IBM Distributes Malware Laden USB Drives at AusCERT Security Conference


Another case of ‘accidental’ malware distribution, remember a while back when Vodafone Spain was Distributing Mariposa Malware, the latest is that IBM handed out malware laden USB drives at a security conference of all places.

Well on the up-side at least everyone there would be security savvy so damage should be minimal. If it was a normal consumer conference we may not even know about it.

I wonder where the core of this problem is coming from? Manufacturers? Is it part of the whole China cyber-terrorism plot?

IBM has apologised after supplying a malware-infected USB stick to delegates of this week’s IBM AusCERT security conference.

The unlovely gift was supplied to an unknown number of delegates to the Gold Coast, Queensland conference who visited IBM’s booth. Big Blue does not identify the strain of malware involved in the attack beyond saying it’s a type of virus widely detected for at least two years which takes advantage of Windows autorun to spread, as a copy of IBM’s email apology published by the Beast Or Buddha blog explains.

As usual the big corporations tend to give as little information as possible, the same goes for IBM who kept pretty hush-hush about the whole thing and how it happened. They didn’t even release the name of the malware infector.

At least they did acknowledge it however and warned the attendees providing an address to return the USB key to. From their statement I’d say it’s probably not a targeted attack as it’s a rather old malware variant.

More likely it can be attributed to sloppy handling of the USB drives at some point, perhaps during testing procedure the host computer was already infected and spread when the drives were plugged in.

At the AusCERT conference this week, you may have collected a complimentary USB key from the IBM booth. Unfortunately we have discovered that some of these USB keys contained malware and we suspect that all USB keys may be affected.

The malware is detected by the majority of current Anti Virus products [as at 20/05/2010] and been known since 2008.

The malware is known by a number of names and is contained in the setup.exe and autorun.ini files. It is spread when the infected USB device is inserted into a Microsoft Windows workstation or server whereby the setup.exe and autorun.ini files run automatically.

Please do not use the USB key, and we ask that you return it to IBM at Reply Paid 120, PO Box 400, West Pennant Hills 2120.

Hopefully we won’t start to see hoards of phones and USB pen-drives getting handed out carrying nasty malware variants, we could write these incidents off as freak convergences of circumstance..but then honestly I think it will happen again.

And this isn’t the first time it’s happened at AusCERT either, Australian telco Telstra distributed malware-infected USB drives at AusCERT 2008 as reported by Secure Computing.

You thought some people might have learn some lessons by now?

Source: The Register

Posted in: Hardware Hacking, Malware


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2 Responses to IBM Distributes Malware Laden USB Drives at AusCERT Security Conference

  1. CBRP1R8 May 25, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    I thought this was just too funny…laughed my head off…you see I work with IBM closely (unfortunately) and I know from my own personal experience what that companies’ work ethic is like…It’s good a big name like them takes it on the chin and gets a little bad publicity…

    Besides…as it is a security conference…its most likely all of the people getting them would be using Linux to scan the USB’s negating the windows malware to start with…then all they have to do is clean it up and you got a shiny new (probably 2gb) USB to use..

  2. tom mullen May 27, 2010 at 12:26 am #

    Scanning all digital content with multiple anti-virus vendor packages PRIOR to distribution would be a smart release management practice. The do-it-yourself removal steps IBM provided in the emails essentially advocated this (albeit after the horse had left the barn).