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Chinese mini PC gets caught for shipping with factory-installed spyware

Reviewer catches factory-shipped spyware in a mini PC (Image source: The Net Guy Reviews)
Reviewer catches factory-shipped spyware in a mini PC (Image source: The Net Guy Reviews)
A YouTuber named The Net Guy Review recently received a mini PC for review from a Chinese brand called Acemagic. While everything appeared fine during the initial setup, a Windows Defender alert popped up when the reviewer was preparing to test the mini computer. The built-in antivirus software detected spyware that steals passwords, crypto, Steam accounts, and other sensitive user data.

One of the attractions of Chinese mini PCs is that they generally offer capable hardware for a budget-friendly price tag. You can even get an entry-level mini PC cheaper than an authentic Windows 11 product key, and the surprising part is that they ship with an activated OS installed.

This generally means these Chinese mini PCs don’t usually have genuine Windows installed. After all, authentic Windows licenses typically cost $100+, which would naturally increase the price tag of a mini PC (get a genuine Windows 11 key from Amazon). So, most systems ship with a pirated or modified operating system instead.

These Windows operating systems are risky as they can come with antivirus, spyware, and malware, which can even go undetected for a long time. But while many Chinese mini PC manufacturers check their system before shipping, there can be bad batches. If you pick a system from these batches, your personal information can get compromised.

That’s basically what has happened to a YouTuber named The Net Guy Review, who was sent the Acemagic AD08 mini PC for reviewing but found that it allegedly came with factory-installed spyware. The first Windows Defender alert pointed out that the spyware was residing in the recovery partition of the system. After a full PC scan, the reviewer claims that he found multiple infected files in the C drive.

With further investigation, the reviewer says he discovered that the mini PC had Redline Stealer malware. It can steal browser passwords, crypto wallets, steam accounts, and sensitive data. This wasn’t an isolated case, though. The reviewer says that he contacted friends who bought systems from the same manufacturer and found two similar cases.

When the reviewer contacted Acemagic, the Chinese mini PC maker confirmed that those systems were from a particular batch that got compromised and was apologetic about the matter. The manufacturer assured the reviewer that the next batch resolved the issue and is now shipping clean mini PCs.

Besides informing the viewers about the problem, the reviewer has provided multiple tips on how to be safe with affordable mini PCs. You should check them out from the video attached below.


The Net Guy Reviews on YouTube (embedded above)

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2024 02 > Chinese mini PC gets caught for shipping with factory-installed spyware
Abid Ahsan Shanto, 2024-02-10 (Update: 2024-02-10)