Photo Kiosks Spread Viruses, Admits Woolworths

Dennis Faas's picture

An Australian supermarket chain has admitted it has found viruses on its self-service photo kiosks. The company is now working on adding anti-virus software to the machines.

The incident involves Big W outlets, part of the Woolworths chain. It has 1,800 kiosks that allow users to print their own photographs direct from a digital source.

One customer, who unfortunately for the chain writes a blog about computer security, found that after using a kiosk his USB stick was infected with a Trojan horse. The Trojan soon after prepared to attack his computer by disabling antivirus programs, and downloading malicious software. The file records showed that the virus had been added to the stick during the store visit.

Grocers Act Too Slow for Security Blogger

The customer, Morgan Storey, immediately informed Woolworths, then waited four days before publishing the details, saying the delay was to give the company time to approach the problem before it received publicity. He wrote:

"My problem with this issue is that there seems to be little design that has gone into a system that thousands of people probably use a week, and little concern for users of these systems. How many people are going to get home and infect their systems? How many are going to not realize it was due to the dodgy kiosk they used and then blame the Internet, Microsoft, or their kids? I am not a big fan of misplaced blame." (Source:

Anti-virus Software Still At Test Stage

Woolworths replied to Storey and noted that "we are currently testing anti-virus software on our Fuji photo kiosks in a number of stores, and if it is successful, we plan on rolling it out to all stores in the near future." (Source:

It later confirmed to the media that "In a small number of cases we have detected isolated viruses which have been introduced to the machines through a customer's USB device." The company noted that the risks from the kiosks were minimal, but suggested customers use the CD, DVD or memory card slots if they wanted to be even more secure. (Source:

How to Avoid Kiosk Virus Infection

Several online commenters have noted that if users do want to use re-recordable media on such machines, it may be safer to use SD memory cards which come with a physical write protection lock. This feature is also available on USB-to-SD adaptors.

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