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Microsoft Discovers Malware On Brand New Computers

It is not uncommon for us to find malicious software on our computer even though we have the latest security measures in place. The cyberspace that we access on a regular basis is teeming with malicious software and even if we have the latest security measures in place, our computers are bound to have one or more of these codes. But that does not mean the virus, botnet, malware, spyware, or any other type of malicious software on our computers will be active. The anti-virus and other security measures will ensure that they are dormant and will not cause any problem.

However, malicious software on a new computer is a very dangerous and tricky issue. This is exactly what officials from Microsoft are faced with. They have found that brand new computers from a supply chain in China are infected with potentially dangerous software even before the consumers use it for the first time.

A Botnet Called Nitol

Microsoft officials found that the virus on the new computers was a something that they could not instantly identify as its behavior was a little unpredictable. For this reason, they shipped one of the computers to their research centers where, after weeks of study and analysis, researchers revealed that this was a type of botnet. This was not all and the researchers believed that they had come across this type of botnet previously and this particular type was code named ‘Nitol’.

Findings Of Operation B70

Officials from Microsoft said that they were already suspicious of new computers being infected by potentially dangerous software even before they were turned on for the first time by consumers. That is the reason why they undertook the sting operation, code named operation B70. The objective of this operation was simple. Officials from the company would visit the stores or dealerships which were in question and purchase computers from them.

This operation started out way back in August, 2011. The culprits here were the dealers as they installed fake and non legitimate software on the computer to bring down the overall cost they bore on each model and yet sell it for the retail price. This increased their profit margins. The officials involved in operation B70 purchased 10 pieces of laptop and desktop computers from the suppliers in question.

What Is A Botnet?

A botnet is a type of malicious software that will turn your computer into a part of a larger network of computers and give the hacker who planted them control over all these computers. The same botnet will be installed on hundreds, if not thousands, of similar computers and the miscreant will have significant control over this network.

The applications of this methodology are many and varied. The miscreant can use this network to attack a secure network and hack through it. The advantage of having so many computers is that the hacker can use the combined computing power of all the computers on the network to hack, thus substantially reducing the time and effort required for a hack. There is also the possibility of using your computers to hack into banks and to perform other online crimes. When investigators try to find the perpetrator, they will zero in on your computer even though you have no idea about it.

Safeguarding Yourself Against Botnets

Botnets disguise themselves very well and you must make sure that your regular system scan includes all the sectors of your hard drive. It is not enough if you stop cookies/tracking online. Also, never visit sites that you feel might be dangerous. Another important lesson that we can learn from operation B70 is that you should always approach the official or authorized dealers to buy our computers to ensure that they are legal and most importantly, safe.

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