Best Buy sold infected digital picture frames

Factory-installed virus a threat to Windows PCs, says retailer

Best Buy Co. has confirmed that, during the holidays, it sold digital picture frames that harbored malicious code able to spread to any connected Windows PC. It is not recalling the frames, however.

What Best Buy called "a limited number" of the 10.4-in. digital frames sold under its in-house Insignia brand were "contaminated with a computer virus during the manufacturing process," according to a notice posted on the Insignia site last weekend. The frame -- which carried the part number NS-DPF10A -- has been discontinued, and all remaining inventory pulled, Best Buy added.

But that didn't happen until after some of infected frames were sold to customers.

Best Buy did not specify the number of virus-loaded frames that had ended up in customers' hands, but it said in a second notice posted today that it is continuing to investigate and is "connecting with our customers who may have been impacted."

The malware packed with the frame is an older virus that Best Buy claimed would be easily detected by any up-to-date antivirus software. It did not, however, specify the malware or narrow the scope of the danger by confirming that it was, say, a nonreplicating Trojan rather than a self-propagating worm.

Only Windows PCs are vulnerable, said Best Buy's notices, and then only if the picture frame is connected to the computer via the included USB cable.

Best Buy recommended users running a current antivirus tool plug the frame into the PC so that the security software can scan the frame and delete the malware. Other customers should call a special toll-free number for help.

"We apologize for the inconvenience that has been caused as a result of this incident," said Best Buy.

Best Buy's public relations team did not respond to a call requesting a comment.

The frame snafu is only the latest in a series of incidents involving factory-infected hardware. Last November, Seagate Technology LLC admitted that an unknown number of its 500GB Maxtor Basics 3200 hard drives left an Asian manufacturing plant with Trojan horses designed to steal online gaming passwords. A year before that, Apple Inc. had to warn Windows users that some of its iPod music players had been infected with a factory virus.

At the time, an Apple vice president made light of the iPod incident, telling Macworld UK: "We are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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