Viral code could drive unprotected users to danger
Experts at SophosLabs, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have reminded users of the necessity to run up-to-date anti-virus software as internet reports reveal that some TomTom GO 910 satellite navigation devices for car drivers have been shipped with malware pre-installed.
An internet posting by British technology journalist Davey Winder contains a statement by the makers of the dashboard-mounted SatNav units acknowledging the incident, although at the time of writing there is no advisory on TomTom's website.
TomTom SatNav devices are Linux-based, and cannot be infected by the malware. However, Windows users who connect to the device via their USB port risk running the malicious code and infecting their desktop computers.
"There are a number of postings on the internet from TomTom purchasers asking for advice about the viruses, going back as far as September 2006," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "But they are the lucky ones who were running an anti-virus product and caught the infection before it could cause too much harm. What's more worrying is how many innocent consumers may be out there who don't know they might have passed an infection onto their Windows PC."
Experts at Sophos recommend that any storage device which is attached to a computer is checked for virus and other malware before use. Floppy disks, CD ROMs, USB keys, external hard drives and other devices are all capable of carrying malicious code which could infect the computers of innocent users.
Sophos notes that this is not the first time that manufacturers have accidentally distributed malicious code to their customers on hardware devices. In October last year it was discovered that some Apple video iPods had shipped with the Troj/Bdoor-DIJ Trojan horse, and that the Japanese subsidiary of McDonald's was recalling 10,000 MP3 players after discovering that a spyware Trojan horse was contained on the devices.
Sophos continues to recommend that computer users ensure their anti-virus software is up-to-date, and that companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can defend them from the threats of viruses, spyware and spam.