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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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  • Brilliant (Score:5, Funny)

    by Slimnaper (971797) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:56AM (#16536536)
    When I first heard about this, I thought brilliant. What better way for Apple to demonstrate how prone to viruses windows machines are, than to put a virus on an ipod that only affects windows machines.
  • Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NineNine (235196) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:58AM (#16536552)
    Who cares how it happened? It's Apple's problem. It's Apple's fault. End of discussion. Apple's comment was childish and absolutely un-called for. Apple should apologize publically, announce that they will improved their QA, and move on.
    • by thestudio_bob (894258) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:10AM (#16536650)
      Yeah, Apple should now come out and say how they made huge quality control improvements by removing all Window's machines from their production line and replaced them with Mac's and Linux machines. Brilliant!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NineNine (235196)
        Again: who cares? It doesn't matter what they use to make their products. The point is that the end product not only should work, but should NOT cause additional damage to other products that people already own.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jbengt (874751)
        They said they use the MS Windows machines to test compatibility issues, doesn't sound like they could get rid of them completely, as long as there's a need to connect iPods to macines with MS OSs.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It is Apple's problem and was a bit childish, but that doesn't neutralize their point.

      I've never had a virus on any personal machine, and the only ones I've ever had happen were 0-day expolits that were impossible to prepare for in a permissive network environment (i.e., where the ones transmitting viruses were folks I *HAD* to give permission to, or shut down the program in its entirety...and we have killed areas of our business where we couldn't provide the service AND securely provide for our clients).

      At
    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:20AM (#16536718)
      From www.apple.com/support/windowsvirus [apple.com]:
      We recently discovered that a small number - less than 1% - of the Video iPods available for purchase after September 12, 2006, left our contract manufacturer carrying the Windows RavMonE.exe virus. This known virus affects only Windows computers, and up to date anti-virus software which is included with most Windows computers should detect and remove it. So far we have seen less than 25 reports concerning this problem. The iPod nano, iPod shuffle and Mac OS X are not affected, and all Video iPods now shipping are virus free. 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.
      I don't see anything childish about that. Maybe if you selectively edit a quote from the above by removing it from its context, you can get something arguable. But in context, no.

      For those that do not think Windows viruses are a big problem, consider my experience as a tech. I re-install Windows on clients computers due to viral infections at least once or twice a week. Generally these are older computers they have not had me work on and have failed to heed my advice w.r.t. needing anti-virus software on a Windows computer (same does not apply to the Mac OS X computers I work on). You know what really sucks, once the anti-viral software is installed and made effective (auto-scanning of every file that is touched) the whole system slows down. What could have been a relatively fast Windows computer is made slower just by having to have commercial anti-virus software (don't talk to me about OSS solutions, these installs have to be idiot proof with auto-scheduling, active scanning, and so on). Argh.
      • by fossa (212602) <pat7@Nospam.gmx.net> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @12:41PM (#16537322) Journal

        I disagree; it's very childish. Any adult should know it's "fewer than 25 reports", not "less".

    • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:35AM (#16536812) Journal
      Therapist: "Okay, now it is time to address frustrations. Mac, express a frustration about PC. "
      Mac: "I'm really upset that you proved vulnerable to the virus we somehow loaded onto our flagship product."
      Therapist: "I see. PC, express a frustration about Mac."
      PC: "Mac, Why did you try to get me sick in the first place?"

      Therapist: "Mac, maybe you'd better come in twice a week to deal with your anger-displacement issues."

      • I think you mean:

        Therapist: "Okay, now it is time to address frustrations. Mac, express a frustration about PC. "
        Mac: "I'm really upset that you loaded a virus on our flagship product when we connected it to you for QA testing."
        Therapist: "I see. PC, express a frustration about Mac."
        PC: "Mac, Why did you use me for QA testing in the first place?"

        Therapist: "PC, maybe you'd better come in twice a week to deal with your anger-displacement issues."
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by contrapunctus (907549)
      You're right, everybody should move on. And the rest of the sentence you refer to reads:
      "...and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it." which should take care of the rest of your points.
  • Daaamn! (Score:4, Funny)

    by commisaro (1007549) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:59AM (#16536556) Homepage
    Oh SNAP! Steve Jobs got TOLD, son. Damn, that burn was off the heezy, fo'-sheezy! Now he needs to come back with "Yo, Poon. I improved your MOM's quality control." HOT DAMN!
  • Um, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 22, 2006 @10:59AM (#16536568)
    Only a very small number of a specific model of iPod were affected by these Windows viruses. The entire blame rests with the factory making the iPods for Apple and putting the software image Apple prepared in advance not following good practices with respect to how they set up the empty drives before Apple's software went on them. The problem has been entirely fixed and you cannot even buy one of these infected iPods in the retail market today.

    In other words, this is old news. And the size of the problem (the number of units affected) was so small, I would put good money down that we would not even know about the existence of this Windows virus problem if Apple had not disclosed it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Would that Apple had simply said what you said, rather than tossing out the cheap-shot against Windows. It's that cheap-shot that blew this thing out of proportion.
  • by Channard (693317) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:03AM (#16536606) Journal
    .. when you outsource your operations to McDonalds.
  • by ummit (248909) <scs@eskimo.com> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:18AM (#16536696) Homepage
    Apple shouldn't have seemed to blame Microsoft, it's true. That's gotten the Windows partisans all riled up, although if you read what Apple wrote, they didn't explicitly blame Microsoft, just expressed annoyance -- and they expressed more annoyance with themselves for not noticing.

    And everybody's blaming them for not noticing. But if you think about it, it was a pretty absurd thing for them to have had to "notice". As I understand it, the virus was implanted by one infected machine among a number of machines at a Chinese manufacturing shop they'd contracted iPod manufacture to. Apple said, "here's a thing that looks like an external disk: please put these bits on it for us". A simple and straightforward enough task, one would think -- but in a world where autorun exists and is or has been enabled by default, perhaps not so straightforward.

    It's as if I had a letter to mail to 1000 of my customers, and I took one original down to my friendly print shop and asked them to make 1000 copies, and I or the print shop used an automated machine to fold the 1000 copies and stuff them in envelopes and mail them, and only after they were mailed out and opened by my customers did we start discovering that for some strange reason 1% of them had "FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE" overprinted on page 2. And then found out that the "strange reason" was that one of the copy machines at the print shop, among the several that the print shop divided my job among, was "infected" by a "virus".

    If that happened to me, I'd be annoyed, too. (It'd be even more annoying if I were accused of ignorance for not having protected myself against this "obvious" threat, that evidently everybody else knows about and makes allowances for.) And I know my response would not be to ask the print shop to be more careful next time, or to run an "antivirus" soluton, or something. I'd take my business elsewhere, and more importantly insist that my future printing contractors use a different brand of copier, one that's not susceptible to preposterous failure modes like that, because even if there is some alleged way of papering over that particular flaw, who knows how many other equivalently egregious bizarre flaws it's got that haven't been discovered and papered over yet?

    • by laird (2705) <`lairdp' `at' `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 DingerX (847589) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:39AM (#16536848) Journal
      The buck stops with the label on the cover. Sorry, whoever you contract to do stuff with is your business; when you're selling something with your trademark on it, any problems are between YOU and the CUSTOMER. In Apple's case, their problems are between APPLE and the CUSTOMER. Blaming third-parties, whether those contracted to, or those completely uninvolved (Microsoft), is just unprofessional. I know Apple was itching to score points at an easy target like Microsoft, but guys: this is a screwup, APPLE's name is on the front, not whatever podunk assembly in the Hunan Province, and not Microsoft. Even a "minor" attack like, "Bad Microsoft, Worse Us" is out of place in PR copy. Leave that bit of trollwork to professionals, like Dvorak.
      • by ummit (248909) <scs@eskimo.com> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:48AM (#16536922) Homepage
        The buck stops with the label on the cover... any problems are between YOU and the CUSTOMER.

        Absolutely agree. So the remaining question is: aside from the ill-advised potshot, has Apple done right or wrong by those customers? Have they (a) disavowed all responsibility, told customers it's their problem, told them to go talk to the "podunk assembly plant in Hunan Province" if they need help, or (b) done everything they can to mitigate and prevent future recurrences of the problem?

    • by RonnyJ (651856)
      If Apple didn't impose stringent enough checks on their contracted manufacturers, then yes, it is partially their fault.
    • by Zebra_X (13249)
      This is crap.

      "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." What part of that sentence has nothing to do with the issue at hand? OH WAIT, it is the part where they accuse Windows of not being "hardy" against a locally run EXE file. OH HA, ok, that makes it all better now doesn't it? How can you make a computer more "hardy" against locally run programs, especially ones that originate from a presumably trus
  • Reality check (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mattr (78516) <mattr@teleb[ ].com ['ody' in gap]> on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:25AM (#16536742) Homepage Journal
    It's not just the iPod, viruses on shipped hardware seem to be getting more common. For example see below. Can't give other documented articles, but remember similar cases this past year. Anyone? The swipe at Microsoft sounds a lot like Jobs, looks like his personality has infected the company too. But Apple could win this by instating new controls over subcontractors and making a PR campaign in which they force them to use Macs or otherwise emphasize steps they've taken to minimize infection from Microsoft-based hardware. :)

    Quote from article [digitalmusicnews.com]:

    Earlier, McDonald's and Coca-Cola faced a similar problem in Japan during an MP3 player giveaway, though the events are unconnected. The iPod virus only affects Windows machines, and does not alter the behavior of the portable device itself or Mac operating systems.
  • by ajs318 (655362)
    The blame for this lies entirely at the feet of Microsoft.

    Who created the Operating System which will execute arbitrary code -- for that matter, arbitrary code which ought to require administrator privileges -- without the say-so of the user? Microsoft did.

    That is the problem. For sure, they had a reason to do that -- they wanted to hide "difficult" decisions from the user in order to make their operating system beginner-friendly. Their model seems to be "Programmers know what they are doing, users d
    • by mh101 (620659)

      The blame for this lies entirely at the feet of Microsoft.

      Who created the Operating System which will execute arbitrary code -- for that matter, arbitrary code which ought to require administrator privileges -- without the say-so of the user? Microsoft did.

      Uh, yeah. Apple somehow let their product get shipped out with a virus on it, and it's Microsoft's fault, because their software is the what the virus targets? As much as I dislike Microsoft and Windows, it's not their fault that someone planted a

      • by ajs318 (655362)
        I still say it's Microsoft's fault. Their operating system is insecure from the ground up; it's not fit for the purpose for which it is sold.

        Suppose a company made central heating boilers that could be made to explode by plugging the condensate drain -- which, in most buildings, is on the outside, with the air intake and exhaust. Now in actual fact the problem would most likely be with the sequence controller (since a blocked condensate drain is usually detected by interfering with the flame sense) wh
      • Well, Microsoft shouldn't have autorun enabled by default. But it is still is the fault of Apple, or the company they contracted the job to.
  • Simple fix (Score:5, Funny)

    by kop (122772) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @11:38AM (#16536840)
    I used to work for a small company that made CD-ROM's
    Only after we recieved 3000 copies of our free handout Amsterdam nightlife CD-ROM did we discover that there was a windows virus on all of them.
    We simply slapped a "MAC only" sticker on them and handed them out!
    • by mh101 (620659)
      How did the virus get on there? Did you guys discuss it with whoever made the CDs for you? Do you still do business with that company?

  • Microsoft will ship it's upcoming media player "Zune" with Mac OS 7 (or System 7) viruses, trying to prove that Mac users (of 10 years ago) are susceptible to viruses and that it's all Apple's fault for how they got on there and how insecure the Mac OS really is.
    • Knowing how Microsoft do things, they'd probably try to prove how insecure OS X is by including some Office trojans.

  • Did somebody miss the real news story?

  • How exactly can a Windows virus jump from a Windows computer on to an iPod (completely different architecture), then back onto a Windows computer? Is there some MAJOR similarities between the two architectures, or is it that there's absolutely no way this could have been an accident?
    • by colmore (56499)
      Ipods configured on Windows machines are formatted in a Windows-compatible format (I'm about 90% sure it's Fat32). This is also the format of choice for iPods connecting to non-OS X machines in general.

      Apple's QC really really should have caught this, but it's also pretty horrendous that removable storage can be automatically infected by and automatically execute any binary. I'm something of a systems guy, and I really don't have any idea how I would go about purposefully doing something like that on a Un
  • by Quantam (870027)
    "As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses..."

    In other words: don't blame me, she was asking for it!
  • The whole thing is sort of stupid. It is Apple's fault, it is their product and by selling it to you took responsibility to support it. An example is the Dell battery recall; Sony produced the defective batteries, but it is Dell's responsibility to provide a recall system since they sold you the laptop.

    Apple is keeping mum about it; there is a link from the main support page, but it's pretty small. But this is just stupid:
    "As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against s
    • Bad analogy (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Space cowboy (13680) *

      That is like ford saying "A limited number of tires on Mustangs will spontaneously fail, causing a serious accident. As you might imagine, we are upset at drivers for not being more durable during such a crash, and even more upset at ourselves for not catching it"

      Apple are *not* blaming the users of the ipod (the "drivers"), they are expressing some anger at the ultimate cause of how it happened ("the tire manufacturers"), and you better believe that if tires started randomly blowing out on cars, and ther

  • Although it wasn't many people, so it probably won't happen, this sounds like a perfect lawsuit. Like a computer version to having pieces of glass in your food...... Sounds like it could be won if damages occurred. Apple is lucky it wasn't worse, or this could have become a legal problem for them.
  • lame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cosminn (889926) on Sunday October 22, 2006 @01:02PM (#16537474) Homepage
    Common, your product gets infected because of some slopiness, and you blame another company??

    If Jobs doesn't like it, then stop making the iPod work on Windows. How would he like it if all of a sudden the iPod would be "disabled" by MS? He'd sue the living hell out of them (and for good reason).

    Take the responsability for the screw up and fix it.
  • Obviously Windows shouldn't be used in a production environment, given its susceptibility to this sort of thing. The real mistake was Apple allowing their contractors to use unprofessional tools. In the future hopefully they'll insist on the use of Macs or Linux, or embedded systems.

    Begs the question (in my mind) of how much it costs our economy to be reliant on Windows.
  • 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.
  • Don't you think it's the same kind of situation?
    A small number of shipped product managed to get shipped infected with E.Coli.

    The spinach company regrets that certain people were not more hardy to E.Coli infestation and regrets them not figuring it out before it happened.

    Yet for some reason I don't see people defend them. I wonder why. Maybe because love for Mac stuff is bigger than love for Spinach :)

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