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Russian Malware Found On Government Issued Laptops For Children

Mon Jan 25 2021

Teachers have discovered Russian malware on laptops issued to children to help with their home schooling

It’s recently come to light that Russian malware, specifically the Gamarue.I worm, has been found on Government laptops that have been issued to vulnerable children to help them with their home schooling.

The malware was been seen contacting Russian servers after teachers in Bradford raised the issue in an online forum.

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Upon unboxing and preparing them, it was discovered that a number of the laptops were infected with a self-propagating network worm.

Marium Haque - Deputy Director of Education & Learning, Bradford Council

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Others on the forum helped identify the malware, a self-propagating network worm called Gamarue.1 which Microsoft first identified back in 2012.

It’s capable of downloading and installing spyware on infected devices to harvest confidential information about users including passwords, banking details and browsing history.

But… Cyber Security experts have confirmed it isn’t capable of hijacking a user’s microphone of webcam.

 

The UK Department of Education (DfE) have confirmed they’re urgently investigating to identify how it’s happened and how many devices may have been sent out with the malware.

The DfE have said it’s not a widespread issue and, in all identified cases, the malware was deleted when the schools first booted up the devices.

They continue to say that their IT teams were in touch with those who’d reported issues and that they’d continue to look out for further reports of malware.

 

Since the original lockdown, over 800,000 laptops have been issued to schools as part of a centralised effort to support disadvantaged pupils lacking the ability to get online from home. 

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There are many local and national schemes which have been implemented to try and provide devices for school children in an attempt to keep as many as possible engaged in some form of education during school closures and lockdown measures. Whilst it is unclear where these particular laptops were sourced, it is absolutely vital that anyone seeking to source devices, whether they are bought using sponsorship or donated directly, be fully aware of the risk that they may contain dormant or active malicious software and research appropriate methods to make them safe before they are distributed to homes and families.

Brian Higgins - Security specialist, Comparitech

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Mon Jan 25 2021

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