Malware Manifests on "Small Number" of Dell Server Boards

Like a hitchhiker from hell, malware doesn't care where it catches a ride from, just as long as it reaches its destination. We've seen USB thumb drives come with infectious files buried inside, digital picture frames containing malicious content, and even compromised driver discs straight from the factory. But if ever there was an argument in favor of running AV software, it's that malware can even come embedded on motherboards, as some Dell PowerEdge customers are finding out.

In a forum post on Dell's support site, a Dell representative confirmed that a "small number" of PowerEdge 410 boards might be infected, as well as some R310, R510, and T410 boards.

"As part of Dell's quality process, we have identified a potential issue with our service motherboard stock, like the one you received for your PowerEdge R410, and are taking preventative action with our customers accordingly," a Dell rep wrote in response to a customer inquiry. "The potential issue involves a small number of PowerEdge server motherboards sent out through service dispatches that may contain malware. This malware code has been detected on the embedded server management firmware as you indicated."

Scary stuff, though in this particular case, the Dell rep went on to say that "we have received no customer reports related to data security." He also said that the issue, which only affects Windows-based systems, is "not present on motherboards shipped new with PowerEdge systems."

According to Dell, the maximum potential exposure is less than 1 percent of the above listed server boards, and that all impacted motherboards have been removed from the replacement supply line. And that AV recommendation we touched on earlier?

"All industry-standard antivirus programs on the market today have the ability to identify and prevent the code [W.Spybot worm] from infecting the customer's operating system," Dell said.