Apple's recently released iPod handheld computer can be used as a virtual shoplifting device, according to reports.
While Apple was aware of the iPod's potential as an aid to music theft from PCs or via download from the internet, the reason behind the 'Don't Steal Music' sticker on all new iPods, application piracy is a new one.
According to a report in Wired, a youth armed with only an iPod walked into a US computer store and walked out with hundreds of pounds worth of Mac software.
By plugging the iPod into a display Mac using a FireWire cable, the virtual thief was able to simply drag and drop applications from the Mac to the iPod. The iPod wouldn't even have had to leave the thief's pocket.
When an iPod is plugged into a Mac, an icon appears on the desktop immediately, allowing users to drag files over for transfer.
In this case, the perpetrator apparently got away with a copy of Microsoft Office for Mac OS X, worth £417, and a variety of other applications.
Mac Office weighs in at about 200Mb and with a FireWire connection copies over to an iPod in less than a minute.
The iPod's 5Gb drive also means there's plenty of space for a virtual pirate's bullion.
The Mac is a particular target for this sort of piracy because applications are usually installed very neatly, with everything kept in one folder, unlike Windows, which scatters registry entries and files all over the place.
In fact, the considerable drive space available on the iPod could even allow athief to copy the entire Mac OS X operating system over in a matter of minutes.
And while the iPod has built-in anti-piracy mechanisms designed to prevent music files being copied, software restrictions are not so draconian, leaving the iPod open to abuse as a virtual mule for contraband software.
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