The Microsoft Tax: 74,000 Windows PCs in 2,500 companies attacked globally; Mac users unaffected

Apple Online Store“More than 74,000 PCs at nearly 2,500 organizations around the globe were compromised over the past year and a half in a botnet infestation designed to steal login credentials to bank sites, social networks, and e-mail systems, a security firm said Wednesday,” Elinor Mills reports for CNET.

“The systems were infected with the Zeus Trojan and the botnet was dubbed ‘Kneber’ after a username that linked the infected PCs on corporate and government systems, according to NetWitness,” Mills reports. “The Wall Street Journal reported that Merck, Cardinal Health, Paramount Pictures, and Juniper Networks were among the targets in the attack. NetWitness speculated that criminals in Eastern Europe using a command-and-control server in Germany sent attachments containing the malware in e-mails or links to the malware on Web sites that employees within the companies clicked on.”

Mills reports, “NetWitness said it discovered more than 75 gigabytes worth of stolen data during routine analytic tasks as part of an evaluation of a client network on January 26. The cache of stolen data included 68,000 corporate login credentials, access to e-mail systems, online banking sites, Facebook, Yahoo, Hotmail, 2,000 SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate files and data on individuals.”

“In addition to stealing specific data, Zeus can be used to search for and steal any file on the computer, download and execute programs and allow someone to remotely control the computer,” Mills reports. “More than half of the compromised machines were also infected with peer-to-peer bot malware called Waledac, the company said. Nearly 200 countries were affected, with most of the infections found in Egypt, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hey, good thing you saved that $169.47 per seat upfront when you bought those WIndows boxes instead of those Macs your users really wanted, IT geniuses. You’ll waste your organizations 80 times your “savings” just trying to clean up just this Windows mess. Don’t worry, there’ll be many more to come. Isn’t built-in job security grand?

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Eric L.” for the heads up.]


  1. I got a call from an ex-inlaw last night. Their laptop had froze up again right after getting it out of the shop to have it cleaned.

    They want me to find them a used Mac.

    They will be my eighth conversion in less than 3 years.

  2. I’ve ben in desktop support for over 15 years, on both macs and Windows. Macs DO beat Windows hands down, for both usability and security.

    I had little luck in converting Windows users until about three years ago, and since have converted almost a dozen. BUT, each of those have also been busily converting their own contacts, so that now I’ve got literally dozens and dozens of “converts” indirectly attributable to me through those initial prime converts.

    It just keeps on growing.

  3. Yet none of the typical tech bloggers that are PC/Windows centric ever talks about this *REAL* Microsoft Tax when comparing Mac and Windows in their articles. They always say Macs cost more, yada yada yada…. bull! Factor in that MS TAX and boom, Windows users LOSE!

  4. Just to make things clear:
    IT guy didn’t get windows boxes just to “save’ money, they get windows boxes because most of them are so ignorant that they don’t know any other option and can’t figure out how to implemented even if they find it.

    I know a lot of IT guys that have spend thousand of dollars in training and certifications from Microsoft and they are not planning to trow that away just because the Macintosh is better.

  5. We can’t really tell how Macs will do in such an attack until they are the main computers in the majority of companies.

    My university, which runs windows xp has never been down because of spyware or virus’. The only time I have seen the system down is when the Novell NetWare servers were down.

  6. Re: MDN Take… I don’t think even MDN gets it. IT guarantees their jobs long into the future as long as they keep Microsoft in the enterprise. Can you blame ’em? For Apple (or anyone else) to move into the enterprise the ROI discussion has to take place at the “C” level not with the lowly IT dept.

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