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Malware-infected flash cards shipped out with HP switches

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HP has sent out a warning to customers after the vendor found out it had inadvertently been shipping virus-laden compact flash cards with its networking kit.

The unnamed malware appeared on flash cards that came bundled with HP ProCurve 5400zl switches. The flash card wouldn't do anything on the switch itself but "reuse of an infected compact flash card in a personal computer could result in a compromise of that system's integrity," HP warned in a bulletin issued on Tuesday.

"There is an irony that a major selling point of the ProCurve switches is its virus-throttling capability," notes Reg reader Kevin L, one of a number of readers who told us about the HP snafu. "Pity they couldn't throttle it in manufacture," he added.

It's unclear how the unknown malware got onto the Flash cards that come bundled with the 10 Gbps-capable line of LAN switches, but an infected computer somewhere in the manufacturing process – possible in a factory run by a third-party supplier – is the most obvious suspect.

These kind of problems are rare but not unprecedented and really only cause significant problems when a particular aggressively spreading or destructive strain of malware is involved, as was the case when the FunLove virus infected machines in a Dell factory a few years back in 1999. HP is not unacquainted with this type of problem. HP distributed printer drivers corrupted by FunLove after malware-ladened files were uploaded to its website back in 2001.

The latest incident is more like a case from 2008, when HP Australia warned that optional USB keys shipped with some of its ProLiant servers were infected by malware. A batch of 256MB and 1GB USB keys that shipped with the servers were infected by the Fakerecy and SillyFDC, both low-risk strains of malware. ®

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