Department for Education: Malware Misfortune

Recently there has been news circulating that a few of the Department for Education (DfE) laptops, that are being distributed to disadvantaged children to help with schooling, have had a virus on them. The government scheme enabled disadvantaged children to access lessons from the comfort of their own home during school closures across the country and there are currently over 1.2 million devices that have been distributed with the Department for Education being on track to meet its target of 1.3 million. The virus is called Gamarue.I and is a worm which had been previously identified by Microsoft in 2012. Gamarue is a malware botnet where infected devices communicate to Gamarue servers to harness click-bait fraud and steal confidential information such as credit card details. The virus was found to be contacting a server in Russia whilst active in a Bradford school.

What Do We Think?

We believe that because the DfE laptops were refurbished, there was a higher chance any malware could have been present but it unfortunately turned out to be Gamarue. However, you would think that wiping the data from the devices before delivery would be a standard procedure since they are for disadvantaged children. We at Advanced IT Services thankfully haven’t encountered any laptops with the virus especially since it only affected a minor number of laptops. Nevertheless, it is still invasive, infectious and one of the most severe malware strains still around today. One common way Gamarue penetrates your machine is through spam emails with attachments and it makes changes to browser settings add toolbars and even download files directly onto your machine’s registry. The best way, in our opinion, to get rid of such viruses is to completely wipe the devices or use a notorious anti-virus software such as Malware Bytes. However, Cyber Security is now a key part of any organisation and we can make the process of implementing it easier than ever before; find out how here.

Due to the sheer volume of devices and the lack of time and preparation, it is understandable that things may have been missed; everything, in retrospect, is obvious. However, it feels like the government is just throwing money at the Education sector and expecting everything to cope which is not the case. Every school and educational setting is different and all of the guidance given reflects that which is why it is so vague because the head of each educational setting should then determine how the advice can be applied to them. One the other hand, it has been an extremely difficult time for everyone but it has definitely changed a lot of perspectives on many different ideas such as working and education.