A Microsoft report has revealed that malware can be detected on PCs before they even make it off the production line, leaving users susceptible to cybercrime from day one.
Last summer, tests conducted by the vendor's Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) in China on 20 computers showed that some were infected with the Nitol virus, which can aid online theft, while still in production. Of the 10 laptops and 10 desktops examined, four other malware files were detected.
The DCU has been given permission by a US court to disrupt the malware in what Microsoft has named "Operation b70".
In a blog post, Microsoft's Richard Domingues Boscovich, assistant general counsel at the DCU, said the malware was easily transmitted to other devices.
"The study confirmed that cybercriminals preload malware-infected counterfeit software onto computers that are offered for sale to innocent people," he added.
"Making matters worse, the malware was capable of spreading like an infectious disease through devices such as USB flash drives, potentially causing the victim's family, friends and co-workers to become infected with malware when simply sharing computer files."
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