Microsoft finds fake Windows, malware on new PCs

Malware conceptMicrosoft has found new computers in China loaded with counterfeit versions of Windows and malware.

Investigators bought 20 computers from ‘PC malls’ in cities around China. All 20 came loaded with counterfeit versions of the Windows operating system and one-fifth also had pre-installed malware.

"The study confirmed that cybercriminals preload malware infected counterfeit software onto computers that are offered for sale," said Richard Domingues Boscovich, assistant general counsel for Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit.

Microsoft is worried about the use of counterfeit software to spread malware capable of stealing users’ information. Malware found by Microsoft is capable of recording keystrokes and moving from computer-to-computer via USB flash drives.

Efforts to tackle software counterfeiting in China have failed to stop many computers shipping with fake versions of Windows but Microsoft is taking a different approach to cutting malware.

A US court has given Microsoft permission to block operation of the malware network it found during its investigation. Microsoft expects the action to lessen the impact of the malware and free computers from the problem.

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