Hackers installing viruses onto computers before they leave factories, warns Microsoft

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Investigators at Microsoft have discovered Cybercriminals have put a new plot into action through which they have installed malware onto 1 in 5 desktop and laptop computers before they have left the production-lines of Chinese factories.

The viruses were found while investigators for Microsoft bought 40 computers from 10 different Chinese cities in an investigation into the sale of counterfeit computer software.
As stated by one of the investigators, Richard Domingues Boscovich “we found malware capable of remotely turning on an infected computer’s microphone or video camera, potentially giving cybercriminals eyes and ears into the victim’s home or business.”

One of the viruses to be uncovered by Microsoft researchers was the vicious, Nitol software which offers hackers the potential to steal personal information and penetrate online bank accounts.

Last week Gerald Bruce Lee, a judge at a U.S. court granted Microsoft permission to take over the 3322.org domain and if necessary close the botnet which has been directly linked to the Nitol virus.

The domain is owned by a Chinese business man Peng Yong and has supposedly been engaged with cybercrime since 2008, yet Mr. Yong has been recorded to state that his company has a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal activity on his domain.

In an interview with AP News, Yong remarked that “our policy unequivocally opposes the use of any of our domain names for malicious purposes.”

Yet he also admits that due to the sheer scale of users, some criminals could have potentially slipped through the net undetected.

Yong states, “we currently have 2.85 million domain names and cannot exclude that individual users might be using domain names for malicious purposes.”

In essence, this is a frightening episode for even the safest online users, as Mark James, ESETS technical team leader reiterates, “if the machine is already infected and talking to the outside world the user may be unaware and accept any strange occurrences as normal for a new machine.”