Hard drive giant Seagatehas some explaining to do after it was discovered hundreds of its drives were sold with a suprise gift for unsuspecting purchasers - a live virus that sends their personal information to China.

According to the Taipei Times, 1,800 500GB Maxtor Basics hard drives containing two Trojan horse viruses were sent to retailers from a factory in Thailand, of which 300 were sold before the problem came to light.

WOW passwords compromised

Research on the drives by Kaspersky Lab shows that the Trojans are designed to gather passwords from the drive after it has been installed on a PC and deliver it to a pair of websites in China.

For some obscure reason, the programs focus on game data and attempt to harvest passwords for World of Warcraft and other popular titles. There has even been a suggestion from the Taiwanese Ministry of Justice that the viruses were planted by the Chinese authorities, although nothing has been confirmed.

The unsold drives have all been removed from distribution and Seagate has issued guidance to affected customers, so the episode is unlikely to have any lasting impact. A similar incident hit Apple's iPodlast year.