Naturally, when you buy a new PC, you expect it to be clean and safe, however, a Microsoft investigation has instead discovered that malware creators have begun to exploit insecure supply chains, inserting malicious payloads into computers before they even leave the factory doors.
The investigation had been triggered as an attempt to track-down and crack-down on the Nitol botnet, a network created through new malware that was designed to record and log private information, reporting back to a server on the internet as well as being capable of generating Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks, which are capable of crippling servers and services on the internet by using a consumer's computer to generate spam traffic.
Microsoft found that when buying PCs from an "insecure supply chain" in China, that 20 per cent of purchased hardware was infected, including not only computers but, flash drives as well. The firm also discovered malware capable of remotely turning on a PC's webcam and microphone for snooping of a more intimate nature.
Nitol's remote reporting has since been tracked-down to the domain 3322.org, which has now been seized by Microsoft following a request to US courts, however, the issue of insecure supply chains isn't going to go away overnight and, new consumers should perhaps apply a little caution when purchasing a new computer and, subsequently inspecting its software.
Certainly this all makes a great argument for building your own PC and ensuring that those new hard-drives and flash-drives receive a good low-level scrubbing before use.