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Malware found on laptops handed out to vulnerable children

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A misleading story published by the TES suggests that one in five of the laptops we have distributed to help pupils access education while learning from home may be defective.

These claims are completely contradicted by our own data which shows that less than 1% of the hundreds of thousands of devices delivered have been returned.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

“This survey is misleading. Our data shows that less than one percent of the devices delivered by the Department this academic year have been sent back in exchange for a new device, or had a manufacturer’s issue when sent. Every single laptop that we provide meets a set of minimum specifications set to enable children to learn remotely.

“We are fully committed to helping children access a high-quality education while learning from home, and refute any suggestion that implies otherwise.”

The Department for Education is investigating claims malware has been found on laptops handed out to vulnerable children in England.

In an email to school leaders, Bradford Council states: “We have been made aware of the following issue from a Bradford school. They have just received their final assignment of Windows laptops from the DfE. The laptops are Geo Geobooks 1E.

“Upon unboxing and preparing them it was discovered that a number of the laptops are infected with a self-propagating network worm (Gamarue.I). The network worm looks like it contacts Russian servers when active.”

The malware was discovered in an infected file which appeared to have been modified in December 2019 “shortly after the laptop was manufactured”. The DfE have confirmed that a few schools have reported this.

A DfE spokesman said:

“We are aware of an issue with a small number of devices.

“And we are investigating as an urgent priority to resolve the matter as soon as possible. DfE IT teams are in touch with those who have reported this issue. We believe this is not widespread.”

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