Dell appears to have unwittingly shipped out a number of replacement motherboards infected with malware. The insidious code has been found in the system management firmware of a "small number" of motherboards for PowerEdge R310, R410, R510, and T410 servers. According to a post on Dell's support forums, the infected boards came from "service dispatches." Mobos that shipped in new PowerEdge servers are unaffected, suggesting that Dell's service department is responsible for the compromised firmware.
To its credit, Dell discovered the infection itself. The company is calling affected customers and providing techs to address the problem, although it points out that only users running Windows are vulnerable to the exploit. Even those running Windows and "industry-standard" anti-virus programs would have been protected from the malware, Dell adds.
Nevertheless, this is an embarrassing development for Dell, who earlier this year was ranked number one in service and support among corporate IT users surveyed by Technology Business Research. Amusingly, the Dell press release announcing the survey's results lauds the company's quick service response times. That might be its only saving grace with this particular problem. (Thanks to TG Daily for the tip.)