Laptops Given to Vulnerable Children For Home-schooling During Lockdown Were Infected With RUSSIAN Computer Virus - Sparking Urgent Probe
An urgent investigation and clean up effort was started when Russian virus/worm has been discovered on laptops given out to school children. Laptops handed out to vulnerable children for homeschooling were found to be infected. Teachers and IT staff believe that the virus was contacting servers in Russia in order to manipulate the laptop software.
The virus called Gamarue.1 and first discovered in 2012 by Microsoft, is a worm capable of downloading malware and stealing user local information. Multiple tech firms identified the virus as a self propagating worm, capable of infecting other machines on the network. It can also copy itself onto USB drives, positioning itself dormant ready to infect other computers. The Department of Education said it was looking into the problem with immediate urgency, hoping that it is not widespread.
Gamarue.1 turned out to be an old virus from a number of years ago. It was one of the most prolific and dangerous worms that hit computers. If left untouched it can replicate itself very easily from USB to other computers. Its primary function is to cripple the Operating System, in order to harvest personal information, such as passwords, bank accounts and credit card numbers. Even though Gamarue.1 is very old it is still spreading and is often found on second hand computers. Often it is not enough to remove the virus using an anti-virus software. It is recommended to completely reinstall the Operating System from scratch or factory reset the computer found to contain this worm.
The IT reseller XMA and multiple other firms were contracted out to deliver thousands of computers to school children, with new contracts and deliveries yet to come. The Government has committed to delivering over one million laptops and tables to poorer children during the covid lockdowns. Children in lower economic circumstances and in great need of laptops and tablets in order to continue learning remotely during lockdowns. It is reported that a third of low-income households with kids do not have laptops in order to participate in remote schooling.
Pupils are forced to stay at home and learn using laptops remotely has opened a ‘digital divide’ between middle-class and low-income households. Struggling without computer access exacerbates the problems when technology is made available, but it is not usable due to viruses being present on new devices. According to surveys 40 percent of children in middle class homes are learning more than five hours a day compared to 25 percent in working class households.