The China syndrome pt. II
According to Engadget some Maxtor-branded Seagate drives shipped with a handy little virus:

. . . drives produced by a company sub-contract manufacturer located in China were reportedly sent out with the Virus.Win32.AutoRun.ah program already loaded. Apparently, the molar virus is one that get its kicks by searching for passwords to online games (World of Warcraft included) and sending them back to a “server located in China,” and as if that wasn’t enough, it can also disable virus detection software and delete other molar viruses without breaking a sweat.

So many questions
So what would be different if Seagate was Chinese-owned (see The China syndrome)? I suppose it would be easier to build viruses into the firmware. Array vendors would be likely to see them, but would commodity-based cluster storage have any way to catch them?

What if the virus waited to engage until the drive had 7,000 hours of use? Even array vendors wouldn’t see that during integration.

The StorageMojo take
We can scare ourselves silly thinking about how the Chinese government could use disk drives to ferret out secrets. Ultimately though, any such data has to go through servers and networks to reach the outside world. Scanning outgoing data is the only way to protect against such espionage, be it human or virus based.

Where would that scanning take place? In a router? And where is code developed for routers? Some, at least, in China.

If the Chinese made a $30 billion investment in Seagate they’d have to weigh the short term advantage of surreptitious data gathering against the virtually 100% chance they’d get caught. The impact on their investment and their world image would be huge, especially in all the 3rd world countries that would have no idea how badly they’d been compromised.

Disk-based espionage seems highly unlikely. Router-based espionage seems much more likely.

Comments welcome, of course.