E-Cigarettes Can Deliver Malware

E-cigarettes are found to be able to deliver dangerous malware via their USB port used for charging the devices.

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The popular e-cigarette can prove to be a good alternative to the traditional cigarettes however the recent discovery about them can scare away some of the smokers.

E-cigarettes are primarily charged via a built-in USB port using a special connection cable or by plugging device directly to a computer or a wall charger.

A security report on Reddit suggested that at least one instance of such an incident has occured. A company executive has suffered a malware infection. The source of the viruses has turned out to be an e-cigarette manufacturer from China.

The malware was hardcoded into the charging module of the device which upon connection with a computer has released a dangerous payload.

This is just the latest incident that involves production line malware. In previous years we have seen malware being distributed on portable devices such as MP3 players. One of the most notable incidents occurred in 2008 when customers identified malware on the product installation discs that were bundled with photo frames made by the vendor.

A recent proof-of-concept attack known as “Bad USB” has revealed that most USB controller chips have no reprogramming protection measures and as such hackers can modify them and use these assets in live attacks against targets.

Customers can protect themselves by always relying on up-to-date and trusted security solutions. Security experts suggested that hackers can easily acquire shipments of legitimate e-cigarettes and infect them with malware which can then be sold or distributed via other means to potential victims.

The whole post reads the following:

I have a story I wanted to share about a data security breach at a large corporation. One particular executive had a malware infection on his computer from which the source could not be determined. The executive’s system was patched up to date, had antivirus and up to date anti-malware protection. Web logs were scoured and all attempts made to identify the source of the infection but to no avail. Finally after all traditional means of infection were covered; IT started looking into other possibilities. They finally asked the Executive, “Have there been any changes in your life recently”? The executive answer “Well yes, I quit smoking two weeks ago and switched to e-cigarettes”. And that was the answer they were looking for, the made in china e-cigarette had malware hard coded into the charger and when plugged into a computer’s USB port the malware phoned home and infected the system. Moral of the story is have you ever question the legitimacy of the $5 dollar EBay made in China USB item that you just plugged into your computer? Because you should, you damn well should. Sincerely, An IT guy

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Author : Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.


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