The iPod Virus: Apple Arrogance

by Devanshu Mehta Oct 19, 2006

Recently, there was an outbreak of E. Coli in the United States- bags of spinach across the country were recalled and the questionable spinach was traced to a region in California. How would you have felt if you had E. Coli poisoning- or worse, died- and all the farmer responsible said, “There is E. Coli in our spinach and we are really upset that human bodies are not more strong and healthy to protect against these things.”

That’s what Apple just did.

Historically, Apple has been an arrogant company and its user community has at times been snarky. We are an elitist minority and usually, we like it that way. We claim that Macs are better and safer and so much cooler, so we are not being arrogant. We’re just giving you the truth.

Apple users can do what they like, but this is my message to the Apple corporation: Stop it. You have gone too far.

In September, an undisclosed number of Video iPods were sold with a Windows virus called RavMon.exe on them. This is a serious issue and one that should be dealt with swiftly and effectively. These things happen and the way to separate the great companies from the bad ones is to see how they respond.

Apple’s response was terrible. They said:

As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses

I’m sorry we broke in to your house, they say. You should have stronger locks.

There isn’t a hint of an apology on their page disclosing the issue, only an aloof sense surprise that people actually use Windows.

Wake up, Apple- your biggest cash cow is the iPod and most of them are used by Windows users. Insult them all you like in the Mac ads, but your iPod users are Windows users. And you just sold them a virus for $400.

Now that I got that out of the way, let us try to deal with the issue of the virus. If you bought a Video iPod after the 12th of September this year, you may have been sold a virus. I would recommend this free trial of McAfee anti virus which should deal with it. Make sure you run it with the iPod attached and scan any attached external drives. Then restore your iPod from iTunes (how to restore).

Apple has not yet disclosed a method of detecting whether your iPod is one of the problem iPods and I doubt they will, unless they smell a lawsuit. Public apologies, meaningful freebies and not being called a weakling is the least an infected paying customer should expect from a company like Apple. Right now, I feel embarrassed for being an Apple user and insulted for being an occasional Windows user.


  • First of all, Sterling, excellent points all around.  Kudos.

    And, Ben, once again agreed. 

    IamWM, there’s nothing “youthful” about a 30-year-old multi-billion corporation.  That’s what we in the biz call propoganda, and citing a company’s propoganda to defend that same company’s finger-pointing isn’t much of an argument.

    Why can’t you just call them Mac-fanatics? Mac-tard is shorter i suppose?

    I’ve actually philosophised previously that the word “fanatic” is probably not the most appropriate.  No one refers to dedicated political party hacks as fanatics, for example.  “Partisan” is much more accurate, but doesn’t quite capture the sheer brainlessness of it.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 25, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • Actually, if the Zune came with a program on it to do that to my mac, I’d be peved at OS X and agree with MS (dispite the lack of appology for the part they had some control over).

    But we’d have to be ASSUMING the complete reversal or rolls where a mac put the program on the Zune in production w/o MS’s knowlege. 

    So with that HUGE assumption, you better belive I’d live by my words and I’d be extremely dissatisfied with my OS X and not MS for pointing it out. The lack of appology would be overshadowed by the problem at hand.  And if malware were to become a common problem on OS X, I’d have a horrible ongoing satisfaction issue {which I clearly don’t have with OS X}.

    I recommend Ghost 8 for backup so Windows can be restored to an image before the problem was found.  It’s terribly inconvenient, but other types of backups often contain the problem, or don’t eliminate it when the system get’s restored.  This Windows senario is an example of the type of dissatisfaction I would have for OS X if the rolls were reversed.  It’s not the Windows system and functionality as much as the virus, security, and other malware issues that causes the most dissatisfaction amongst my clients. 

    If there were no malware and security issues with Windows, all my clients would be a lot more efficent and would have a lot less stress (except the crazy one, but he’s an exception).

    I try to always live by my words and put my money where my mouth is.  If I had even half the trouble with my macs that I have with my PCs, I wouldn’t bother to maintain the Macs.  But obviously Macs run very well for me, and for the clients of mine that have them (and if you knew some of my clients, that’s saying a lot).

    And I totally disagree with your Opinion about Apple’s Public Image.  My OPINION is that they are Youthful, cool, fun, hip, grovie… etc (not cold, ridgid, borring, old… etc).  But I don’t feel that that’s worth fighting over now that I’ve said my peice.


    IamWm had this to say on Oct 26, 2006 Posts: 24
  • My OPINION is that they are Youthful, cool, fun, hip, grovie… etc (not cold, ridgid, borring, old… etc).

    I really am constantly amazed at some people’s susceptibility to propoganda.  I guess I shouldn’t be after all this time on a Mac forum, awash as it is with gullible rubes, but it’s still amazing.  I distinctly recall one user on this site saying how glad he was that Apple hadn’t gone “corporate.”  Say wha-?

    The reason why this is relevant is that you’re using Apple’s youthful exuberance to dismiss their admittedly brazen and snarky blame-shifting as if it were real.  In other words, you’re using an image cultivated by Apple’s marketing dept as if they really are youthful, fun, hip, zesty, electrifying, and all those other stupid buzz words and not a publically held profit-driven billion dollar corporation run by middle-aged white dudes.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 26, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • I don’t know if anyone is still reading this thread, but IamWm‘s reaction to the supposition that switches the role of actors Microsoft and Apple strikes me as odd.

    Actually, if the Zune came with a program on it to do that to my mac, I’d be peved at OS X and agree with MS (dispite the lack of appology for the part they had some control over).

    It seems as though you view OS flaws as allow viruses, trojans and malware as deliberate and malicious oversights. I’d argue that they’re more likely cases of a failure of imagination. Most of the flaws in Windows are of the “buffer-overflow” or “malformed argument” which can lead to code execution variety which from what I understand are hard to detect and eradicate—especially when your code interacts with someone else’s or whatever. Case in point—the Windows Metafile flaw. The WMF file format hasn’t changed substantially since 1990, but the flaw wasn’t discovered by malware writers until 2005—fifteen years this flaw laid hidden. Likewise, the flaws that did hit OS X (one involving LaunchServices and one involving Dashboard) were also that of a failure of imagination. (Though the Apple people get less of an excuse as their failures of imagination implies they completely ignored what has been happening on the other side for the past five years or so.)

    Imagine if you discover that your house was robbed —your doors are locked, and you have bars on your windows… well, you did until the crook tied rope around the bars to your windows, and tied the other end to their pickup truck. They got in the truck and floored the accelerator. Would you really blame the window-bar company for this?

    SterlingNorth had this to say on Nov 10, 2006 Posts: 121
  • I’m probably wasting my time continuing to comment in this thread, but in the off chance someone is still reading it (or comes across the thread in the future), I think the recently discovered .DMG flaw is a even better demonstration of the case I tried to make in my immediate prior post.

    Apple’s disk image format is actually a metaformat, not unlike the WMF graphic image format. It essentially contains instructions on how to recreate something—for a .DMG, instructions on recreating a filesystem. The big problem with these “container” formats is you have to check every type of input this container can accept for flaws, exploits or other misuse. For WMFs, the problem came about where instructions ment to be sent to the printer could be placed in display code which would trip the kernel’s display code into executing code it shouldn’t be. Likewise, if there is a flaw hidden in any one of the filesystems which can be saved into a .DMG format, that flaw could possibly be used to exploit code. However, no one ever imagined that you can use a file-system flaw to exectute code, because it wasn’t really possible to do that—well, until disk images.

    Failure of imagination.

    SterlingNorth had this to say on Nov 26, 2006 Posts: 121
  • Let me add a couple of thinking blocks to this:

    1- Read Apple statement about this infection at:

    2- Arrogance in Apple is a Microsoft type of thing. It started when Wozniak was moved away from Corporate Staff giving ample space to $teve Jobs, and of course,  $$$Gates stepped injecting about $150M on 1997, bringing -I feel- not a remedy but a managing culture style “a la Redmond”.

    Dont give yourself that crappy “not true” sign, just visit the SEC or read:

    What does it mean? Redmond style reigns at Cupertino. Remember the burning Apple portables? or ther old Ipod batteries? Infections is part of it, too. Each day, you will see more “no see, no hear” flaws in apple as in any GatesWorld stuff.

    So dont get hot or angry… the great vintage Cupertino design look´n´smell is there…just remember that now apple pie is being cook mostly from rotten oranges… the important infection is not a little Ipod trojan….  You will see more and more of the Real Thing in the future..

    Pomme had this to say on Nov 30, 2006 Posts: 1
  • I disagree that Apple has the right to disparage the Windows platform in any context in relation to this issue.  Ridiculous.
    If any company sells you a peripheral device that disables your computer, they are responsible.  If Apple acknowledges that they shipped it this way, they are responsible, end of story.  If you insult the platform, you insult the user.  I’m sure you know that that’s bad business, even if you have little respect for Windows.

    “I’m sorry that the gasoline that came from our refinery had sugar in it.  We regret that your engine didn’t have a sugar detection sensor to keep you from starting your car, like my car does, and that we let that sugar slip in like that.”

    Would you find that acceptable?

    There is no analogy to people getting other people sick by accident.  This was accomplished with malicious intent by one or more people, who gained access to internal Apple servers.

    What sets Apple apart for the Windows community is their ability to make innovative software.  With that comes the responsibility to acknowledge failures in quality control. 

    If every Windows user decided not to buy an Ipod based on the attitude of that announcement, there would be a significant drop in sales.

    metermax had this to say on Dec 26, 2006 Posts: 2
  • This is where we learn that Karma is a bitch…  This weekend in a Hack-a-Mac contest, someone won a prize for managing to get Safari to launch shell from a malformed link. Today we learn that the vulnerability could very well be from Quicktime’s handling of Java, and that it is very much possible that Apple exported this vulnerability to Windows as well.

    I wonder if Apple will put out a press release lamenting mournfully that Quicktime isn’t hardy against such vulnerabilities

    SterlingNorth had this to say on Apr 23, 2007 Posts: 121
  • hey, can someone sue apple? please? Thanks

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    kral oyun had this to say on Jan 11, 2008 Posts: 2
  • Well, people are not used to the operation system on Mac having a virus, viruses are only associated with Windows. Where the latter is concerned, it’s a good thing that the free antivirus download option is available. But anyhow, leaving technology aside, public speaking and image count too, and people do deserve apologies.

    ClaytonWind had this to say on Jun 11, 2011 Posts: 8
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