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    New York Times: Microsoft Finds PCs That Ship Pre-Infected

    The New York Times reports that Microsoft has found some computers are shipping with viruses installed that could affect the security and privacy of the data you save on those machines:

    On Thursday, Microsoft said it had discovered several new computers, fresh from Chinese factory floors, that carried a particularly pernicious computer virus — one capable of invading bank accounts, starting computer attacks and creating back doors that allow criminals to have their way with infected machines.

    Microsoft’s digital crime researchers purchased 20 new computers from different cities in China and discovered that four of them had been infected with viruses. […]

    That virus, called Nitol, reported back to a command and control center hosted by the Web domain, which is registered to Bei Te Kang Mu Software Technology. That domain, Microsoft’s researchers say, hosts 500 different strains of malware. Some are capable of switching on a victim’s microphone or Web camera. Others record victims’ keystrokes, giving cybercriminals access to their log-in credentials and online bank accounts.

    Microsoft got permission from a United States court to take down the network of Nitol-infected computers. The takedown was part of a civil suit brought by Microsoft in its increasingly aggressive campaign — called Project MARS, for Microsoft Active Response for Security — to take the lead in combating digital crime, rather than waiting for law enforcement to act.

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