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Many New PCs in China Come With Malware Preinstalled

By - Source: Microsoft | B 23 comments

In China, there is not much you have to do to contract a virus on your PC. Plus, you have a one in five chance that you will get that first virus on your brand new PC right out of the box.

Microsoft revealed this finding in a new whitepaper and attributes the high rate of infections of PCs to a shaky supply chain structure that does not prevent the presence of counterfeit products. To lower the cost of a new PC, potentially compromised products are sometimes knowingly accepted. It does not take much to see that this scenario is a goldmine for malware makers and allows the malware business to flourish.

In its whitepaper Microsoft said that in some instances malware strains were contacting a known malware hosting source, 3322.org, and added infected PCs to the Nitol DDoS botnet. There were "500 different strains of malware hosted on more than 70,000 subdomains," Microsoft said.

Following its discovery, Microsoft acquired control of the domain via a court order on September 10. In addition to Nitol, Microsoft said that it also found malware "capable of remotely turning on an infected computer’s microphone and video camera, potentially giving a cybercriminal eyes and ears into a victim’s home or business", as well as malware "that records a person’s every key stroke, allowing cybercriminals to steal a victim’s personal information."

Microsoft said that its recent actions will "reduce the impact of the menacing and disturbing threats associated with Nitol and the 3322.org domain". However, there is no effect on the overall infrastructure how malware finds its way into the supply chain. This case is clearly limited to China, but given the increasing concern about counterfeit products, it may be a smart move and common sense to run an anti-malware scan on your next new PC when you turn it on for the first time. Just in case.

 

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    waynewarrior78 , September 24, 2012 1:07 PM
    The first thing I have to do (and I imagine most people on this site) when I buy a new laptop or phone is completely reformat and install the OS due to the incredible amount of bull crap they install on it for you. My asus laptop and Skyrocket phone were useless day 1, awesome day 2 :D 
  • 17 Hide
    Pennanen , September 24, 2012 1:31 PM
    waynewarrior78The first thing I have to do (and I imagine most people on this site) when I buy a new laptop or phone is completely reformat and install the OS due to the incredible amount of bull crap they install on it for you. My asus laptop and Skyrocket phone were useless day 1, awesome day 2

    Funny thing, all the bloatware that prebuilt pcs and laptops have make the pc slower than if it was infected.
  • 13 Hide
    mavroxur , September 24, 2012 1:40 PM
    HP/Compaq have been doing this since the 90's
Other Comments
    Display all 23 comments.
  • 24 Hide
    waynewarrior78 , September 24, 2012 1:07 PM
    The first thing I have to do (and I imagine most people on this site) when I buy a new laptop or phone is completely reformat and install the OS due to the incredible amount of bull crap they install on it for you. My asus laptop and Skyrocket phone were useless day 1, awesome day 2 :D 
  • 1 Hide
    rantoc , September 24, 2012 1:07 PM
    Block the whole .cn ip range seems more and more like a clever move!
  • 8 Hide
    stingstang , September 24, 2012 1:10 PM
    Anyone else for cutting China off the internet?
  • 1 Hide
    stingstang , September 24, 2012 1:11 PM
    rantocBlock the whole .cn ip range seems more and more like a clever move!

    I made a petition, posted it in the comments of a few "China hackers..." articles, and no one signed it. Maybe everyone's too scared, which means it's too late.
  • 17 Hide
    Pennanen , September 24, 2012 1:31 PM
    waynewarrior78The first thing I have to do (and I imagine most people on this site) when I buy a new laptop or phone is completely reformat and install the OS due to the incredible amount of bull crap they install on it for you. My asus laptop and Skyrocket phone were useless day 1, awesome day 2

    Funny thing, all the bloatware that prebuilt pcs and laptops have make the pc slower than if it was infected.
  • 13 Hide
    mavroxur , September 24, 2012 1:40 PM
    HP/Compaq have been doing this since the 90's
  • 5 Hide
    digiex , September 24, 2012 1:52 PM
    stingstangAnyone else for cutting China off the internet?

    China is cut from the internet from the inside, except the government sponsored hackers spying from corporations, advance military to cut short their R&D.
  • -5 Hide
    john_4 , September 24, 2012 1:59 PM
    Makes me want to run out and buy a Lenevo, Not.
  • 5 Hide
    cats_Paw , September 24, 2012 2:38 PM
    Now All your base are belong to us?
  • 8 Hide
    willard , September 24, 2012 2:53 PM
    mavroxurHP/Compaq have been doing this since the 90's

    Ahh, bringing back memories. Who didn't love getting a new computer with a shiny new copy of Windows Me installed and two dozen HP programs you couldn't remove to "help" you by consuming all of your whopping 128MB of memory.
  • -6 Hide
    halcyon , September 24, 2012 3:03 PM
    Uh duh! While many of the Chinese women are beautiful, they and the guys are smart as hell and can be sneaky. ...prolly doing it for their gov't to spy. Hot Chinese hackers...delicious.
  • -8 Hide
    aoneone , September 24, 2012 3:20 PM
    You'd have to be a COMplete moron to let your own PC be infected with Malware. Anyone with a brain would first isolate your new computer from the Internet, go through each Bios settings, reset , re-format and re-install a fresh copy and just go through driver by driver. Jeezus Christ, this isn't rocket science here, it's just cleaning your PC LOL..
  • 2 Hide
    belardo , September 24, 2012 4:01 PM
    Aoneone: A typical PC user is supposed to know this? To do a "fresh" install would also mean for the end-user to go out and buy Windows for $100~150 for a fresh-install... as NEW PCs don't actually come with an official Windows OS disc. All they get is a factory-restore, which does nothing.

    And YES Aoneone: to typical people - it IS rocket science.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , September 24, 2012 4:40 PM
    That sounds like a time saver.
  • -1 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , September 24, 2012 4:54 PM
    in america we call this trialware. lol
  • 1 Hide
    halcyon , September 24, 2012 5:25 PM
    belardoAoneone: A typical PC user is supposed to know this? To do a "fresh" install would also mean for the end-user to go out and buy Windows for $100~150 for a fresh-install... as NEW PCs don't actually come with an official Windows OS disc. All they get is a factory-restore, which does nothing.And YES Aoneone: to typical people - it IS rocket science.

    It is not uncommon for the younger generation, IT pros, or hobbiests to take the complexities of IT for granted...but to some re-installing and configuring the OS is complex. ...just as rebuilding an engine would be to a
    lot of us IT oriented folks.
  • -2 Hide
    spat55 , September 24, 2012 5:42 PM
    Just as well I built my PC. I have a laptop, which is 3 years old, still runs great even with vista, but as it never came with a Vista disk, I cannot reinstall it unfortunately the only thing I can do is maybe buy windows 7 for it. Thing is it is 3 years old now so the trackpad click doesn't work well and I snapped the right ctrl off.
  • 3 Hide
    john_4 , September 24, 2012 6:02 PM
    spat55Just as well I built my PC. I have a laptop, which is 3 years old, still runs great even with vista, but as it never came with a Vista disk, I cannot reinstall it unfortunately the only thing I can do is maybe buy windows 7 for it. Thing is it is 3 years old now so the trackpad click doesn't work well and I snapped the right ctrl off.

    Run Ubuntu and get secure computing.
  • -4 Hide
    john_4 , September 24, 2012 6:03 PM
    From the thumbs down on anyone who slams China I see there are allot of commie sympathizers on here but the Democrats/liberals are full of commie lovers.
  • -1 Hide
    nurgletheunclean , September 24, 2012 6:11 PM
    spat55Just as well I built my PC. I have a laptop, which is 3 years old, still runs great even with vista, but as it never came with a Vista disk, I cannot reinstall it unfortunately the only thing I can do is maybe buy windows 7 for it.

    Unfortunately this is standard for PCs. You merely get a recovery partition, where you can restore all the trialware, malware, and bloat that was originally installed. The option for physical media is unreasonably expensive from major manufacturers. And while it may be easy for some to simply download an ISO and use the OEM key you have, most people are unable to properly burn/mount an ISO, much less download one. Everyone who is able to service their own PC needs to consider themselves lucky and not simply assume everyone is capable of that.
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