Laptops Given to British Schoolkids Preloaded with Malware

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A shipment of laptops supplied to British schoolkids by the Department for Education to help them learn under lockdown came preloaded with malware, The Register can reveal.

The affected laptops, supplied to schools under the government's Get Help With Technology (GHWT) scheme, which started last year, came bundled with the Gamarue malware – an old remote access worm from the 2010s. The Register understands that a batch of 23,000 computers, the GeoBook 1E running Windows 10, made by Shenzhen-headquartered Tactus Group, contained the units that were loaded with malware. A spokesperson for the manufacturer was not available for comment. These devices have shipped over the past three to four weeks, though it is unclear how many of them are infected. It is believed the devices were imaged as they left the factory. One source at a school told The Register that the machines in question seemed to have been manufactured in late 2019 and appeared to have been loaded with their DfE-specified software last year. We have been shown emails sent to and from the Department for Education (DfE), which runs the GHWT scheme, flagging up concerns about the laptops. It appears that at least one school is formatting and reimaging the laptops from a known clean build before issuing them to pupils.
 
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