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Linux gadget infects Windows PCs?

Jan 29, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

In what appears to be a twist on the conventional wisdom that Windows systems are more vulnerable to viruses than Linux systems, some of TomTom's GPS navigation gadgets appear to have infected Windows PCs with a “low risk” virus.

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According to TomTom, an “isolated number” of Go 910 devices shipped last fall could infect Windows PCs when connected via USB, for example when backing up data to a PC. The company suggests fixing the problem by scanning the device's USB storage from a PC equipped with updated virus-scanning software, including free versions available from Symantec and Kaspersky.

From TomTom's description of the problem and its fix, it appears the devices carried infected files within USB storage, and that their Linux software stack was not itself infected.

TomTom Go 910

The infection seems to have been discovered and publicized by Davey Winder, a security professional and blogger at the DaniWeb security community. TomTom acknowledged the problem publicly on its website only after Winder began calling attention to the problem yesterday, according to Winder's DaniWeb post.

In an official acknowledgment posted on its website, TomTom discounts the danger presented by the viruses, calling them “extremely low risk” and claiming that “no cases of problems caused by the viruses are known.” Users can remove the viruses by updating or installing Windows virus scanning software, and allowing the programs to remove “host.exe” files, “copy.exe” files, “or any other variants,” it says.

TomTom shipped its original TomTom Go device in October of 2004, following up with Go 300 and Go 700 models in March of 2005. The Go 910 appears to be its current top-of-range model, selling for 270 Euros (about $350) in the U.K.

TomTom Go devices are based on ARM processors. Most models have mini-USB device ports that can be used to download new maps or backup trip data.

TomTom's acknowledgment letter can be found here. Davey Winder's original post exposing the infection can be found here.

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