Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Theoretically it's possible for your camera's memory card to transmit a virus to another PC or camera, but the chances of that happening are very rare.

Can a camera's memory card transmit a virus to my PC or to another camera?

I have reversed my position on this article.
Please visit, instead, this new article:
Can my computer get a virus from my camera?

No.

OK, 99.99% no. The 0.01% "maybe" breaks down like this:

Memory cards as disks - memory cards used in digital cameras can, with the right adapters, often be used almost like floppy disks in most personal computers. It's one way to transfer your photos from the camera to computer. So it's theoretically possible that any virus that could propagate via floppy could do so via a memory card being passed around from computer to computer.

Cameras as targets - Digital cameras are in many ways sophisticated dedicated-purpose computers. So it's theoretically possible that if a camera's "operating system" allowed programs to be loaded into the camera somehow, such a program could be a virus.

I've emphasized "theoretically" in both cases above, because to my knowledge neither have ever happened. And in my opinion neither are very likely too. Viruses are just computer programs written by people looking for a thrill. There are more thrills to be had, and much easier ones at that, by making viruses for popular transmission media, like the internet, and popular computer systems, like Windows.

In a nutshell: I wouldn't worry about it.

At all.

Article C2126 - July 16, 2004 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

34 Comments
Paul
July 28, 2004 10:34 AM

Start worring about the virus on camera's memory!
I bought a "refurbished" HP photosmart 735 in Phoenix, Az. I took one picture on the internal 16mb memory, then inserted a card and took more pictures. When I removed the card to download pictures to the printer I noticed there was 2 pictures on the camera's memory. I down loaded it to my computer. Mistake! The second picture on the camara was a gory seen of a behead person on a stick, behing held up by a Arib man in Iraq. This picture proceeded to fill my hard drive!

Ademola A.
November 5, 2004 2:48 PM

I have been using my HP 733 digital camera but all of sudden I just discover to my suprise that the camera could no longer download to my Computer system Again, And even to work on the ones already downloaded is now a problem , I AM NOW ASKING COULD IT BE A VIRUS.

Uncensored
December 5, 2004 12:16 AM

No comment, I have a question. Can the memory of a printer be infected with a virus? If so, how?
Please post this a the next question that you answer and if not send your responce to me in an e-mail. Thanks

Leo
December 5, 2004 4:14 PM

Same answer as for camera, except that it's more like 99.9999% no, and 0.0001% yes. A printer virus would be very difficult, and fairly pointless in many ways.

Johnie Cowan
December 6, 2004 12:49 PM

1. Can you download backwards, from a computer to a digital camera disk, such as a SD disk?

2. When you download from a digital camera disk to a computer, what does the computer do to the disk. I have a Mitsubishi TV with card slots, but if you have download a card to your computer, then the TV cannot read the disk/card anymore, so what is the computer doing to the disk when you download from camera disk to computer?

Leo
December 6, 2004 8:53 PM

1) Certainly. I do it all the time :-).
2) Nothing special, really. For it to work the disk has to be formatted with a filesystem that the computer recognizes. Many devices recognize the same type of filesystem (often DOS's FAT filesystem). The problem you're experiencing might simply be that the other device does not use a compatible filesystem.

Jane
January 10, 2005 3:27 PM

I downloaded 72 pics from my camera's memory stick to my PC, and they immediately began to replicate themselves - it got to "Copy 89 of copy of shortcut 2 of Hawaii068" and was continuing faster than I could delete. I was finally able to block-delete all the pics, but by then it had turned 72 pics into 1,056 files. Could this have been a virus? It sure behaved like one!

subhash
August 29, 2005 8:08 AM

in my opinion a corruted card or even crad with virus is safe and cant spoil the OS of digital camera.As most virus attack OS .

Eric
September 10, 2005 11:15 PM

Digital Camera's are not likely to fall victim to computer viruses, as anyone who knows anything about a computer virus will tell you.

1. A virus needs an operating system to attack, and most operating systems that fall victim to virus attacks are windows based operating systems. Ultimatley, digital camera's do have some sort of operating system but the disk drive itself is a storage device, not work station that is used to exectute programs. If you did happen to transmit a virus onto your digital camera it would be more likely to affect your computer upon the upload and execution of the file than it would be to affect your camera.

2. You need an executable program to trigger a virus and since the program itself has to be opened to trigger the virus, it's not at all likely to occur on a digital camera. Again because the drive on a digital camera is a storage device not workstation where you're executing a variety of program files.

Tom
January 11, 2006 11:25 AM

PLEASE HELP. Last night I downloaded some digital photos from my new Dell computer (via new Fuji FinePix software) to a Sony 3.5" brand new floppy disk. Everything I had was either new or first time used: the computer is new, the software that came with it is new, the floppy disk was right out of a sealed Sony box of 10. AND, it was the FIRST time I accessed the A: drive on my new computer. The first time. I downloaded 9 photos onto the floppy disk OK, and when I tried to do the 10th, my McAfee virus window popped up indicating that the photo file was infected with the EXPLOIT.. Trojan virus. It said that the file could neither be cleaned nor deleted. So I quarantined it and scanned my computer as instructed. I am scared to even go on my computer at the moment. (I am sending this question to you from another computer). My question is, with everything brand new or first time used, can you please tell me how this happened and what I should do? Thanks so much, very much appreciated.

Zaid
January 22, 2006 4:59 PM

Dear Leo,

It happened :(
I usually use my own PC when downloading photos. I use a card reader to copy files from my CF card on to my PC hard disk. If I need to print, I use a pen drive or a portable hard disk to take photos to the print shop.

But today I was in a hurry, so I took the CF card from the camera and used the print shop PC to order prints. Later when I came home and wanted to archive the photos on to my own PC hard disk, norton detected a virus on the CF card. The print shop computer put a virus on my CF card.

I got terrified whether my Canon EOS 20D got infected too. And a search brought me to your page.

Norton had deleted the virus file on its own. Being extra careful I formatted the CF card using my PC, usually I'd do it on the camera. Now I'm scared to switch the camera on.

Please advise.

Best regards,
Zaid

Leo
January 24, 2006 10:04 PM

As the article indicates, it is possible for a memory card to transmit a virus from PC to PC. Obviously yours picked up one at the photo shop. Cameras are safe. Viruses are written for a specific operating system, and since cameras don't run Windows, your camera is safe.

Andrew
February 1, 2006 5:06 PM

My wife had to copy photos from our new Z700 to a CD while on holiday in Sri Lanka. The transfer to CD worked ok, but we did get a little something extra.

The W32.Rontokbro.B@mm virus/worm was loaded onto the SD 256Mb memory card.

So, please be careful about checking your memory cards when you bring them back from the local print shop. How often does the 17 year old working in the K-Mart update the a/v software?

Please also note the date of the "answer" to this question. A lot can happen in 3 years....

tricia
February 23, 2006 11:25 AM

turns out my computer has a virus. I found out after i tried downloading pictures onto my computer off of a memory card reader. well now around 300 of my pictures on the card have disappeared and i am devastated. I don't know if they will ever come back or if i can retrieve them somehow, if anyone knows please tell me.

Anonymous
September 11, 2006 5:07 PM

Can a camera's memory card transmit a virus to my PC or to another camera? - Yes, I've seen it.

I work in a UK camera shop, part of a large chain. One day I brought some of my photos home from work on a USB drive only for AVG to warn me when I plugged it into my PC that it was infected with the i-worm/vb-ld worm. After that we discovered that this worm was infesting the shop PC and had no doubt come in on a customer's memory card that we had checked for errors. Head office and its IT dept, in their wisdom, had decided that since the PC was not connected to the internet it did not need anti-virus.

Anyway, this ingenious little worm put an .exe file of itself into every folder opened using Windows Explorer, whether that was on a PC hard drive, a memory card, a USB drive or even the internal memory of a camera. To invite the user to click on it it changed Windows Explorer's settings to hide the file ending which would have given it away and disguised itself as a folder of the same name as the folder it was in.

So as soon as you opened the DCIM folder on a memory card to view the photos, it created a copy of itself called DCIM.exe but hid the .exe ending and used a folder icon to disguise itself. The unsuspecting victim would then thing "Oh, I wonder what is in this folder"...

We soon fixed the shop PC and thought nothing more of it for a few months, when a woman came in complaining a CD she had burnt from a memory card on the digital print maker (DPM) machine was infected. This also turned out to be infected, but is managed remotely from head office. When alerted to the infection they stated it was impossible (quite why, given it had no anti-virus is beyond me. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work this out, so why people employed specially as IT technicians for a major chain couldn't when anyone with just a modest knowledge of home computing could I don't know). Anyway, after actually being persuaded to check rather than dismissing the possibility they panicked and sent someone half way across the country to completely reinstall Windows!

All in all this worm had been infesting for months and must have infected hundreds of memory cards, USB drives and CDs. The fact only two customers came back about it suggests anti-virus use is limited out there...

Moses
October 20, 2006 8:08 AM

Dear Leo

Yes memory card can transmit viruses.Infact anything that stores information that is transferrable to a PC can spread viruses.

I have got a Sony digital camera (DSC-P51) that is now unable to take pictures after detecting a w32/tenga.gen virus. You can view pictures already there on the memory card but when you turn to take photos, the LCD is blank and snowy and cannot see the images you want to take. It flashes when you take a photo but when you view it there will be darkness and no images.

Pliz help. My sister's wedding is taking place in a week's time and i want to use this camera bcoz the pictures that it can produce are good.

sudhakar
June 6, 2007 9:42 AM

my camera casioexslim600 caught up with some virus and mcafee deleted the exe files but i am sure the memory card still has 500 snaps but not able to open when connected the camera doesnt show dcim or 100.. folders how do i retrive the photos leo?

Joe
November 17, 2007 1:49 PM

I had was using a 2 gig SanDisc memory card from a digital camera to upload pics to my Gateway
computer (Vista). Everything was fine. When I edited the photos I indavertantly saved the photos to the card, not my computer. The next day, when I reinserted the card to my computer my monitor instantly went black. Now whenever I start my computer the monitor is almost completely dim for about 5 minutes until it sort of snaps out of it.

Is this a virus? Can it be fixed? When it laptop monitors go black, do they ever go back?

Help!!!

maff
December 3, 2007 12:17 AM

using sony memmory stick duo, all fine then all my photos disapered.camera cant find card when inserted,and card cannot be formated or wiped so data recovery could be tried in shops. any help on this, thanks

Tom
January 1, 2008 2:48 PM

sony cybershot.
Took camera into Sony agents for repair.
They said it had caught a virus from a computer and was uneconomical to repair and the guarantee does not cover viruses.

Benny Varghese
January 14, 2008 6:06 AM

Thanks everybody.
I had the same problem and that is how I searched on the internet and came here. My 2 memory sticks (I was using in my Sony camera) and one USB pen drive were affected - all from the same machine. Same problems. I was dead scared that all my photos / data were gone. Anyway, I found an easy and safe solution for the same.

What dodgey mentioned (and many others mentioned) was correct. The virus hides the folders (containing data) and creates an exe with the same name and looks like a folder.

What you need to do is this:
1. Using an antivirus (with latest patches), clean the virus (as soon as you connect the drive and try to access, the antivirus will normally detect the virus; if not, run the antivirus against the drive/memory card). Rather than cleaning, the antivirus will delete the exe files. But your original folders are still there - hidden (that is why you can see them in your camera; but not in the windows explorer).
2. Make sure you have done the step1. After that, there is an option in Windows explorer to show hidden files. Even this option will not unhide the folders. There is one more option "Hide protected system files (Recommended)" which will be by default checked. Uncheck this (you may get a warning). Now, your folders will be visible (grayed out). Copy all your data into your machine (or CD or wherever). Make sure that everything's proper.
3. Now format your drive / memory card. If you are using the memory card in a camera, you can format using the camera itself. If it is a USB pen drive, you can format using Windows Explorer only.
4. Check the option to hide system files back in windows explorer.
5. Now your data is all secure, your memory is also clean and ready to use. If required, you can copy your data back into the memory.

No need to use a FileRecovery SW.

This will solve all your problems - it did for me.

Thanks,

aly
January 26, 2008 6:31 PM

I have a Samsung digimax A40 and it caught a virus called fooool.exe
the same virus a friend had on his pendrive. and it wouldnt let me upload the pictures onto my PC, so I had to using Picasa software, otherwise it would show me hardware (camera) icon in unknown language and then it wouldnt even show that. Now the camera won't take pictures with flash and will turn off when ever it wants to even thought the batteries are brand new or just charged :(

Fee
February 2, 2008 3:35 PM

Your all 1/2 right 1/2 wrong.

So its possible for a virus to be stored on a disital storage device like the camera YES.

However, the code still needs to be executed by windows in order for the virus to be activated. Simple pluging in the camers or memory card WILL NOT infect your PC unless that virus creats an autorun script in the root of the card.

Otherwise YOU have to run the file, and any virus infection, altho the file may have originated on the camera/card, the camers did not infect you, Windows did.

Camersa run many differen operating systems, there maybe a virus or 2 around that are capible of infecting the camers OS, but what effects the camers OS is will not infect you windows PC. Viruses are OS specific. Wich is why MACs dont get Windows Viruses and visa versa.

Liron
February 14, 2008 4:47 AM

i have a virus on my camera memory card....i cant see the pictures when i put it in a card reader and some of the pictures make an error when i open them...how can i kill the virus?

Kaare Iverson
February 14, 2008 11:16 PM

Wow, big thanks to Benny Varghese there for the advice. I'm currently traveling through the middle east and my cards contracted this bloody virus thing. I thought that I would have to track down a freeware image recovery program and all that because the folder kept coming up blank after Norton killed the virus (at least one copy of it..it was saved into several other folders within the card as well).

Your advice worked perfectly. Norton killed the virus, then I changed the folder options to show protected system files and bam...there it was.

Long live forums.

Cheers.

PePe
February 15, 2008 6:33 AM

I was expecting a lot more groping over the net to find a fix. Thankfully got to read Benny Varghese's advice right within the 1st few mins id googled.

Thanks-a-ton Benny!

Marty
March 21, 2008 4:25 PM

Fee, The virus mentioned, Fooool.exe DOES write an autorun onto the memory device. Ive had this on my XD memory card and on an SD card.
I read my cards and deleted the viruses from a different operating system to windows. The virus had stored itself onto my computer though and copied itself back onto the removable devices the very next time I connected them using windows.

SK
April 6, 2008 2:44 AM

Hey , how can I remove foool trojan from my PC and phone memory card which supports data storage mode?

jeme
April 19, 2008 10:27 PM

geee,
I have this uuhgt.bat and its autorun in my SD card. my antivirus has detected it as virus, yet, my PC hangs when i tried to delete it, clean it, and put it in the quarantine.

how can i clean my SD card without formating it.
my graduation pictures are still there.

john
June 6, 2008 3:34 AM

hi, i've tried doing what Benny Varghese recommended and it worked as far as i could see the folders but the files are still hidden and i can't find them at all.

if i look through properties at the drive it shows that loads of room is still being taken up so the pics are still there but i don't know where...

luz lee
June 19, 2008 3:41 PM

I took two pictures and put in the computer when this show me alert virus, and then i click delete after i trait to take pictures again but it was impossible. my camera is olimpus 7.1. what do i can do? please help me thanks.

divya
September 5, 2008 4:04 AM

I can't see the pictures on my camera when i put it in a card reader and i doubt whether my camera memory card has virus...what to be done?

Phil
October 16, 2008 4:26 AM

Whilst travelling through SE Asia myself and 2 of my friends SD cards also had a virus (different PC's in different countries!). As someone said, it doesn't cause a problem unless you click/run the files. In my case the '.TRASHES' folder (which I believe the OS uses to mount/dismount the drive), had lots of hidden files including the actual folder (DCIM) containing all of my photos. Another DCIM folder had been placed as unhidden with the virus inside. This is meant to fool the user as everything appears as it should so you click on the folder to view your pics and Bam, the virus is out of the bag!

shanga
October 22, 2008 4:39 AM

i have a sonyericsson phone using a m2 memory card and i've got a virus on it i tried formatting the phone and scanning for viruses but it didn't work. can some1 please help me to clean my m.c or to download something

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.