IBM Memory Keys in mystery virus infection

Rare, Dormant

A computer virus has somehow infected IBM's 32MB Memory Key, prompting the firm to issue a utility that cleans up the infection.

The Memory Key is a removable storage device which plugs into the USB port. Last year, users reported that McAfee's VirusScan had spotted the WYX virus on the devices.

This was thought to be a false alarm at the time but subsequent testing revealed it was a real sighting of the rare WYX virus, a stealth, memory-resident, Master Boot Record (MBR)/boot sector infecting virus.

According to David Emm, product marketing manager at Network Associates, McAfee division, the virus poses no risk (simply laying dormant on the device) as you can't start a PC from the memory key.

But it is unclear how the virus got on Memory Keys in the first place, he told us. The WYX virus was first discovered in November 1999 but the Memory Key is a more recent innovation, making the infection even more of a puzzle.

Computer Buyer News reports that Memory Keys with a manufacturing date prior to December 21 2001 or a serial number below 2320000 may be infected with the virus. Newer Memory Keys are thought to be free of infection.

Users of potentially-infected Memory Keys can download a fix from IBM here. ®

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