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Microsoft slams Apple over iPod virus

Quality checks blamed for security blunder

Security and quality assurance experts reacted negatively to Apple's efforts to blame manufacturing problems that resulted in iPod MP3 players shipping with a virus that affects Windows.

Security professionals, including Microsoft's own product release virus scanning chief, called Apple's efforts to deflect blame on to Microsoft misleading and said the batch of factory-infected iPods reveals a troubling lack of thoroughness in the company's manufacturing process.

Earlier this week, Apple released a statement on its website noting that a "small number of video iPods shipped with a Windows virus", which the company identified as RavMonE.exe.

The number of affected iPods is small - fewer than 1 percent of all Video iPods available for purchase after 12 September, 2006, the company said in its statement. The company said "as you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it".

That statement drew criticism from security experts, including Jonathan Poon, the man in charge of scanning Microsoft products for viruses before they ship.

"It's not a matter of which platform the virus originated [on]. The fact that it's found on the portable player means that there's an issue with how the quality checks, specifically the content check, was done," Poon wrote in a blog entry.

James "Randy" Abrams, who held Poon's job for more than a decade at Microsoft and is not director of technical education at ESET, agreed.

"The Apple iPod incident was not about Microsoft having a hardy operating system, it was all about security and process," Abrams said.

Viruses on Microsoft's network weren't unusual when Abrams was testing that company's products before shipping them, he said.

"I released software in an environment surrounded by Windows machines. Many machines on the corporate network were infected. We never introduced a virus into the software in the release or manufacturing processes because we had a professional understanding of what it took to release what we were supposed to," he said.

"That Apple would blame Microsoft demonstrates a lack of understanding of remedial security and manufacturing processes. Virus was only a symptom of the problem. Apple didn't know what they were shipping," Abrams said.

Apple did not respond to phone and email requests for comment.


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