A new family of malware called Fireball has infected more than a quarter of a billion computers worldwide. The malware has already claimed approximately one out of every five corporate networks, according to researchers at Check Point.
Given the threat of widespread harm, it's important that users think twice before downloading freeware.
Check Point's researchers echo this sentiment: "As with everything in the internet, remember that there are no free lunches. When you download freeware, or use cost-free services (streaming and downloads, for example), the service provider is making profit somehow. If it’s not from you or from advertisements, it will come from somewhere else."
That's not to say all freeware comes bundled with some dangerous program like Fireball. But that's not saying a freely available program couldn't come with a hidden threat.
To see if they've suffered a Fireball infection, users should carefully review their browsers' home pages, default search engines, and extensions. If anything looks unfamiliar, they should try to reverse the changes. If they can't, they should restore their web browsers to their default settings.