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.]

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  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!?

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