Friday, March 14, 2008

Electronic Flu Epidemic

The big story running around the Associated Press network today is factory installed viruses. Virus infected out-of-the-box electronics, that is just purchases new, started showing up in homes as holiday gift items. Items included Ipods and digital picture frames, but any gadget that connects to your desktop or laptop is a potential hazard. All of the infected pieces have come from Chinese manufacturing plants.

The viruses range from seriously harmful to annoying. They get into your computer when you connect the device, usually the first time you plug it in. Viruses download from the device to your computer. The viruses steal passwords and make computers vunerable to hackers. Some are even setup to disable virus protection software.

Apple has posted a formal statement about the Ipod virus. Best Buy and Insignia have also come out with alerts regarding a digital photo frame. The viruses are so prevalent an pervasive that retailers are considering pulling Made in China devices that depend on a computer connection.

The view on the infections is that it’s due to a lack of quality control and not some evil plot. This is part of a bigger problem among Chinese manufacturing. These factories are contracted by corporations to produce goods fast and cheap. Companies that hire Chinese production need to demand greater quality control.

Consumers never really know what products will be tainted. Whether it is toothpaste, pet food or Ipods the only defense is to avoid.

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