TomTom satnav systems shipping with malware

IT security vendor Sophos has warned punters about the need to run up- to-date IT security software on their PCs after it emerged over the weekend that TomTom is shipping versions of GO 910 satnav systems that have been infected with malware.

According to Sophos, Davey Winder, the well-known IT journo, made an Internet posting last week, claiming that the GO 910 system supplied for review was infected with malware.

Although the TomTom systems are Linux-based, it seems that they can still carry Windows malware, and this is where the problem lies.

Sophos claims that Windows users who connect to the TomTom device via their USB port risk running the malicious code and infecting their desktop Pcs.

I must confess surprise that TomTom has let this malware slip through its quality control systems, as the company has always positioned itself at the quality end of the satnav market.

But given the bloodbath in satnav pricing over the last 12 months, anything is possible.

Graham Cluley, Sophos' senior technology consultant and veteran IT security uber-mensch (enough! -Ed) says there are a number of postings on the Internet from TomTom purchasers asking for advice about viruses, going back as far as September 2006.

"They are the lucky ones who were running an anti-virus product and caught the infection before it could cause too much harm. What's more worrying is that there may be many innocent consumers out there who are unaware they have passed an infection onto their Windows PC," he said.

Sophos notes that this is not the first time that manufacturers have accidentally distributed malware to their customers on hardware devices.

In October last year it was discovered that a number of Apple video iPods had shipped with the Troj/Bdoor-DIJ Trojan horse.

Later on, the Japanese subsidiary of McDonalds announced it was recalling 10,000 MP3 players after discovering that a spyware Trojan horse was contained on its devices.

Which just goes to show - you can't be too careful...