There are now so many urban legends, its getting hard to know whether some of these stories might be true after all. And then there are the legends that certain perfectly true stories are actually urban legends.
One that will have people scratching their heads for years to come is the story of the MP3 player that went out to the shops loaded with a computer worm.
In recent days, Creative Labs has owned up on its Japanese website that 3,700 of its Zen Neeon MP3 machines were boxed for sale with the a copy of the W32.Wullik.B worm on the units 5Gb hard drive. Its a dated and pretty harmless worm as these things go, but the W32 bit of its name tells you it the intended prey is, of course, Windows users.
It was, you might remember, Microsoft which famously managed to put the Concept macro virus on a Windows 95 distribution CD a decade ago, and so fired up this genre of digital PR disaster. Coincidentally, it was Windows 95 that gave the world the 32-bit vFAT filesystem and its derivatives used today in many MP3 players, digital camera flash cards, PDAs, and even Hi-Fis
It was a wonderful innovation, and one that has helped cement Microsofts dominance of the desktop OS, not to mention earn the company a royalty for every flash card sold using its design. Windows 95 is long gone now, but vFAT lives on as its enduring legacy.
Its ubiquity and openness has offered malware a wider channel through which to spread, a path that always leads back to the PC itself. Examples of a company spreading viruses and worms on shipping product remains extremely rare, but as any sysadmin will tell you these devices are, in principle at least, now a tangible threat.
This technology helped bring the worlds of business and the home together like never before when many would have been happier had they stayed apart.
Heard the one about the virus which infected a TV set via the remote?