Sony issues security alert for some Vaio computers

Sony Corp. is urging customers who have bought Vaio computers since November to upgrade their software after the discovery of a potentially serious software bug that could allow intruders access to their computers. The security advisory applies to customers in much of Asia and some Middle East and African countries.

The bug exists in the Vaio Manual or Vaio Manual CyberSupport for Vaio versions 3.0 and 3.1 online manual software that is preinstalled on some Vaio machines and on the recovery CD-ROM.

By exploiting the bug, third parties could gain access to a Vaio computer running the software via the Internet or by e-mail and then copy or overwrite data stored on the computer's hard drive without being detected by anti-virus software, Sony said.

Sony discovered the bug at the end of December after a Vaio customer alerted the company to the vulnerability, said Merran Wrigley, a spokeswoman for Sony in Tokyo. "To date, we haven't had any complaints of problems from Vaio users," she said. "Just the contact from one user who told us he thought there may be a problem with the software," she said.

The affected software is present in machines sold in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Japanese machines sold after May 2001 and those in other countries sold since November are affected.

Vaio machines sold in the Americas, Europe and mainland China do no include the software and are not affected by the security problem.

A software update that closes the security hole is available for downloaded from Sony at http://vcl.vaio.sony.co.jp/Security/english/index.html .

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Martyn Williams

PC World

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