Most people are familiar with computer viruses and malware coming about through the opening of email attachments or visiting weird websites, but new threats may be attacking computers right at the moment users pull them out of the box.
As part of a computer fraud lawsuit initiated by Microsoft against a web domain registered to a Chinese businessman, the company revealed an incident in which a researcher discovered the Nitol virus on a computer in direct-from-factory condition. This means that the malware somehow made its way on to the laptop in the supply chain, a prospect that proves truly frightening.
The incident was revealed after court documents were unsealed Thursday in a Virginia federal court.
Microsoft says that its investigations of the Chinese web domain turned up a hub for Internet virus activity, including the Nitol virus and some 500 other types of malware. It was the largest store of viruses and malware the company ever came across.
According to Microsoft, the supply chain becomes unsecure when a reseller takes in stock from an uncertified source. In its investigation, the company said about 20 percent of the computers from unsecure supply chains turned up with malware already on them.