I have just learned that some electronic devices are arriving from manufacturers already equipped with viruses. This isn't deliberate, usually; a worker plugs an infected music player into a computer used for factory testing, for example, and infects the computer, which in turn infects the iPod tested on it. Then, when you plug the iPod -- or digital picture frame or flash drive -- into your computer, it in turn gets the virus.
This can easily drive a PC or iBook user nuts. But suppose it spreads to more serious digitals? A team of security experts recently hacked into a combination pacemaker-defibrillator, the NEW YORK TIMES reported, to see if the medical equipment was vulnerable. It was. It took, granted, $30,000 worth of specialized equipment -- but it could be done.
In BEGGARS IN SPAIN, I have a character caution another to prepare his legal statements only on a free-standing computer, unconnected to any other device. Maybe that was more prescient than I knew. Infecting my email is one thing. But a defibrillator?
An armored vehicle?