British schoolkids issued laptops conveniently pre-loaded with malware that connects with Russian servers

Why should the British Department of Education have to wait for students to visit dodgy porn and torrent websites to get their machines infected with malware when they can cut out the middleman and give them computers preinstalled with it?

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

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.

We've also seen online forums where Bradford school employees discuss the council contacting them on Wednesday to warn them of the problem, saying in an email: "Upon unboxing and preparing them it was discovered that a number of the laptops are infected with a self-propagating network worm … that looks like it contacts Russian servers when active."

After The Register posted the story, the Department of Education issued a statement:

"We have been investigating an issue with malware that was found on a small number of the laptops provided to schools as part of our Get Help With Technology programme.

"In all known cases, the malware was detected and removed at the point schools first turned the devices on.

"We take online safety and security extremely seriously and we will continue to monitor for any further reports of malware. Any schools that may have concerns should contact the Department for Education."