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pre-installed malware

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Pre-installed malware is malicious software that is put on a machine before it is delivered to the user.

New devices are usually assumed to be uncompromised but there are numerous reports of malicious software existing on new hardware. Malware may be installed on computing devices by disgruntled employees, organized crime figures, government officials or the manufacturer.

Pre-installed malware comes in many forms as standard malware, from fake applications to invisible spyware programs.

A few examples of pre-installed malware:

  • Android smartphones have been sold with pre-installed with a fake Netflix app that steals user credit card data.
  • Point-of-sale (POS) card readers have been delivered with pre-installed sniffer programs. 
  • USB drives and cameras given out as gifts at trade shows have had pre-installed Trojans that enable remote access to the recipients' computers.
  • SmartScreen in Windows 8.1 reportedly has pre-installed spyware that records every piece of software a user installs and has the capacity to disable software or hardware. 
  • According to its own report, the NSA (National Security Agency) routinely intercepts servers, routers and other devices being shipped overseas and builds backdoor surveillance technologies into them. 

 

See also: government Trojan

 

This was last updated in July 2014

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