Specifically, I was trying to install windows 10 on a fresh new ssd, i was trying to use a usb to do it but it turns out I did not create the usb drive correctly, so I’m stuck on the “reboot and select proper boot devices” screen on my bios.

If the usb was infected, can it infect my ssd or my bios at this point?

  • why do you think there's an infection of any sort?
    – Pedro
    May 28, 2020 at 6:06
  • I don’t know if there’s any, I have scanned everything and secure erase my usb with my MacBook, but then I keep being worried it wasn’t thorough enough. May 28, 2020 at 6:55

2 Answers 2


It depends on what stage of the boot loading or fresh new installation point you are on in the BIOS. From what I am reading, it seems you are only at the "reboot and select proper boot devices" screen. This is typically a BIOS screen that is part of the BIOS which is typically located in the small boot partition or a BIOS flash chip. The BIOS on many modern day computers, especially those that are designed to come with Windows 10, usually are called UEFI and are different than BIOS from the past. Modern day computers also have a TPM chip on the motherboard.

From an external memory interface like a USB, the UEFI can be infected although the likelihood of that happening depends on where the USB came from and where did the image of the OS on the USB came from. As long as the first two came from legitimate means of obtaining, I do not think there is any need to panic.

If TPM is already activated on the system, then any attempt to infect the UEFI would be useless as the computer will not be able to start. The TPM is an embedded chip on a computer that has a purpose of security, where everything is signed via a RSA key that is not accessible and is only stored inside the TPM module. Any changes done to the system firmware that causes the signature to be faltered will cause the TPM module to stop the computer. However many manufacturers have TPM disabled by default, this is because it delays the boot/startup process as everything has to get checked by the TPM module.

Regarding the SSD, because it is a fresh SSD there is no data on it at this time. If it does get infected, as long as the BIOS is not infected, doing a clean install from an external drive in BIOS can clean and thus remove the infection on the SSD.

From your question, I am not sure if you are just asking or you really feel that your USB is infected. Is the USB device showing in the selection list? Doing a misstep in the burning an installation image via official steps recommended by Microsoft, in my opinion would not cause the USB to have a virus. Just the image on the USB may be corrupt. A corrupt OS installation image is not a virus.

  • So what I’m getting is that it is extremely unlikely even if my usb was infected (I don’t think it is, I’m just trying to eliminate all possibility of my new ssd which I’m about to use to install my windows 10 from being infected) What about the other around, if the ssd is infected, can a usb be infected at that stage? Assuming there’s no os on the ssd. May 28, 2020 at 5:26

Conceptually UEFI and BIOS code can be modified to the advantage of an attacker as can the firmware of storage devices. These are very complex non-generic attacks that are very uncommon.

Whether you could modify an SSD's firmware to modify UEFI or BIOS is a level above the previous attacks, I'm not sure if it is possible, which is to say it may not be impossible. To say it's incredibly unlikely and even more to have happened to you is an understatement.

  • so what you are saying is that it is hard for an infected usb to infect your ssd at the bios or booting menu, and even harder for an infected ssd to infect a usb at that stage? I’m not certain that they are infected. But I am clean installing all of my systems so I’m concern with any possibility and trying to fool proof as much as I can. My concern is: Can the usb infect a fresh ssd at that stage of booting. another concern:I’m trying to use Samsung magician secure erase bootable usb to erase my Ssd which has a potentially infected windows 10, can the virus infect the usb? May 28, 2020 at 6:34
  • The answer to your "can" questions is generally yes, however discussing malware in firmware and things that run outside of operating systems is highly specialised stuff. Within a running OS you can plant malware in ssd disks or usb devices naturally but to hide it in firmware (i.e. to survive a wipe) is incredibly difficult. It just does not happen since there's usually much easier means for the same ends.
    – Pedro
    May 28, 2020 at 8:19
  • So realistically speaking, I should end up with a clean ssd if I wipe it with a Samsung magician erase tool (bootable usb so it’s never let the os on the sad run), and my bootable usb will remain clean? May 28, 2020 at 8:34
  • I am still unsure as to what kind of infection you are referring to. You also don't exactly need to wipe your disk with an erasing tool, unless you have a good reason for it.
    – Pedro
    May 28, 2020 at 12:48
  • Sorry, my pc computer one day had all its antivirus uninstalled. Avira and malwarebytes. And I couldn’t update windows for some reason so it seems like it was infected. And from that moment on I treated all devices with connections with it or have had files transfer between it equally infected In order to cleanse my computers. May 28, 2020 at 20:27

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