IBM distributes virus-laden USB keys at security conference
IBM has been left with egg on its face after it distributed virus-laden USB drives to attendees at Australia's biggest computer security conference.
Delegates of the AusCERT conference, held over the past week at the Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast, were told about the malware problem in a warning email this afternoon by IBM Australia chief technologist Glenn Wightwick.
The incident is ironic because conference attendees include the who's who of the computer security world and IBM was there to show off its security credentials.
Some attendees may have thought they were experiencing dejavu as Telstra was left red-faced at the 2008 AusCERT conference for also distributing malware-infected USB drives.
"At the AusCERT conference this week, you may have collected a complimentary USB key from the IBM booth," Wightwick wrote.
"Unfortunately we have discovered that some of these USB keys contained malware and we suspect that all USB keys may be affected."
Wightwick said the virus spreads when the infected USB device is inserted into a Windows computer but noted it should be detected by the majority of current anti-virus products.
He instructed attendees not to use the USB drives and return it to IBM's head office.
AusCERT attendee Tom Piotrowski, managing director of IT security company Unixpac, said he was left "speechless" by the incident.
"Hundreds of IT security professionals make a pilgrimage to AusCERT each year," he said.
"Delegates are going there to listen about the latest developments in security technology ... just think how big an embarrassment a boo-boo like this must be for IBM."
Sydney Morning Herald