Disconnect your WD My Book Live from the web or you could lose all your data

WD My Book Live
(Image credit: Western Digital)

Do you own a WD My Book Live or My Book Live Duo data backup device? If so, Western Digital says you should disconnect it from from the internet immediately because an apparent malware outbreak is enabling attackers to remotely wipe these drives by initiating factory resets.

"Western Digital has determined that some My Book Live devices are being compromised by malicious software. In some cases, this compromise has led to a factory reset that appears to erase all data on the device," Western Digital states in a support article

The last firmware update for these external backup drives came in 2015, as Western Digital has shifted its focus to newer products like its My Cloud Home lineup. However, it sounds as though one more firmware update could be coming, to address whatever vulnerability is allowing malicious software to wreak havoc on people's data backups. In the meantime, however, Western Digital says these drives should not be connected to the web.

"At this time, we recommend you disconnect your My Book Live from the Internet to protect your data on the device. We are actively investigating and we will provide updates to this thread when they are available," Western Digital adds.

The issue came to light when an affected owner posted a story of data loss of Western Digital's support forum (via BleepingComputer). The user said they had been using a My Book Live for years without issue, but woke up to find "all the data on it is gone today."

Others chimed in with similar experiences.

"All my data is gone too. Message in GUI says it was 'Factory reset' today! 06/23. I am totally screwed without that data…years of it," another user wrote.

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Making matters worse, several users report not even being able to log into their My Book Live devices. When they try to do so, they receive a message saying they have inputted an "invalid password," even when using the default login credentials. In such cases, performing another factory reset is a potential workaround, but it does not bring back the missing data.

There is not a whole lot Western Digital can do for My Book Live owners who lost their data. If you are one of those people, depending on how important your data is, you could try extracting the drive and plugging it into a PC (iFixIt has a handy guide on dismantling the My Book Live), and then running a data recovery program on the disk. Likewise, you could also pay a professional data recovery service to try and retrieve your files, though they tend to be expensive.

This situation underscores the importance of having multiple backups of mission critical and/or otherwise precious data. And for really important stuff, even consider having one of those backups in a different physical location, just in case physical disaster strikes, like a fire or flood.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).