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ACCORDING TO a Microsoft law suit, brand new computers in China are being delivered with forged software that’s already virus-infected.
It all began in 2011 as a study of counterfeit versions of the company’s Windows operating system in China. Investigators went to retail PC malls and bought 20 new computers, all of which turned out to have pirated versions of Windows.
What’s worse, four of the machines were pre-infected with the “Nitol” virus. This invasive software ties the infected machine into a “botnet,” a collection of compromised computers under remote control.
After examining thousands of Nitol samples, Microsoft says it traced them back to command-and-control servers associated with a single Chinese domain, 3322.org. Its owner denies any skullduggery; Microsoft disagrees; and thus the law suit.
My own modest contribution to this came when I was in Shanghai as part of Michelin’s 2004 Bibendum Challenge. We had minders, local college kids who helped us get around and maximize our time. Mine was a young lady, articulate in English, charming and fun. On various bus rides, we chatted about one thing and another, so I thought I’d bring up the question of intellectual property rights.
“Here’s an example,” she told me. “Your Microsoft Windows operating system costs $600, and we have many poor people who cannot afford this. So a group forms; it buys a Windows, makes many copies of it, and sells them for $60 a piece.”
“But what happens,” I asked, “if one of the group goes off, burns another bunch of copies and sells them for $40 a piece?”
“That’s against the law,” she replied. ds