Windows PCs: Now pre-loaded with viruses!

“Cybercriminals have opened a new front in their battle to infect computers with malware – PC production lines,” BBC News reports. “Several new computers have been found carrying malware installed in the factory, suggests a Microsoft study.”

“One virus called Nitol found by Microsoft steals personal details to help criminals plunder online bank accounts.,” The Beeb reports. “In a report detailing its work to disrupt the Nitol botnet, Microsoft said the criminals behind the malicious program had exploited insecure supply chains to get viruses installed as PCs were being built. The viruses were discovered when Microsoft digital crime investigators bought 20 PCs, 10 desktops and 10 laptops from different cities in China.”

The Beeb reports, “Four of the computers were infected with malicious programs even though they were fresh from the factory.”

Read more in the full article here.

Richard Lardner reports for The Associate Press, ” customer in Shenzhen, China, took a new laptop out of its box and booted it up for the first time. But as the screen lit up, the computer began taking on a life of its own. The machine, triggered by a virus hidden in its hard drive, began searching across the Internet for another computer.”

“The laptop, supposedly in pristine, super-fast, direct-from-the-factory condition, had instantly become part of an illegal, global network capable of attacking websites, looting bank accounts and stealing personal data,” Lardner reports. “For years, online investigators have warned consumers about the dangers of opening or downloading emailed files from unknown or suspicious sources. Now, they say malicious software and computer code could be lurking on computers before the bubble wrap even comes off.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The wow starts now. If you haven’t already done so long ago, get a Mac.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Scott” and “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Security experts: Apple did OS X Mountain Lion’s Gatekeeper right – February 16, 2012
OS X Mountain Lion’s Gatekeeper slams the door on Mac trojans – February 16, 2012

The Microsoft Tax: Critical Windows flaw affects millions of high-value PCs with self-replicating attacks – March 13, 2012
The Microsoft Tax: Virus infects Windows PC control systems of US Predator and Reaper drones – October 8, 2011
The Microsoft Tax: ‘Indestructible’ botnet attacks millions of Windows PCs; Macintosh unaffected – July 1, 2011
The Microsoft tax: Stuxnet computer worm infects Microsoft’s porous Windows OS; Mac unaffected – September 27, 2010
The Microsoft Tax: New undetectable Windows trojan empties bank accounts worldwide; Mac unaffected – August 11, 2010
The Microsoft Tax: Windows zero-day flaw exposes users to code execution attack; Mac unaffected – August 09, 2010
The Microsoft Tax: Critical flaw lets hackers take remote control of Windows PCs; Mac unaffected – August 07, 2010
The Microsoft Tax: New attack bypasses every Windows XP security product tested; Mac unaffected – May 11, 2010
The Microsoft Tax: McAfee correctly identifies Windows as malware; Macintosh unaffected – April 21, 2010
The Microsoft Tax: DNS Windows PC Trojan poses as iPhone unlock utility; Mac and iPhone unaffected – April 15, 2010
The Microsoft Tax: 1-in-10 Windows PCs still vulnerable to Conficker worm; Macintosh unaffected – April 08, 2010
The Microsoft Tax: 74,000 Windows PCs in 2,500 companies attacked globally; Mac users unaffected – February 18, 2010
The Microsoft Tax: Widespread attacks exploit Internet Explorer flaw; Macintosh unaffected – January 22, 2010
The Microsoft Tax: Windows 7 zero-day flaw enables attackers to cripple PCs; Macintosh unaffected – November 16, 2009
The Microsoft Tax: Windows 7 flaw allows attackers to remotely crash PCs; Macintosh unaffected – November 12, 2009
The Microsoft Tax: Windows virus delivers child porn to PCs, users go to jail; Mac users unaffected – November 09, 2009
The Microsoft Tax: Worms infest Windows PCs worldwide; Mac users unaffected – November 02, 2009
The Microsoft Tax: Banking Trojan horse steals money from Windows sufferers; Mac users unaffected – September 30, 2009
The Microsoft Tax: Serious Windows security flaw lets hackers to take over PCs; Macintosh unaffected – July 07, 2009
The Microsoft Tax: Windows Conficker worm hits hospital devices; Macintosh unaffected – April 29, 2009
The Microsoft Tax: Conficker virus begins to attack Windows PCs; Macintosh unaffected – April 27, 2009
The Microsoft Tax: Conficker’s estimated economic cost: $9.1 billion – April 24, 2009
Millions of Windows PCs taken over by hackers, including UK and US gov’t machines; Macs unaffected – April 22, 2009
Conficker worm hits University of Utah’s Windows PCs; Apple Macs unaffected – April 13, 2009
Windows Conficker kicks into action, able to steal data from infected PCs; Macintosh unaffected – April 10, 2009
Windows Conficker worm awakens, updates via P2P, begins to drop payload; Macintosh unaffected – April 09, 2009
Millions of infected Windows PCs set to go off on April 1; Macintosh unaffected – March 31, 2009
Millions of infected Microsoft Windows PCs face doomsday on April 1; Macintosh unaffected – March 24, 2009
Windows data-stealing ‘Tigger’ trojan infects stock trading firms; Macintosh users unaffected – March 10, 2009
French navy fighter planes grounded by Windows worm; Mac-based naval systems unaffected – February 25, 2009
Houston courts shut down due to Windows virus; Macs unaffected – February 10, 2009
Windows virus knocks out Vancouver school computers for three weeks and counting; Macs unaffected – January 31, 2009
Massive Windows virus with mystery payload continues to spread rapidly; Macintosh unaffected – January 26, 2009
Massive Windows virus continues rapid spread, also affects Vista, Windows 7; Macintosh unaffected – January 21, 2009
Windows PC worm infection numbers skyrocket; Macintosh unaffected – January 19, 2009
Dangerous new sleeper virus exposes millions of Windows PCs to hijack; Macintosh unaffected – January 16, 2009
Zero-day attack targets all versions of Internet Explorer; Mac users unaffected – December 12, 2008
Windows worm loose on International Space Station; Mac-using astronauts unaffected – August 27, 2008
Microsoft inflicts Internet Explorer 8 Beta; Mac users unaffected – March 05, 2008
Gathering ‘Storm’ superworm poses grave threat to Windows PCs; Apple Macs unaffected – October 19, 2007
Windows virus cripples Florida newspaper; Mac-based publishers unaffected – March 02, 2007
Insidious Windows virus threatens business networks worldwide; Macintosh unaffected – March 01, 2007
Windows ‘Storm Worm’ rages across globe; Apple Macintosh unaffected – January 19, 2007
Sony, Gracenote sound alarm over Microsoft flaw; Macintosh unaffected – September 19, 2006
PowerPoint zero-day attack compromises data in infected Windows PCs; Mac OS X unaffected – July 21, 2006
Windows PC users infected with worm face loss of all Microsoft, Adobe files; Mac users unaffected – January 31, 2006
Microsoft Windows’ Zero-Day WMF flaw threats widespread; Macintosh unaffected – December 29, 2005
Microsoft Windows virus spreads rapidly; Apple Macintosh unaffected – November 28, 2005
Windows users fall victim to huge ID theft ring, 50 banks in danger; Apple Mac users unaffected – August 25, 2005
Quickly spreading Microsoft Windows worm affects CNN, ABC, NY Times; Apple Macintosh unaffected – August 16, 2005
‘Zotob’ worm rapidly infects Microsoft Windows; Macintosh unaffected – August 15, 2005
16-percent of computer users are unaffected by viruses, malware because they use Apple Macs – June 15, 2005
Microsoft warns of critical Windows flaws; unaffected Mac users just continue working – June 15, 2005
Michael Jackson suicide spam hides Windows virus; Macintosh unaffected – June 10, 2005
Windows Sober.p poised to attack this Monday; Macintosh unaffected – May 21, 2005
Microsoft Windows Sober.P worm shows ‘epidemic’ spread; Macintosh unaffected – May 03, 2005
Anzae/Inzae worm affects all Windows versions after 3.1; Macintosh unaffected – December 28, 2004
Windows Mydoom worm variant spreading in the wild; Macintosh unaffected – November 09, 2004
Windows XP worm speaks to users as it deletes their files; Macintosh unaffected – September 13, 2004
Millions of Windows PC’s hijacked by hackers, turned into zombies; Macintosh unaffected – September 08, 2004
Windows ‘Zindos’ virus spreads, attacks Microsoft.com; Macintosh unaffected – July 29, 2004
New Windows Bagle virus variants spread; Macintosh unaffected – July 16, 2004
Windows Lovegate worm variant renders computers useless; Macintosh unaffected – July 08, 2004
Windows Scob virus collects passwords, financial data; Macintosh unaffected – July 05, 2004
Windows ‘Scob’ virus designed to steal financial data, passwords; Macintosh unaffected – June 26, 2004
Windows users warned of infectious Web sites that take over computers; Mac users unaffected – June 25, 2004
Windows Korgo virus ‘aggressively stealing’ credit card numbers; Macintosh unaffected – June 04, 2004
First Windows 64-bit virus appears; Macintosh unaffected – May 27, 2004
Windows Wallon virus wipes out Microsoft Media Player on infected PCs; Macintosh unaffected – May 12, 2004
Windows Sasser worm mutates, knocks out banks, EC; Macintosh unaffected – May 04, 2004
Windows Sasser worm severely disrupts UK coastguard; Mac users remain unaffected – May 04, 2004
Windows Sasser net worm spreading rapidly; Macintosh unaffected – May 03, 2004
Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Apple Mac-based office totally unaffected by viruses – March 22, 2004
Five new Windows Bagle virus variants break nasty new ground; Macintosh unaffected – March 19, 2004
Windows worm, virus outbreaks intensify; Macintosh unaffected – March 03, 2004
Destructive MyDoom.F virus deletes Windows users’ files; Macintosh unaffected – March 01, 2004
Netsky-D Windows worm spreading; Macintosh unaffected – March 01, 2004
Windows users suffer five new Bagle worm variants; Macintosh unaffected – March 01, 2004
New MyDoom Windows worm deletes random files; Macintosh unaffected – February 25, 2004
Windows NetSky e-mail worm spreading; Macintosh unaffected – February 18, 2004
Windows virus ‘Bagle.B’ spreading; Macintosh unaffected – February 17, 2004
‘Doomjuice’ worm emerges, targets Microsoft; Macintosh unaffected – February 10, 2004
New version of Mydoom Windows virus appears, attacks Microsoft; Macintosh unaffected – January 28, 2004
Latest Windows virus ‘MyDoom’ sets new infection records worldwide; Macintosh unaffected – January 27, 2004
‘MyDoom’ Windows virus spreads rapidly; Macintosh unaffected – January 26, 2004
New Windows worm spreading ‘hard and fast’ worldwide; Macintosh unaffected – January 19, 2004
Florida students patch 360 PCs in marathon session due to Blaster virus; their Macs unaffected – October 01, 2003
Pennsylvania school district’s PCs infected with virus; their Macs unaffected – October 01, 2003
New ‘Swen worm’ masquerades as Windows Security Update; Macintosh unaffected – September 19, 2003
University of Illinois still patching all Windows machines; Macintosh unaffected – September 05, 2003
Montana school district’s Windows computers offline due to worm; Macintosh computers unaffected – September 03, 2003
A tale of two school systems: Windows schools crippled while Mac schools unaffected – August 21, 2003
SoBig virus variant rapidly inflecting Windows machines; Macintosh unaffected – August 19, 2003
Windows Blaster worm to attack Microsoft on Saturday; Macintosh unaffected – August 13, 2003
MBlast Worm spreads through flaw in Windows; Macintosh unaffected – August 11, 2003
Hackers hijack Windows PCs for porn serving; Macintosh unaffected – July 11, 2003
Palyh Worm strikes Windows users worldwide; Macintosh unaffected – May 19, 2003
Microsoft bug exposes millions to attack; Macintosh unaffected – November 20, 2002

48 Comments

  1. Long-time Mac users shoud remember this happened to Apple once… but it wasn’t a deliberate infection (Apple’s production lines weren’t targeted) and it was a minor virus. It was a very long time ago — at least 20 years if my memory is right.

      1. Cromwell, as an Apple user since my Apple II, I seem to recall not the machines infected when opened, but I do know there were cases of commercial software that had viruses on them. One popular brand name card game infected your Mac Plus/SE/SE30 when you installed the game from a new, shrink wrapped copy. I’m not sure I remember factory machines though ever being affected like the article said.

        1. the software you’re talking abouts name is in the tip of my brain… Can’t quite remember… It wasn’t Klondike was it?

          It was a HUGE solitaire dev for Apple… I think they had a ‘court jester’ as the logo… This was early 90’s

      2. I tried, but that was pre-web and I don’t find much. (It’s very hard to search by date range, like between certain years. Someone ought to invent a search engine that lets you do that!)

        My memory is pretty clear on it though — it was one production line where the master disk got infected and maybe a few thousands Macs were shipped with the virus installed. This must have been System 6 days, so it was probably an INIT virus (installs itself during startup). I don’t remember it doing anything harmful — back then viruses were mostly of the prank kind — and Apple quickly made changes to prevent that from ever happening again. (Back then computer viruses were a new concept.)

            1. I don’t know where you’re getting your info from but, the Mac NEVER shipped with malware. That would have been news to remember!

              Prior to 1987, the only virus to hit Apple, was written by some school kid and infected the Apple ][ boot sector. After every 50th boot, a poem would appear, or some such. We all remember that one.

              There was the nVir virus in 1987, that infected the Macintosh and was deployed via floppy.

              There were malware issues with Hypercard and Microsoft word macros in the Nineties but they were relatively benign.

              (Back then computer viruses were a new concept.)

              No they weren’t. Apple ][ had its share of malware for years, before Mac came along. Commodore and Tandy were also targets.

              The Elk Cloner virus predates IBM PC viruses!

    1. Yeah, the AutoStart Virus…. It was actually a small program (applet?) that let CDs play on insert. It added some functionality, but was poorly written and exploitable. Seem to remember a small window in 1996 when It came on every CD from many companies.

    1. OEM installed viruses!!

      How convenient!

      If you’re a WinDOS user, you’re going to get a virus so you may as well get it done once, done right and by the OEM as an original feature!

    1. ARGH! That insane idea that Skynet was started as a virus was shoved in by the clueless hacks responsible for the third ‘film’, and was never really the case based on either original canon or basic common sense.

  2. Easy now…. the next headline could be that once they are done targeting PC and Mac’s are next in line. Nothing new here as Windows is the bigger of the 2 targets. Viruses and TJs have always targeted the most relevant platform that being Windows, but there are now 66 million OSX users so we are becoming relevant albeit a far cry from the 1.9 billion windows users but relevant nonetheless.

    Anonymous will target iOS as it is definitely relevant and will other groups and yes right at the manufacturing level. Ask yourself this question, who oversees the final products coming our of China to ensure that we are not being bugged?

      1. As already pointed out on this board, iPods were once shipped pre-loaded with malware. And things like digital photo frames have been shipped infected several times. No-one is completely secure.

    1. Every terrorist in the cowardly “anonymous” cabal needs an appointment with Old Sparky. Or at least 25 to life in the SHU at Pelican Bay. Guantanamo Bay would be even better…

    2. Just like most operating systems, OS X and iOS can’t be hacked in any real way because they’re actually secure(that’s what happens when your programmers aren’t drooling idiots).

      It isn’t an accident that the only malware threats out there in the wild for OS X/iOS are just trojans.

  3. It’s an Apple conspiracy!

    Apple employees are being sent to work for Dell, HP, and Lenovo in order to cripple PC sales.

    I think its working. Who can argue that PC sales have slumped, while Mac sales continue to set records.

  4. “The wow starts now. If you haven’t already done so long ago, get a Mac.”

    Yes, get a Mac you all.

    But if you insist on getting a Windows PC, make sure it is free of viruses before turning it on. Good lu….. Wait….

    Just get a Mac. What was I thinking!?

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.