Watch that new digital photo frame… it could be infected with malware

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aluratek-photo-frame.jpgDigital photo frames are all the rage at the moment, and they seem innocuous enough, right? After all, you’re only going to be using them to display a few family photos.

The truth is, though, that the seemingly innocent device on your mantelpiece could be harbouring malicious software, ready to infect your PC. Some of it is specifically written to attach to portable storage devices.

It stands to reason, really, that any storage device, be that hard disc or flash memory based, could contain data which, when transferred to a PC, could manifest as a virus or trojan. Remember when a batch of Apple iPods was shipped complete with a PC virus?

McAfee Security reckons that the most likely point of infection for new hardware is in the Quality Control section of the manufacturer.

“As devices like this come off of the assembly line, and before they get packaged and shipped to the distributor or retailer, someone has to check some or all of those devices to make sure they work correctly. For media like those in the picture frames, that probably means plugging the frame into a PC to make sure that the operating system sees the memory correctly and can copy files to and from it. Of course, if the Quality Control folks can copy files to the device. Well, so can a worm if one was installed on their test PC.”

However, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself against the threat of a buggy photo frame or MP3 player:

* Disable the Windows AutoPlay feature (similar advice for Macs, as of course, we’re not completely immune)
* Use up-to-date anti-malware software and make sure it is turned on and set to scan removable drives.
* Manually scan the entire drive after first connecting it and with autoplay disabled. If the scan comes up clean, you’re all set.

Fairly common-sense advice, then, to ensure that your snazzy new hardware doesn’t give your PC a nasty headache.

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Andy Merrett