Urgent Western Digital MyBook alert

Many users have a Western Digital MyBook external drive, either for storing data or for use as a Time Machine storage unit. These units were routinely sold at Costco, BestBuy, Amazon, and other retailers, and offer lots of storage space at a low price.

However, while we recommend that everyone immediately erase and reformat any storage device they buy, before putting it to use, and not install any software that comes with the device, most people don’t do any of these things. This is proving to be a problem, as hackers have found a way to reach across the Internet to the MyBook drives, and use the custom software to wipe out all data.

You can find a discussion of the problem here:

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2021/06/mybook-users-urged-to-unplug-devices-from-internet/

What to do if you have a MyBook

If you own a Western Digital external drive, it is probably a MyBook. While the current alert is only for the MyBook Live and MyBook Duo models, the underlying software for all MyBooks is pretty much the same. Unless you are absolutely, positively certain you did erase and reformat the drive before using it, and you did not activate Western Digital’s software, you should:

  • Buy another external drive compatible with your Mac. If your Mac has USB 3.0 ports, an external USB 3.0 drive should work, regardless of manufacturer. Do not get a USB 1.1 or 2.0 drive.
  • Use Disk Utility (in your Utilities directory) to erase the drive, and then reformat the drive. Depending on which version of macOS you are using, exactly how this is presented may differ, but after erasure, you want to make sure the drive is formatted as macOS Extended.
  • After preparing your new drive, copy everything off your Western Digital MyBook to the new drive.
  • Once everything is copied, use Disk Utility to erase and reformat the MyBook. At that point, you can use the MyBook for whatever you want, including using it as a Time Machine storage.

In the words of the Mandalorian, “This is the way.” There is no simpler shortcut: you need to transfer everything off your MyBook to another drive, and completely erase and reformat your MyBook. You need to do this right now.

Note that the article mentions Western Digital considers these devices “obsolete” and they are no longer covered by Western Digital warranty or product support. It is entirely up to you to protect yourself.

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