Protect yourself from merchandise bugs.
Another retail “holiday” is coming up that’s out to separate you from your dollars. What are you thinking of getting your Valentine? Beyond the standard roses and chocolates (or even slinky nightwear 😉 ), I’ve always thought that a nice gift for Valentine’s Day should be something personal enough yet still fairly simple — like a photo frame for instance. [I actually think you should reserve the more elaborate gifts for your anniversary!] So speaking of picture frames, I’d come across some new-fangled, digital frames on catalogs like Sharper Image or Grandin Road, where I often pick up a lot of fascinating ideas I’d secretly file away in my own wish list for the next gift exchange.
Nowadays though, I give it some pause as I had, at one point, stumbled on an odd story in our local paper that talked about how such a great Valentine’s gift idea may not be so great. There were certain popular gift items (mainly, those in the consumer electronics area) which had fallen victim to destructive computer agents; there were some electronic goods that picked up really bad viruses from overseas, where these are usually manufactured.
The news piece may seem a bit sensationalized and may be overstating the risks, but I thought it was kind of interesting. It discussed that malicious software can infiltrate a lot of popular goods, ranging from MP3 players, digital picture frames, iPods and the like. After retailers performed some investigations on the matter, there was suspicion that the viruses originated from China.
Can there be a bug in your frame?
The problem here appears to be quality control given the source of these products and their parts. It seems understandable that anything that has software in it should really be tested and checked out for these types of bugs as well, though when I think of software viruses, infections and malware, I just never expected to find them in stuff that seemed so innocuous and ordinary, like a simple photo frame or fancy sunglasses (even if they happen to be the jazzed up kind). Then again, our regular everyday items have now evolved into things that have been pimped up and tricked out like never before.
While we now all enjoy digital products and devices with amazing computer power, many of these items are often plugged into our personal computers and other gadgets. In the case of digital photo frames, the fancier models have the ability to transfer images and photos throughout networks. And given those capabilities, you can see that such a product can be a potential liability to your household network setup.
So beware of anything that you’re thinking of sticking into your computer — you may have to think twice knowing what can be out there to sabotage your virtual world.
Here are a few things we can do about the threat of malware in our merchandise:
Tips To Protect Yourself From Becoming A Victim of Consumer Malware
#1 Report your troubles.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being infected, start out by contacting the retailer from which you got the product. Since many of the tainted products have been sourced from big retailers like Amazon, Best Buy or Sam’s Club, you should give the store a call (or contact them) to report suspected malware incidents, or you can visit your neighborhood store location. You can then hope for a recall if the problem is widespread.
#2 Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
Seems like a no-brainer, but lots of people out there still don’t protect nor secure their computers enough and have not installed the appropriate software to ward off the evil. It’s a good idea to keep your firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software updated and running regularly. True, they may not help block the stuff coming through a USB port but you’re probably still ahead if you have as much protection as you can muster. More tips on dealing with spyware and malware here.
#3 Don’t take the risk if you don’t have to.
Well, that just means that maybe we shouldn’t be so bleeding edge after all. How about picking something else as your Valentine’s Day gift? If you like the photo frame idea, maybe this more harmless variant may do the trick for you:
This DIY crafts project should be pretty clean. No bugs in this one!
It’s a shame that these days, we can’t just enjoy a gift for what it is, without worrying that it would somehow jump out, bite us and harm our valuables. The fight against malicious minds, fraud, identity theft, scams, you name it, just never ends, does it? In some respects, the old-fashioned gifts may be better and safer.
Created February 8, 2008. Updated February 3, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.