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If you purchased a new computer and it’s not running as fast as you would like, then it might not be your fault. In fact, a new report by Microsoft’s security team has shown that some PCs are infected with malware right out of the box.
Although these types of virus problems are rare, they’re not as rare as they were several years ago. According to the investigation, various computers delivered throughout China were infected with viruses from the factory. When consumers booted up their brand-new, pristine laptops, they were greeted with all of the normal signs of a virus. The laptops started looking for other computers on a malware network in an effort to create a botnet.
The virus was reportedly hidden deep within the computer’s hard drive. As soon as the computer was turned on, the virus was activated.
The day-one virus is called Nitol. Usually, Nitol infects computer users after they travel to an infected website. However, the fact that it is now appearing pre-installed on computers is worrying for consumers, to say the least.
Why is the Nitol virus so dangerous?
In addition to being installed on computers before they even leave the bubble wrap, the Nitol virus is dangerous for a number of other reasons:
-Turns your computer into one part of a botnet, which means your computer could be linked to illegal online activities without your knowledge
-Computer slowdowns, crashes, and freezes
-Extremely aggressive virus with a high infection rate
-Nitol can be spread after just visiting a URL
-Nitol can invade your privacy and steal personal data from your computer
It’s not all bad news for PC users
Fortunately for PC users in North America and Europe, the problem so far seems confined to China, where organized crime rings have infiltrated computer factories in an effort to stay one-step ahead of today’s best antivirus software. Instead of giving users a chance to install antivirus software on the first day they own the computer, these cybercriminals are taking hold of PCs long before they even come out of the box.
Another positive to come out of this case is the fact that Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against the criminal network suspected of spreading the zero-day malware. The group apparently used the website 3322.org, a notorious malware infection site that was responsible for 40% of all malware infections over the last year. Microsoft’s lawsuit names that site with the goal of having it blocked from the internet. Although it’s unknown how far this lawsuit will get, Microsoft’s digital crimes unit is dedicated to bringing those accountable to justice.
The court case is currently underway at a federal court in Virginia. If it’s successful, these preinstalled virus problems should (hopefully) become a thing of the past.