Cybercriminals are all about efficiency these days. And because waiting for people to visit unsavory web neighborhoods or click on suspicious emailed links are totally inefficient, they've come up with a clever plan: install malwares straight on PC production lines.
Microsoft has found malware on new computers its employees purchased in various cities in China as part of an investigation into the security of the supply chain. That finding led researchers to a botnet called Nitol and a court order giving the company permission to take technical measures to disrupt the botnet.
The effort, dubbed Operation b70, began in August 2011 when it decided to see if there was any merit to claims that counterfeit software and malware were being installed on computers by suppliers before they hit the retail shelves in China. So, the company had employees go into stores and buy 10 laptops and 10 desktop computers.
"We went into what they call 'PC Malls.' We wanted to get a sampling of what an average consumer in China would get," Richard Boscovich, assistant general counsel for Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit, told CNET in an interview today. "We were surprised how quickly we were able to find something to back up the suspicion."