Unwitting Carriers

First the Sony-made batteries fried your laptop. Then the Red Ring of Death assaulted your XBox.

Now iPods are infecting your PC.

That’s the latest charge, this time from security consultants who claim companies like Foxconn and Flextronics aren’t doing enough to prevent workers from spreading — inadvertently or otherwise — computer viruses via a host of heretofore benign devices.

The Associated Press has learned of problems stemming from everything from the ubiquitous MP3 players to digital picture frames to navigation devices. Typical is the case where a factory worker — usually in China — uses company equipment for their own use and in doing so unwittingly passes along viruses from their own electronics to that of the company’s. When product is tested prior to shipping, the viruses replicate. The buyer plugs their new iPod into their PC, and presto: infection!

One consumer purchased a digital photo frame that was infected with four viruses, including one that steals passwords., the AP reports. Others claim finding bugs that surreptitiously disable users’ anti-virus software. Ouch.

It all adds up to another black mark on our industry; one that with a little bit of caution could be avoided.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (pcea.net). He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow