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PCs to developing world 'fuel malware'

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Programs to send PCs to third world countries might inadvertently fuel the development of malware for hire scams, an anti-virus guru warns.

Eugene Kaspersky, head of anti-virus research at Kaspersky Labs, cautions that developing nations have become leading centres for virus development. Sending cheap PCs to countries with active virus writing cliques might therefore have unintended negative consequences, he suggests.

"A particular cause for concern is programs which advocate 'cheap computers for poor third world countries'," Kaspersky writes. "These further encourage criminal activity on the internet. Statistics on the number of malicious programs originating from specific countries confirm this: the world leader in virus writing is China, followed by Latin America, with Russia and Eastern European countries not far behind."

But what about all the positive uses in education, for example, possible through the use of second-hand PCs in developing nations? We reckon these more than outweigh the possible misuse of some computers at the fringes of such programs.

We wanted to quiz Kaspersky more closely on his comments but he wasn't available to speak to us at the time of going to press.

A spokesman for Kaspersky Labs agreed that PC donation programs have benefits but maintained that in countries with "fewer legitimate openings" for work the possibility of "unintended side effects" can't be overlooked. He said that Eugene Kaspersky's comments should be viewed in the context of a wider discussion of criminal virus writing, contained in an essay on the anti-virus industry here. ®

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