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25 January 2008, 12:19

Infected digital picture frames on sale in US

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The US media report that over the holiday period electronics dealer Best Buy sold digital picture frames containing a virus in their internal USB store. No further information about the infection is available the time of publication. Insignia has confirmed the problem and says this is an old virus that tries to propagate itself when the digital picture frame is connected to a Windows PC to load up photographs.

It is thought to have got into the frames, branded as the Insignia NS-DPF10A, during the production process. The problem at Best Buy emerged in early January, but it was not made public until late last week. Neither Best Buy nor Insignia was prepared to say how many users now own an infected frame. They say that fewer than two dozen customers have so far returned their frames to the dealer complaining of a virus. Other customers are shortly to be informed and given specific instructions on what to do. Virus scanners with up-to-date signatures are supposed to be able to recognise the infection.

MP3 players and external hard disks that are shipped containing a virus are now a well known hazard, but infections on digital picture frames are a new phenomenon. The anti-virus specialist Sophos speculates in its blog that a lack of quality assurance could be among the causes of such occurrences. Many large manufacturers have their products made in China, it continues, where quality control is not of a very high standard.

Sophos recommends disabling all the autorun functions on the PC. Without them, no virus can execute automatically when a device is connected or a medium inserted. Care is still needed, since such devices often incorporate software installed in their store that the user has to run manually. A user may not immediately know what software forms part of the normal setup and what does not.

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