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New PCs infected with malware targets your cash

19 March 2014, 16:26 Duncan Alfreds

Cape Town - Criminals have increased their sophistication by implanting PCs with deliberate malware, a study has found.

According to a study conducted by IDC and the National University of Singapore, cyber criminals have begun loading pirated software on to PCs with an open "back door" that allows malware to compromise security and steal personal information.

The study, entitled The Link Between Pirated Software and Cyber security Breaches, found that new computers purchased from a variety of countries including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and the US were infected with malware.

Cybercrime has evolved over time as criminals focus on financial gain more than the cyber vandalism of the 1990s.

Computers that have malware pre-installed may prove to be a boost to criminals in that it may allow multiple machines to be used as part of a botnet - a group of computers under the control of a cyber criminal - and often used to attack company servers for ransom.

Financial information

Malware on new machines may also make antivirus software ineffective, leaving these computers open to attacks.

According to security firm Kaspersky Lab, malware targeted at mobile devices doubled in 2013 with around four million programs in use by criminals.

Much of the malware is aimed at stealing user financial information, says the report which also found that despite 60% fearing daa loss from PCs infected with malware, only 43% installed security updates.

"At Microsoft we appreciate that victims of software piracy are often regular customers simply looking for a deal, who are often paying nearly full price for what turns out to be malware-laden pirated software," said Zoaib Hoosen, COO at Microsoft South Africa.

The software company released the Link Between Pirated Software and Cyber security Breaches report as part of its Play It Safe campaign.

The study estimates that security threats will cost $500bn in 2014, with at least $364bn being spent for software breaches.

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