Hackers have moved beyond innocent looking emails and software downloads to more sophisticated schemes for cyber sabotage including using electronic-cigarette charges to infect computers.
One Reddit user, Jrockilla, told the user-generated news site about an executive at a large corporation who had malware on his computer despite being up-to-date on anti-virus and anti-malware protection. After looking at all of the usual malware suspects, the executive told the computer professionals that he’d recently switched to electronic cigarettes. They subsequently looked at the charger and discovered the problem: The Chinese manufactured e-cig charger had malware on it and when the man plugged it into his computer it became infected.
This is not the first time hackers have made use of ostensibly harmless technology products to import viruses. “Production line malware has been around for a few years, infecting photo frames, MP3 players and more,” Rik Ferguson, a security consultant for Trend Micro, told The Guardian.
Yet USBs seem more susceptible to such nefarious acts. “Since different device classes can plug into the same connectors, one type of device can turn into a more capable or malicious type without the user noticing,” the website of Berlin-based SRLabs says. It goes on to say that USBs have no protection against reprogramming, because malware scanners aren’t useable on the device’s firmware and firewalls for thumb drives don’t exist. And unfortunately, with the “Internet of Things” boom occurring in the world of technology, this problem could get much worse.
For now, the best advice offered is to get your vape on from a reputable retailer whose company you trust and to use a wall outlet to charge your devices rather than your computer.