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Finger Pointing Over iPod Windows Virus 293

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the pop-the-corn-and-grab-a-beer dept.
rs232 writes sent us some choice quotes in the finger pointing over the iPod's that recently shipped with a virus on them. "It's not a matter of which platform the virus originated [on]. The fact that it's found on the portable player means that there's an issue with how the quality checks, specifically the content check, was done," Poon wrote in a blog entry. and "Steve, if you need someone to advise on how to improve your quality checks, feel free to contact me 8)."
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Finger Pointing Over iPod Windows Virus

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  • Re:OK, I have to ask (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CDPatten (907182) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:12AM (#16536660) Homepage
    It happened because even Apple needs Windows at some point to make their products.

    Appearently they used an affected windows machine at some point in the IMAGE process, and the virus infected the image. Most likely the image is built/cloned using Windows, but I won't go into that since I'm already going to be flamed for speaking against apple.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:14AM (#16536674)
    Profit.

    More specifically, it's because both Apple and Microsoft need to cut corners on their products to make a suitable return.

    Microsoft ends up releasing low-quality software that has serious security glitches. Such glitches allow for malicious software to easily harm systems and propagate throughout networks.

    Apple, on the other hand, cuts down the quality of their hardware manufacturing processes. And with that decrease in quality, we see incidents like this happening.

    Notice that some of the highest quality and most secure software products are those developed by organizations that have little care for outrageous profit. I'm talking about OpenBSD, for instance. Instead of focusing on matters of financial accounting, they focus on putting out damn fine software. Security problems of this magnitude become a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for a project like OpenBSD, as they end up putting many measures in place to prevent repeats.
  • by laird (2705) <lairdp@@@gmail...com> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:38AM (#16536838) Journal
    From what's been announced, the disk duplication step of manufacturing was fine. Ironically, it sounds like the virus got onto the iPods as a post-manufacturing quality check where the manufacturer connected a few iPods to PC's to check them, and some of those iPods got infected from an infected PC. But this apparently affected a very small number if iPods.

    To keep this in perspective, in 1995, the first Word macro virus -- now called Concept -- was massively distributed by Microsoft on a CD-ROM called Microsoft Windows 95 Software Compatibility Test. The shipment went to hundreds of companies in August 1995. And MS has distributed viruses on CD's to huge numbers of their customers numerous times. (http://www.soci.niu.edu/~crypt/other/onestop.htm, http://www.f-secure.com/v-descs/wazzu.shtml [f-secure.com], http://pcworld.com/article/id,101930-page,1/articl e.html [pcworld.com]) So while I am sure that MS' quality control has gotten better, I think that MS isn't in much of a position to play "holier than thou" on the issue of distributing viruses in their products.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:39AM (#16536854)
    I can see the marketing material now: "Zune does not contain Mac viruses!" with no mention of the fact there are no significant mac viruses anymore.

    Even with that, there is something for all the Microsoft Zune supporters to be aware: Watch out or you might get Zuned! [michaelrobertson.com]

    --
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2006 @12:12PM (#16537124)
    But how is it an insult? It's pointing out a very real fact: Windows poorly handles malicious software. It may not be a fact that Microsoft or Windows fanatics are proud of, but nevertheless, it's still a fact.

    Suppose for the moment that you have a 2" erection. If a woman tells you, "piquadratCH, you have a small cock," then it is not an insult. The fact is that you do have a small penis, and her letting you know that is not an insult, even if it makes you feel terrible.

    Now, suppose that you have a 18" raging boner. If that same woman tells you again that you have a small cock, it's an insult. Why is it an insult? Because it completely contradicts the truth, which is that you do have a massive penis.

    I hope you can see the difference between insults and the truth. Had Windows been a system known for its extreme security, and Apple made the same comment, it would have been an insult. But considering how poor Windows security has been for two decades now, it's not an insult, and merely the truth.

  • by BillX (307153) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @12:17PM (#16537162) Homepage
    I remember picking up "The Giant Black Book of Computer Viruses" from the library in the early 90s; all of those listed pre-dated Windows. Apple is crying, "What? There are viruses?" as if this is some sort of recent development. What exactly am I missing?
  • by goombah99 (560566) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @12:27PM (#16537232)
    I've read that the underlying problem was more subtle, which might explain some of Apple's expressed frustration with MS. I can't confirm this but it may have been that the infected PC got the infection from a blank, formatted, drive from the drive manufacturer. Even if that is not true in this case, there is nothing stopping it from being true.
    It's a pretty subtle bug that, until now of course, I know would have bitten me since I would not have looked for it. I, and the technicians who do jobs for me, often replace burned hard drives in my clusters and computers with units straight out of the box. In some cases we have pre-formatted hot-swap spares still in the shrink wrap sitting on the shelf waiting to go in.

    On my macs and linux machines, I sometimes use external USB drives to share with Windows PCs. I don't usually reformat these specifically because I don't entirely trust that the macintosh disk formatting program will create a prisitine PC FAT format. In all likelihood it can, I just don't have the ability to know. And I have reason to doubt: past experience has shown that when one OS provider emulates another's native formats (e.g. Samba or UFS or HFS++ or ZFS or NFS) that the emulation is usually less than complete or has artifacts.

    It would be a major hassle and expense, to have to reformat every drive in a rack of clusters one is upgrading. But apparently that is now the requirement to be sure the manufacturer did not ship you a virus on the "blank" harddrive.

    The problem is perhaps more diabolical than it seems. Imagine some Apple engineer putting out some specs for the process standards the Chinese manufacturer must follow. He's paranoid they won't have good practices with keeping their windows boxes clean. He also wants to assure the peripheral performance is comaptible with the ipod loading software and to assure the integrity of the data transfers to the ipod. So he decides that the sure way to do this is to make absolutely certain the box has never been on the internet, and to spec every part, so the machine has to be built at the chinese factory from scratch. They then load in the special Apple approved Windows software CD with apples programs and data. Seems foolproof. But it's not.

    One might argue that to actually eliminate you have to boot from a trusted CD and then format the drives. But wait, this does not solve the problem. Isn't the problem of creating a trusted CD or and ipod install the problem we started out trying to solve? So one has to some how have a system that one can trust to do this. And that system has to be available to the manufacturer. It's kinds slippery.

    If you were about to suggest "well just use Linux" to format the drive, well then apparently you just emitted the same faux paux apple did. Blaming Windows for the problem.
  • Sounds so familiar (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @12:50PM (#16537374) Homepage Journal
    When I first read that quote from Apple it really gave me the creeps.

    I like Apple as a company too much to want to hear this kind of spin from them. I understand that they are embarrassed by having infected products going out to customers, but that doesn't excuse using that old Republican technique of trying to point fingers in order to deflect blame.

    For example, the GOP tried to pin the entire Foley/Page sex scandal on the Democrats and George Soros, but that appears to have backfired as most people dislike that sort of scummy avoidance of responsibility. If Foley isn't writing emails and IMs trying to get into the drawers of congressional pages, there's no scandal, period. Nothing the Dems or George Soros did afterward have any bearing on that fact.

    I don't want to see Apple doing that same sort of ugly spinning, but I guess that's what happens when the marketing people take over. I watched "Thank You For Smoking" last night, and the whole movie was about this very issue. It's a great flick by the way.
  • by fbjon (692006) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @12:56PM (#16537416) Homepage Journal
    Bullshit. Microsoft has got nothing to do with this. Nothing! What matters is that malware found its way onto the iPods during production. It doesn't matter what the malware was, what purpose it had, or for what platform it was designed.

    Putting Microsoft in the spotlight is shoehorning at best, and criminally hypocritical spin at worst, IMHO.

  • by xjerky (128399) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @03:09PM (#16538242)
    For one thing, though I just bought an 80GB iPod, this didn't affect me, since the first thing I did was attach it to my G5 at work, so it was re-formatted into HFS the moment I started up iTunes.

    But, I have to wonder why Apple prepares them on Windows machines in the first place. OS X has native support for FAT32 filesystems, so why not just prep them on OS X in the first place? And furthermore, why even have HFS iPods anyway? FAT32 iPods work fine on OSX.
  • by laird (2705) <lairdp@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 23, 2006 @01:00AM (#16542656) Journal
    "Except that Microsoft probably didn't blame the CD company for allowing a virus to be put on the CDs... "

    Actually, in http://pcworld.com/article/id,101930-page,1/articl e.html [pcworld.com] MS specifically blamed the company that they hired to translate their software into Korean for injecting the virus into the document that MS then distributed on the CD. So you're technically right that in that case MS didn't blame the CD duplication company, but they certainly passed the buck to a vendor.

    That being said, when reporting the details of how something like this happened, there's nothing wrong with documenting that a vendor introduced the virus, if that's what actually happened.

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