Virus poisons Apple iPod

Apple Computer has issued a warning to customers that some of its latest Video iPods have shipped with a Windows virus.

According to the company, less than one percent of Video iPods released after September 12 were infected with a Windows virus that Apple referred to as RavMonE.exe.

Apple believes the virus was unknowingly loaded onto the devices at one of Apple's China-based contract manufacturers. An Apple Computer Australia spokesperson said they were unaware if any of the affected iPods had reached Australian shores.

Sophos senior technology consultant, Sean Richmond claimed Apple's information about the virus was inaccurate.

"RavMonE.exe is the filename and not actually the name of any known virus," he said. "We don't know for certain what the virus is or what it does but it most likely would be a variant of the Windows32/jump worm."

The virus, which spreads via mass storage devises, is harmless to the iPod device but affects computers operating Windows.

Richmond said the use of external storage devices as a virus host was not a new thing but noted it was an emerging technique used by malicious parties to spread threats.

In a similar case this week, McDonalds Japan acknowledged it had unknowingly given out MP3 players that contained a variant of the QQpass spyware Trojan to over 10,000 customers. The devices were recalled and replacements issued to customers.

"Manufacturers and vendors need to employ more stringent guidelines to protect the devices they are selling to the public," Richmond said. "It's time for Apple to make sure this embarrassment doesn't happen again."

In a statement on its website, Apple publicly apologised for letting the virus slip through but also criticized Microsoft for Windows' vulnerability to viruses.

"As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it," Apple said in the statement.

Apple recommends that affected Video iPod owners restore their software on their newly purchased players using iTunes 7. Sophos has added to the warning that users should scan all external devices for threats before use.

Apple claims it has rectified the problem and Video iPods are now shipping virus free.

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