The worm can be triggered if users run an update to either the Unified Server Configurator (USC) or 32-bit Diagnostics on the server.
According to a Dell employee posting to the PowerEdge server support forum, "the W32.Spybot worm was discovered in flash storage on the motherboard during Dell testing." The worm, which is not part of the firmware, can be blocked by "all industry-standard antivirus programs on the market today," he said.
The employee offered more details about the extent of the infection: "This issue does not affect any Dell PowerEdge servers shipped from our factories and is limited to a small number of the replacement motherboards only which were sent via Dell's service and replacement process for four servers: PowerEdge R310, PowerEdge R410, PowerEdge R510, and PowerEdge T410."
Fewer than 1% of each of the server models were potentially exposed to the malware, according to Dell, and affected motherboards are no longer being shipped. In addition, PowerEdge servers containing an Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC) Express or iDRAC Enterprise card are not affected.
Dell is calling affected customers directly to schedule a visit from a technician to replace the affected motherboards. The company said that "to date, we have received no customer reports related to data security" for the servers containing the malware.
But one Dell customer, posting to the PowerEdge support forum, faulted the company for warning customers about the issue, but not providing full technical details or an online recall notice with full vulnerability information, "especially when they asked to be able to schedule the service call to resolve the issue at least 10 business days in the future."