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High Cost of Free

September 24, 2012 at 8:16 PM

High Cost of Free 

If you’re like me, you’re always on the hunt for a good deal. It’s even better if it’s free, right? When is free not as great a deal as you might think it is? According to Microsoft’s digital crime division, free can cost you your identity, your banking information and even let criminals into your home. 

The Scam

 Microsoft’s digital criminal investigators went to different cities in China and purchased 20 PCs, 10 desktops and 10 laptops. Four of the computers had malicious programs even though they were new right out of the box.

 It looks like cyber criminals are now targeting weak links in the computer supply chain and infecting computers with malware before they are boxed up and shipped to retailers.

 Buyer Beware

 That free piece of software that comes with your computer might not be what you think it is. Microsoft has discovered through its investigation that viruses were embedded with counterfeit software.

 You might think you are getting free antivirus protection right out of the box, but you may be getting more than you bargained for like the Nitol virus, which steals data from infected machines and sends it back to a command and control system created to collect your personal data, passwords, PIN numbers and other online banking and ecommerce information.

 The Damage

 Apart from stealing personal details, which assists cyber criminals access your online bank accounts, malware can open up your home to prying eyes. Richard Boscovich, a lawyer with Microsoft’s digital crimes unit wrote in his blog, “We found malware capable of remotely turning on an infected computer’s microphone and video camera, potentially giving cybercriminals eyes and ears into a victim’s home or business.”

  The best defense is a strong offence. You can protect yourself by not activating any free trial software that ships with your computer. Better yet, go to a secure source and get some computer security software that protects against viruses and spyware, secures online shopping and banking, protects your data from hacker attacks and stops annoying SPAM. 

Category: Featured Stories

Marc Arellano


Marc Arellano teaches communication at Okanagan College in British Columbia, Canada. He has worked as a technical writer, editor and copy writer.His current academic interests focus on computer-mediated communication and the effects of new media on culture.

Marc Arellano enseigne les communications au Collège de l'Okanagan en Colombie-Britannique. Il a travaillé en tant que rédacteur, éditeur et concepteur-rédacteur. Ses intérêts académiques actuels mettent l'emphase sur la communication au moyen d'un ordinateur et sur l'effet des nouveaux médias sur la culture.

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