Thursday, 10 April 2008

Virus-infected 'iPod' MP3 players

Every so often a story goes around about some gadget that comes with a virus pre-installed/infected. The latest is that a researcher working for security software company Kaspersky bought an infected MP3 player. Judging by the photo on the company's blog entry the device in question is an Apple iPod. And certainly this would not be the first time that new iPods have been sold pre-infected, but I'm not so sure that this case involves real iPods. Look at the image below - the MP3 player certainly bears an Apple logo and the word 'iPod', but it looks nothing like any iPod I've ever seen advertised. Maybe one lesson we can learn here is not to buy counterfeit goods...


An infected 'iPod', which appears to be manufactured by some company other than Apple

The first time I heard about malware infecting new hardware was when a researcher at McAfee told me about an IBM flash drive containing the WYX boot sector virus. I reported the information when I worked for Computer Buyer magazine. Back in those dark and ancient days (2002) it was necessary to describe what a 'memory key' was - a removable storage device with a USB connection...

The story spread to sites such as The Register and Antionline, although my memory suggests that the issue had been known for some time by IBM, which had published a technical support document about the infection months earlier. The document in question has since migrated to Lenovo's website and was last updated two days after The Register ran its story, which was about a day after Computer Buyer ran mine, so I can't be sure exactly when IBM first learned of the issue.