The Ur-Guru sent me a link this morning to an article in The Inquirer entitled “Seagate Hard Drives Turn into Spy Machines.” Now, you have to expect overblown headlines from a paper whose purpose is to spread controversy, so I passed the link on to Jason Pecheck at Seagate and asked him what was up.
Jay phoned back within about 10 seconds of my pressing the “send” button, which suggested that Seagate is taking its bad press pretty seriously. Yes, some of the drives made by one of Seagate’s Taiwanese subcontractors were infected with a virus brought in by an employee. And no, you probably don’t own one, because almost all of them were sold in Southeast Asia. There’s already an update to your anti-virus software that should deal with it; if for some reason you haven’t updated your virus definitions lately, you can do so, or install a special version of Kaspersky from the Seagate website.
But dude, let’s get real here about the level of the threat involved and the possibility of spying. The virus wanted one thing and one thing only from those it infected: passwords to online games. So unless you not only have a Maxtor Basics 3200 but also play World of Warcraft, WSGame, 91.com, QQ, Woool, rxjh.17game.com, TianLongBaBu, AskTao, or Perfect World (Wanmei Shijie), you were never in any danger.
Of course, if you are a gamer and bought one of these drives in Southeast Asia, better update your virus definitions quick. But I don’t think the Chinese are going to get any government secrets out of Taiwan with this one.