A number of electronics products made in Chinese factories have been found to contain viruses that steal passwords, distribute spam, and open up computers to hackers. For instance, digital picture frames sold at Sam’s Club contained a previously unknown virus that steals gaming passwords and disables antivirus software, according to security researchers at Computer Associates.
Viruses have also been found on digital picture frames sold by Best Buy and Target, as well as on Apple iPods and TomTom navigation equipment. Security experts say the viruses are being loaded during the final stage of production, in which the devices are plugged into a computer and tested to ensure that they work properly.
Experts note that the viruses are probably coming from a careless factory employee plugging an infected device into the testing computer, rather than hackers or the factories themselves. Nonetheless, hackers could someday use infected Chinese-made devices as an avenue of attack, security experts say.
“We’ll probably see a steady increase over time,” says Symantec computer researcher Zulfikar Ramzan. “The hackers are still in a bit of a testing period–they’re trying to figure out if it’s really worth it.”