Cyber-criminals are getting more creative by the day when it comes to ways of getting your personal data or using your computer for crimes, but have they gone too far this time?
Microsoft has found several PCs, manufactured in China, to have had malware installed by cyber criminals.
Microsoft’s digital crimes group came across the malicious software being preinstalled in an investigation into Chinese manufacturers around August 2011.
Researchers went ahead and purchased about 20 computers, to see if there really were viruses being pre-loaded. They found that almost 20 percent of the computers handled or moved by Chinese companies and manufacturers had some dangerous viruses, preloaded onto the system before being shipped to consumers.
One such infection was the Nitol virus, which "phones home" to the group of hackers running it to send away your personal data and other sensitive information, for their own profit.
This virus in particular was investigated into and found that it spreads infection in many ways, including the distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks, allowing a cyber criminal to run software on the victim’s computer and other dubious activities of questionable legal nature.
This virus was determined to have been developed to be spread through copying itself onto removable media including USB flash drives, external hard drives, zip/rar files, and more. This is extremely worrisome, as by just routinely copying files, or sharing a picture, you could be infecting somebody else with the virus, making it even worse.
“What’s especially disturbing is that the counterfeit software embedded with malware could have entered the chain at any point, as a computer travels among companies that transport and resell the computer,” said Richard Boscovich, assistant general counsel, of Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, in a blog post.
“So how can someone know if they’re buying from an insecure supply chain? One sign is a deal that appears too good to be true. However, sometimes people just can’t tell, making the exploitation of a broken supply chain an especially dangerous vehicle for infecting people with malware.”
Research into the Nitol virus over the past four years has found 500 different variants of the malicious software, hosted on many websites.
Even worse, the virus is able to remotely activate a computer's webcam and microphone- allowing someone with bad intentions to snoop into your everyday life and grossly violate your privacy. It can also record and send every keystroke on the computer.
These viruses pose a large security threat to your home or business, and extreme caution needs to be excercised now when even getting a new computer.
Be sure to take all of the right steps to secure your computer, or let me help you get a security solution set up.
Your home or business data security and privacy is just too important to leave to chance.