U.S. Official: Pre-infected Computer Technology Entering the Country

For those of us knee-deep in the antivirus and anti-malware arenas, I'm sad to say this isn't a surprise, but that doesn't mean it doesn't make me mad.

In hearings with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Greg Schaffer, a Department of Homeland Security Acting Deputy Undersecretary (National Protection and Programs) was grilled on what going on and what's being done about it.

One Representative, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said,
...the issue of software infrastructure (and) hardware built overseas with items embedded in them already by the time they get to the United States... poses, obviously, security and intellectual property risks.

"A, is this happening, Mr. Schaffer? And, B, what are we going to do to fight back against this...

"Are you aware of any component software (or) hardware coming to the United States of America that already have security risks embedded into those components?
The answer:
I am aware that there have been instances where that has happened.
The good stuff starts around 52:00.

What do we do about it as consumers?

Clearly, this is a case where you can't expect the a government--not just the U.S., but all governments of the world--to ever be able to police this. Ever.

It's categorically impossible.

The onus is on y-o-u.

What you can and should do is protect your PC and the information as best you can. Hardware firewalls and routers can be great, but they're only part of the picture.

A software firewall and modern, up-to-date antivirus software are another huge part of it. Nothing is perfect, and no antivirus software will catch every piece of malware under the sun; however, the best antivirus software does at least give you a fighting chance.

Whether it's digital picture frames, USB-based battery chargers, or hardware routers, there are definitely several well-documented cases of hardware entering the U.S. and other countries with different types of viruses or other malware.

Here's an MSN link with a bit more info on the pre-infected computer technology.


Worms in Samsung Digital Picture Frames??

Contrary to some reports that some Samsung 8-inch digital photo frames had worms, the frames themselves don't have worms but the installer discs do. (How's that for an unwanted Christmas present?)

As far as consumers are concerned, there's no difference.

A virus is a virus, and this is an unfortunate black eye for Samsung with their vast electronics / computer empire.

Trend Micro discusses this digital picture frame virus at their blog, and what we've learned now is that the Samsung's SPF-85H 8-Inch digital photo frame disc was infected with the W32.Sality.AE / Sality worm straight from the factory.

The bad news isn't that it's just infected with the worm, but that it's infected with a particularly nasty variant that includes a keylogger according to the folks at Sophos antivirus.

From what we've learned so far, this looks like, while definitely a nasty virus, it's one that all the best antivirus software already detects, so just make sure your definitions are up-to-date and that your software is running, and that should keep your computer safe.

Samsung has posted a clean version here: Samsung SPF-85H drivers.

If you purchased this frame (or got it as a gift), you can find more details here: Amazon Samsung picture frame advisory.