It just goes to show nothing is safe. Late last year, some TomTom GPS devices were infected with a pair of low-grade Windows viruses. The iPod also found itself infected with a similar low-risk virus late last year as well.
But neither of those two were a threat to the device or users. Both viruses got onto the machines during the manufacturing process and would not run on the device’s native operating system. However, a newly discovered virus for the iPod does indeed run on the iPod.
The Podloso virus is a proof of concept that does not pose a real threat, but it shows the potential is there. Podloso does execute on the iPod, unlike the previous iPod infection. But the good news is that it doesn’t do anything. It has no malicious payload, nor does it damage files. Antivirus vendor Kaspersky Labs considers it a “typical proof of concept virus. Such viruses are created in order to demonstrate that it is possible to infect a specific platform.”
The other bit of good news is that it only works on iPods running Linux not the normal iPod operating system. Linux software would have to be loaded by the user, it’s not included in the iPod as sold by Apple. There are some Linux antivirus programs available, like AVG from Grisoft and BitDefender, so once they add the Podloso definition it should be removable.
The virus works by installing itself to the folder that contains program demo versions. Podloso cannot be launched automatically without user involvement. Once launched, the virus scans the device’s hard disk and infects all executable .elf format files. Any attempt to launch these files will cause the virus to display a message on the screen which says “You are infected with Oslo the first iPodLinux Virus.”
One security analyst isn’t worried. “This doesn’t seem like a big deal. My guess is that not many users have Linux installed on their iPods so that this vulnerability will not get a lot of traction. Also… we can not make claims as to the security of an OS based on this one proof of concept virus,” said Natalie Lambert, senior analyst with Forrester Research in an emailed statement to internetnews.com.