4:45 pm PST by
Apple today indicated that its retail store at the MacArthur Center shopping mall in Norfolk, Virginia will be permanently closing after over 14 years of business, although an exact closure date has yet to be announced by the company. Apple has assured that it will be offering all employees at the store other positions within Apple, and said that it looks forward to continuing to serve...
jon prosser imac 2021colors

Prosser: 2021 iMac to Come in Five Colors, Apple Silicon Mac Pro to Resemble 'Stacked' Mac Minis

Wednesday February 24, 2021 7:26 am PST by
Hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has today alleged that the upcoming 2021 iMac models will offer five color options, mirroring the colors of the fourth-generation iPad Air, and revealed a number of additional details about the Mac Pro with Apple Silicon. In a new video on YouTube channel FrontPageTech, Prosser explained that the redesigned iMacs will come featuring options for Silver, Space ...
apple refurbished m1 mac mini

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished M1 Mac Mini

Thursday February 25, 2021 6:42 pm PST by
Apple today began selling certified refurbished Mac mini models with the M1 chip for the first time in the United States and Canada, with prices discounted by approximately 15 percent compared to brand new models as usual. For example, a refurbished Mac mini with the M1 chip, 256GB of SSD storage, and 16GB of unified memory is available for $759, compared to $899 brand new. Other custom...
mac mini developer transition kit photo feature

Apple Requiring Developers to Return DTK Mac Minis by March 31

Friday February 26, 2021 3:57 pm PST by
Apple today sent out emails to developers who are in possession of a Developer Transition Kit, asking them to return the machines by March 31. The Developer Transition Kits are Mac minis with A12Z chips that Apple provided for development purposes ahead of the release of the M1 Macs. Apple in the emails provided developers with shipping instructions, and plans to begin collecting the DTKs...
m1 mac mini

M1 Mac Users Report Excessive SSD Wear

Tuesday February 23, 2021 7:07 am PST by
Over the past week, some M1 Mac users have been reporting alarming SSD health readings, suggesting that these devices are writing extraordinary amounts of data to their drives (via iMore). Across Twitter and the MacRumors forums, users are reporting that M1 Macs are experiencing extremely high drive writes over a short space of time. In what appear to be the most severe cases, M1 Macs are sai...